Hot Pans - Stockholm Steelband
© Ulf Kronman, The Pan Page. Publisher: Musikmuseet, Stockholm, Sweden.

3. Marking of notes

Marking is the process in which the bottom basin is divided into the sections that later will form the different notes. The tuner usually does the marking by copying measures for the outer notes from previously made pans and by using templates for the inner notes. The marking can be quite tricky, especially if you have holes to watch out for.

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Fig. 3.1 The length of the outer notes along the rim is measured with a ruler. Here the tuner uses a straight ruler. If measures in appendix A are to be used, the ruler should be curved along the rim.

Marking outer notes

Once again, begin by locating the centre of the bottom in the same way as shown in fig. 2.2. The next step is to mark the length of the outer notes along the rim, see fig. 3.1. Measures and positions of notes for different pans are given in appendix A. Details are explained in fig. 3.2. Lengths of outer notes in appendix A are measured along the rim, not with a straight ruler.

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Fig. 3.2 Details of an outer note.

When arranging the layout, the side welds on the drums are usually positioned to face the player, i.e., in the middle between the two marked positions of the hanging strings in the layout diagrams in appendix A. This is done purely for aesthetic reasons, so if you have problems avoiding holes when positioning the notes, feel free to twist the drum.

When you have worked around the drum, you will probably find that the last mark does not match the first one. If the discrepancy just is a question of millimetres, go backwards and adjust the note positions slightly. If it is more than that, redo it. A ribbon marked with the note lengths and pasted to the rim may be a good tool for the marking of the outer notes.

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Fig. 3.3 Drawing the radial lines of the outer notes. Note the centre marking.

If you are making a double tenor or a quadrophonic pan in Trinidad style, remember to leave some space (about 1 cm) between the note marks.

The next step is to draw lines from the marks on the rim towards the centre marking, see fig. 3.3. Here a flexible ruler is needed, but a hacksaw blade can serve as a good substitute. Draw lines from the rim down towards the centre and make a mark where the radial groove is to stop, 13-20 cm down, see fig. 3.4. Exact measures are given in appendix A.

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Fig. 3.4 Marking the length of the radial groove of the outer notes.

After all the radial lines of the outer notes have been drawn, their inner borders are marked. To make a smooth inner ending of the note region, bend a ruler so that it extends 2-6 cm inwards from the end marks on the radial lines. To do this, two persons are needed, one holding the bent ruler in a smooth curve with two hands, and one drawing the line, see fig. 3.5. See appendix A for measures on the total radial length of the outer notes.

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Fig. 3.5 Marking the curved inner border of an outer note with a bent ruler.

Marking inner notes

The inner notes are usually marked with templates. Shapes and measures for the templates are given in appendix A. Use the patterns in appendix A to make templates by making as many copies of the page as there are notes. Then cut out the shape of a specific note from each copy with a pair of scissors and paste it on to some sturdy material, such as linoleum. Last, cut the stiff template to its right shape with a knife.

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Fig. 3.6 Spread out the templates of all the inner notes to check space and positioning before marking.

Begin the layout work by spreading out the templates for the inner notes in their positions before you do any marking, see fig. 3.6. This makes it possible to adjust the positions to utilise the precious space in an optimal way.

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Fig. 3.7 Position of inner notes.

The elliptical notes are usually oriented with their length axis pointing towards the centre, see fig. 3.7. Always place an inner note as close to its lower octave counterpart as possible (but not closer than 1 cm). In this way it will be easier to find the octave intervals while playing and they will be able to vibrate together. The distance sideways between adjacent notes should be as large as possible, preferably not less than 1.5 cm anywhere. If you have problems with space, the pan is probably not sunk enough.

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Fig. 3.8 Marking the four notes in the centre of a tenor.