Sheet Music for the Steelpan
Sheet music can be found in abundant on many websites in todays’ internet driven world which allows anyone to easily download them for virtually any instrument, especially the traditional ones such as pianos and guitars. However, finding websites which have quality sheet music for the steelpan typically requires a bit of searching. This situation was due to tradition as the steelpan pioneers were not musically trained in a traditional classical sense and typically learnt their repertoire by rote. There was little demand for Steel band music scores in the original framework of steel bands as more time was spent developing the instruments quality and also, there was a lack of music theory training amount the majority of its players. In recent times this is changing as the steelpan is accepted and taught in major Universities around the world such as The University of the West Indies in the Caribbean and Northern Illinois University in South America. Scores for songs such as “Spring from The Four Seasons, Op. 8, No. 1” are now in demand as pannist sharpen their skills and challenge themselves with the classics.
Traditions of Sheet Music in Steelpans
Traditionally persons who could have read music through the use of other instruments, such as the piano, and were interested in the steelpan would gather sheet music written for those instruments and transcribe it for the steelpan. Although the music was not written for the steelpan, in understanding how a piece of music was composed they quickly became experts at picking the quality pieces of sheet music that would have sounded excellent on the steelpan such as “Voices of Spring Waltz, Op. 410”. An example of such Another way of sheet music being gathered for the steelpan was the scoring of the music “picked out” by some of the more virtuosic players at the time. This scoring was usually done by someone who understood music theory. With that approach the sound of the transcribed song was already heard, interpreted and sounded perfect (at least close to) on the instrument.
In more recent times there are actual tunes written and scored specifically for the steelpan which spans many genres such as calypso and classical. These sheet music are not as easily sourced as many composers don’t have an, or know about, adequate channels of distributions. Typically a modern steelpan composer who produces their own sheet music doesn’t copyright the music but gives the general public permission to use it. This is just one excellent way of getting there steelpan sheet music compositions out there for free which can gather support for their creativity and expose their compositions at the same time.
Modern Steelpan Sheet Music Making
With the invention of music programmes such as Finale and Sibelius it has now become simpler and more cost effective for persons to prepare their music themselves by transcribing adequate non copyrighted songs or composing their own. Another trick which is utilised is gathering royalty free Musical Instrument Digital Interface (midi) files and transforming them into sheet music using notation software. Minor edits can then be done to the score to complete it and have it performance ready.
In recent times traditional ways of getting sheet music have been transformed thanks to modern technology and the internet. There are now other standard formats for the deliverability of sheet music for example the PDF, eBook, and various additional image and also sound tracks. There is no longer need to purchase an entire book to get the one song that you like. With these new ways of accessing scores steel band music should be developed and made available in these various forms for easy distribution to persons wanting them.
With the continued theoretical development of steelpan men and women, steelpan sheet music will be more and more in demand and it should become more easily accessible. With the learning of how to read music there’s no inherent need to memorize music and there is an added benefit of the distribution of music within steel bands becoming more efficient. Even though there are numerous benefits to learning music theory and learning how to competently read sheet music as a musician, it is still paramount that the traditional was of rote learning and memorization not be lost. Memorising is essential in case of uncomfortable situations like music blowing off the stand when playing outdoors and performing at night gig with improper lighting. Also, one of the attractions of steelpan players is their ability to capture audiences with their onstage performance.
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