The early steel pans were played hanging in strings from the player's neck. Pans are still played in this manner sometimes, but this is a special, traditional style for small street bands called "pan around the neck". Nowadays pans are usually mounted in racks on wheels for carnival or on stands for stationary concert performances.
The common denominator for all hanging mechanisms for steel pans is two supporting limbs separated by a distance slightly more than the diameter of the drum. The drums are hung in strings from hooks on the limbs. The limbs must be at least as long as the skirt of the pan, taking into account the extra length of the tilted drum. Below the skirt, the limbs are joined to form a standing mechanism. One convenient way to make a collapsable stand is to use the lower part of a regular cymbal stand and attach a U-formed fork on top of it, see fig. 14.1. Fig. 14.1 also shows the most common type of stand (in the middle) and the regular Trinidad concert stand, made of bent chromium-coated steel tubing (to the right).
Fig. 14.1 Examples of playing stands.
The stands are usually positioned so that the lowest side of the tilted drum is facing the player. This works for all tilted pans, from tenors down to cellos. But if an instrument consists of two drums, another set-up technique may be used. An individual stand for each drum makes it possible to put the stands in a way that makes the drums tilt towards each other, see fig 14.2.
This set-up will put the lowest side of the drums in the middle, making it easier to move the hands from one drum to the other while playing fast figures. This technique has been developed by solo artists but has not yet been adopted by the regular Trinidad steelband. This seems to be due to the fact that there is a technical problem to integrate these twisted stands in the racks of a mobile steelband set-up.
Fig. 14.2 Tilted drums of a two-drum set-up.