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Rudolph Charles of Trinidad and Tobago

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by C L R James
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Rudolph Charles

Rudolph Charles also known as "The Hammer" steelpan instrument inventor, tuner and the leader of the West Indian Tobacco Desperadoes steel orchestra in 1961 and led until his death in 1985.

This well-known successful leader was a musician and community leader among the people of Lavantille gaining respect from all steelpan musicians throughout the world. Over the years he made a number of decisions that changed the band's participation in carnival events and activities.

He was scrupulous and always aware of the details surrounding the administration and process of the orchestra's activities. He was instrumental in changing the band's name from "Gay Desperadoes" (due to its negative connotation) to "Desperadoes," he was also the inventor of the (1) 9-bass steelpan (2) the rocket pan, (3) the 12 bass steelpan, (4) the quadraphonic pan (5) the triple second with foot bass.

His tuning style is a mellow organ tone and is characteristic of the band. He displayed a ‘labour of love of the music, the steel orchestra and the instrument and has a place in the history of pan that will be unchallenged for many years in the future.


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