Steel Drums, Istanbul, Turkey

H. K. D. H. Bhadeshia

The steel drum originates in the Carribean. It is made from low-carbon steel (about 0.05 wt% carbon). The instrument is fabricated by hammering and shaping the steel pan cut from a steel drum. These operations tune the drums and give shape to the notes that emerge from the different regions of the drum. The notes clearly depend on the elastic-plastic properties and geometry of the drum. The quality of the sound also depends on other metallurgical phenomena. For example, it is known that the interaction of dissolved carbon in ferrite with dislocations is important in influencing the frequency spectra during drumming. Strain-ageing, the Snoek effect and the Portevin Le Châtelier all therefore feature in determining the excitations of the drum. See: E. Ferreyra, L. E. Murr, D. P. Russell and J. F. Bingert, Elastic interations and the metallurgical and acoustic effects of carbon in the Caribbean steel drum, Materials Characterisation 47 (2001) 325-363.

Photographs by Maya Bhadeshia.


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