Characterization of coupled vibrations in the Caribbean steel pan
Andrew Morrison

The Caribbean steel pan is one of the most recently developed tuned percussion instruments and has been the subject of much scientific study in recent years. The steel pan is a unique instrument due to its arrangement of notes in a single steel membrane. The skilled tuner will usually attempt to give most notes three harmonically related partials through a process of careful hammering. Deformations of one note area inevitably change the resonant frequencies of the other notes, therefore the tuner must iteratively cycle through the notes until all are tuned. Although the resonances of the individual notes and the resonances of the skirt have been thoroughly studied, the coupling between vibrations of notes in the drum has not been studied as deeply. Movies of note strikes of a low tenor (also called a soprano) steel pan were acquired using an electronic speckle pattern interferometer equipped with a high speed camera. Movies showing the propagation of waves from the strike point and the evolution of coupling between note areas will be shown.