46th Toronto Caribbean carnival

CNC report from Toronto
Added On August 5, 2013

Now turning to Toronto.

The 46th Toronto Caribbean Carnival has brought together the bright colors and rhythms of Carribean culture to the city of Toronto.

Participants in the parade say this year's carnival is more than just a big party, but fusing the ties between their past and present.

Lifestyles has the story.

Dozens of steel pan players delivered some high energy performances and showed off the unique sounds and infectious beats deeply rooted in the Caribbean culture in the Canadian city of Toronto on Friday.

Thirteen bands from all across the province of Ontario and Quebec came together for the Pan Alive competition.

It's all a part of the 46th annual Toronto Caribbean Carnival, which is a three-week long celebration of the Caribbean music, arts and culture.

[STANDUP] PHOEBE HO, CNC correspondent
"The Caribbean Carnival has two distinct features, one of course being the big and colorful costumes, the other would have to be the upbeat and festive music that you hear right now that's created by all these steel pans, which is unique to the Caribbean culture."

Steel pans is a musical instrument that originated from Trinidad and Tobago. People first used steel drums abandoned by oil refineries on the island and created their own source of music. Over time, the experimentations led to the birth of the steel pan, the only musical invention of the twentieth century.

Andrew Jackson, the musical director of the Panatics Steelband Network, one of the bands performing on Friday, says the simple instrument is capable of producing some very complex tunes, which is what makes it such a popular instrument.

"It's still very strong in the musical genre, it's an acoustical instrument, but it can play a lot of melodic music. So just because it doesn't have strings or pads, you can still get a lot of melody out of it. And any tune you hear in different genres: pop, jazz, ballad, country, the steel drum can actually imitate that and then you get the kind of music we have out there now."

He says wherever the steel bands play, there's always lots of dancing.

"It's infectious, once you hear it you have to move. That's what the steel pan is all about, it makes your body move, you're drawn into the music."

One of the younger players, 10-year-old Stephan, says he's been playing for over three years.

"It's not that hard, once you just practice you can figure it out."

According to pannist Simon Geraghty, the instrument looks simple enough, but playing in a steel band and competing at Pan Alive is no easy task.

"It's a challenge. It's a lot of notes being played very, very fast, and putting them all together working with the group, very enjoyable but it takes a lot of effort and it's also a big time commitment because we practice every day for three, four weeks straight leading up to the competition, sometimes even four hours a day."

While everyone's giving it their all, Geraghty says they're not just there to win

"It's not about the winning. I'll be honest, I just heard the announcement of how they're scoring it, it's the first time I've heard it. It's about the taking part, it's about playing with the group, getting the song right obviously, but it's the fun of being here, listening to the other bands."

All the steel bands paraded along with tens of thousands of masqueraders at the carnival's Grand Parade on Saturday.