There is probably not a more distinct musical noise than that of the steeldrum. Even if people don't know the name of the instrument - the unique musical notes that erupt from the steeldrum at once bring to mind the rhythmic movements of the ocean and the breezes of a Caribbean island. Rarely does it take listening to more than a few notes before it brings to mind joy, contentment, relaxation and a good time.
The instrument itself can be quite deceiving to those that know little of it's complexity. While it appears that the pannist, as the steeldrum players are called, effortlessly is striking the drum to emit the sound, there are in fact numerous notes laid out in the steeldrum face that require an exact or slightly off center strike. It is much more like playing a xylophone than a drum actually. It requires precise chosen notes as well as the rhythmic talent of a drummer. It isn't quite as effortless as a skilled pannist makes it look.
To get a bit more familiar with the needed skills of the player, one only has to see how the steeldrum is actually constructed. Take a look at this video from the Discovery Channel on the process of making a steeldrum. You'll see the numerous hours that go into perfecting all of the note areas of the drum, in fact each drum can take more than 100 hours to make.
The next time you see a pannist playing you will much more appreciate the craftsmanship of the instrument and the skill of the player...and of course the rythmatic melody that instantly brings the caribbean to mind and heart.