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FEATURE ARTICLE

Connecting Materials Science and Music in Steel Drums

A serendipitous collection of scientific, especially metallurgical, principles created melodic instruments from sawed-off steel barrels

Lawrence Murr, Everaldo Tello

The Trinidad and Tobago musical steel drum may look like an upside-down, sawed-off trash can, but it is actually a complex, nonlinear musical instrument capable of emulating nine orchestral voices. The authors have applied materials-science principles, techniques and tools to the study of the steel drum in order to reveal the scientific and metallurgical bases for qualities that evolved intuitively and serendipitously over the past 50 years.


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