It’s much lighter and easier to move around on stage than the traditional steelpan and it was created using high-tech electronics to advance the invention of the only acoustic instrument in the 20th Century.
Welcome to the e-pan that could, for the first time ever, make waves on the streets of Toronto during Saturday’s Caribana parade.
Inventor Salmon Cupid says at least two bands have shown an interest in using the new stand-alone technologically advanced instrument that he spent the past 25 years developing to perfection.
The pan, made of plastic, rubber and fibre glass, made its Canadian debut earlier this year at the annual Snowflakes on Steel festival and three Toronto schools have committed to make purchases.
Cupid said he developed the concept for the instrument while attending St. Augustine Senior Comprehensive School in Trinidad.
“I was a member of the school’s steelband that won several competitions, including a trip to a festival in France,” he said. “While practicing outdoors one day for the event, I realized I was not hearing the nice sweet melody. I told myself I have to come up with an electronic pan where you don’t have to worry about microphones.”
Cupid explained that the e-pan has the capability of changing octaves, manually or by the use of a foot pedal.
“The user can also use built-in speakers to monitor what they are playing and they have the capability of using a headphone to allow practice without disturbing anyone in close proximity,” added Cupid, founder of the Toronto All Stars Orchestra.
“When I was in England recently to promote the e-pan at a school, the principal told me that even though his music room is soundproof, the noise disturbed other classes in nearby rooms. He doesn’t have that problem with the e-pan and he’s ecstatic.”
Cupid said the cost of an e-pan, which can be developed in 24 hours, is approximately $2,900. A traditional steelpan, that could take several weeks to create, cost $2,300.
He has produced the tenor and double second pans which have the same amount of notes – 29 and 32 respectively – as their traditional steelpan counterparts.
Cupid says he’s working on a double guitar and bass, which he hopes to complete before the end of the year.