Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Eric Galm


The History of the Steelpan, its Impact in Hartford and the Significant Evolution.

The thesis focuses on the history and development of the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago and its development for more than twenty-five decades. The rebellion of the African slaves that were forbidden to use their drums upon arrival to the Caribbean led to the invention of the steelpan through paint pans, aluminum tins, and zinc cans.

This research also involves individual interviews and information about the members of the Hartford Steel Symphony Orchestra (HSSO)and their contribution to the community. The HSSO is a well-profound musical orchestra located in East Hartford, Connecticut. The documentation of the production and engineering of the steelpan done by Mr. Kelvin Griffith including information about the HSSO rehearsal and live community/state performances during their festive season. Also interviews from persons who witnessed the violent battle of steelbands during the ‘Golden Era’ of the1960s. Visual diagrams of the early stages of the steelpan leading up to the standard ‘fourths and fifths’ instrument.

This research also connects the migration of the steelpan from Trinidad and Tobago to the Unites States and the perceived annotation about the steelpan’s national identity. With interviews conducted with Trinidadian-Americans and their views on the current position of the steelpan.

Key words: African Slaves, Steelpan, Steelband, Hartford Steel Symphony Orchestra (HSSO), Rhythm, Hartford


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Music.

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