Steelpan Tradition of Trinidad & Tobago Detailed in Outstanding Faculty Lecture

Humboldt State’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture Series presents “The Rhythm & the Reason: The Steelpan Tradition of Trinidad & Tobago,” a lecture by music professor Eugene Novotney, the University’s 2013-14 Outstanding Professor of the Year recipient.

The event is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the Van Duzer Theatre. Admission is free, and a reception will follow.


Novotney’s lecture will trace the historic roots of the steelpan movement through its evolution as a modern global art form. His presentation is based on extensive fieldwork and professional practice.

““I am honored to be able to present this lecture on an art form that has profoundly shaped my identity as a musician throughout my lifetime,” Novotney said.

The steelpan (steel drum) of Trinidad & Tobago stands as the most recent addition to the world’s catalogue of musical instruments. The history and evolution of the steelpan are directly related to the socio-cultural conditions that shaped the history and evolution of Trinidad & Tobago as a nation.

Today in Trinidad, the steelpan stands as an emblem of perseverance, unity, and national identity. It is a unique instrument with a unique sound that Trinidadians created and introduced to the world. Forced by colonial oppression, and born out of necessity and practicality, the steelpan movement has evolved into a world-wide art form that is universally respected, well studied, and widely practiced.

For nearly three decades, Novotney has mentored Humboldt State students. His teaching incorporates his travels to India, China, Indonesia, Brazil and Ghana to study ethnomusicology. He also directs two musical ensembles—the Calypso Band and HSU Percussion Ensemble.

As a performer, Novotney has contributed to several professionally released recordings by world-class steel bands. He has also composed 18 original works published by three music outlets.