Date of Degree
DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)
First Committee Member
Second Committee Member
Jones, William L.
Third Committee Member
Fourth Committee Member
The purpose of the current study is to provide students and instructors with a resource to study and teach steelpan through an understanding of the fundamental design and patterns inherent on each instrument. This will be accomplished through an investigation of how an awareness of the symmetrical note layout of the tenor pan, double seconds, triple cellos and six bass can be utilized when learning fundamental music concepts such as scales and chords.
Caused by their symmetrical design, the patterns used in steelpan construction interact with the patterns of scales and chords to create commonalities that remain consistent when transposed. When students and teachers are aware of these commonalities, they can be utilized when teaching and learning the instruments. These patterns also inform performance on the instruments, as the commonalities in the transposable patterns lead to recurring stickings. Because of this, the stickings of scales and chords will be discussed throughout the study to determine how the symmetrical design of the instruments can be used to inform stickings.
With this study, the author intends to demonstrate the importance of learning the organization of the instrument's note layout, rather than memorizing the location of each note independently. Because of steelpan's cyclical nature, and because the instruments do not conform to a chromatic centric note layout, it can be harder for students to identify the patterns used in steelpan construction. As a result, many novice steelpannists view the note layout of the instruments as a random assortment of notes. The steelpans have been methodically designed, however, and patterns in their note layout do exist. This study should serve as a resource for students and teachers to both acknowledge and understand these patterns.
steel band, steeldrum, steel drum, steelpan, steel pan, symmetry
xi, 222 pages
Includes bibliographical references (pages 214-222).
Copyright © 2018 Benjamin Phillip Yancey
Yancey, Benjamin Phillip. "Patterns in symmetry: approaching steelpan technique, performance and teaching through an understanding of instrument design." DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) thesis, University of Iowa, 2018.