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Tuned gong made from the end, and part of the wall, of an oil barrel. The barrel's end surface is hammered into a concave shape, and several areas are outlined by chiseled grooves. It is heated and tempered, and bosses or domes are hammered into the outlined areas; the depth, curvature, and size of each boss determines its pitch. Melodies, complex accompaniments, and counterpoint can be played with rubber-tipped mallets on a single drum. The steel drum originated in Trinidad in the 1940s. It is usually played in ensembles, called steel bands, of widely varying sizes.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on steel drum, visit Britannica.com.