Drumming up excitement in the music department
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 10, 2013 01:01
Dr. Robert Brudvig, Oregon State University assistant professor of music, has performed at Carnegie Hall and has toured the world performing in countries such as Japan, China and Germany.
Brudvig conducts the OSU Campus Band and has been a part of OSU’s music program for 13 years. His favorite part of conducting the band is the music itself because of the attraction it holds for everyone.
Oregon State’s music department recently added steel drums to their inventory. The steel drum is a relatively recent instrument, from the island country of Trinidad and Tobago.
“In the 1950s they started using a steel barrel as an instrument and in the 60s and 70s steel drums gained attention of world music,” Brudvig said. “In the 70s the music of steel drums transcended to the U.S., where many bands use steel drums. Now, we will be the first band to use them in the Northwest.”
OSU now has six black bass steel drums. The drums are played by one person standing between two rows of three drums each. The drums look exactly like large steel barrels. The music department also purchased many higher pitched steel drums, which are hung on a stand and played with two small mallets.
In the past, the OSU music program had only one steel drum, which belonged to Brudvig. These new steel drums are significant to the music department because they present a great opportunity.
“[Steel drum music] is popular and now we have a full pan of instruments that can bring the culture and music from across the world and contribute it to the university,” Brudvig said.
Blair Davis is a senior and will be graduating in the spring with a bachelor’s of science in housing studies. Since she was in the 5th grade, she was involved in music, and says it will be a lifelong passion. Davis, as well as the rest of the ensemble, is just as excited as Brudvig to gain an entire ensemble of steel drums.
“When I found out we were getting a new set of steel pans, it was one of the greatest days of my life. The fact that OSU was going to get a complete full ensemble was absolutely breathtaking,” Davis said.
It is rare for bands to have an entire steel drum ensemble in Oregon. According to Davis, the new sets of drums will allow her to not only expand her ability to play more instruments, but also allow her to learn about the culture.
“Music to me has always been a deeper form of communication than a simple conversation,” Davis said. “You can tell when someone enjoys their music and their instrument by the way they play it and how they get into it with their body language. Our style of music makes people want to dance.”
Jason Schubothe is another student in the music department and also a member of OSU’s steel band. He is a senior majoring in music.
“I think that the new steel drums offer a great way of helping the department have more ensembles that are interesting to a wider variety of students,” Schubothe wrote in an email. “This allows students who may not be interested in a classical music setting the ability to still study music in a way that they find interesting.”
Both Schubothe and Davis think that these new steel drums offer a greater opportunity for the music department in that their ensembles may appeal to a wider range of students. These steel drums also give their ensemble an opportunity to play at events where a traditional band would not necessarily fit.
“For me, these new drums create an opportunity to learn a new instrument as well as a different style of music,” Schubothe said.
The steel drum band had been around for a few years but really only had one drum they could utilize and had to improvise with other instruments as subsititutes for steel drums.
“These new drums create an opportunity for everyone in the band to play an actual steel drum as well as play in a full steel drum band,” Schuboth wrote. “It’s a pretty unique experience.”
Hannah Johnson, news reporter