Six-pan / Rocket Pan

Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra

A Moment in Pan

Global - The Rocket Pan aka Six Pan -- Invented by the late, great Rudolph Charles of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra.

In speaking to master arranger and performing artist Robert Greenidge, the first musician to play this pan - he explained that Rudolph was not necessarily seeking “loudness”, but rather an all-round sonic impact of about three pans/instruments from a single one – via the Rocket Pan, along with the resultant unique tonal quality. The cones were added to the Six-pan afterwards to simulate a whistling tone similar to what was envisioned from a rocket. And thus we have - the Rocket Pan.

The Rocket Pan aka Ying Yang, Six Pan -- invented by the late, great Rudolph Charles of Desperadoes Steel Orchestra.
photo by Lyndon Spencer

As far as WST (When Steel Talks) is aware, Desperadoes Steel Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago, and Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra of Brooklyn, New York, are the only orchestras that employ the six-pan as a regular voice in their orchestra.  As of Summer of 2019, Pan Evolution had three six-pans active in their musical arsenal for Panorama.  Ace musician, tuner  and Pan Evolution six-pan musician Khuent Rose says - "The tone of the pan tends to "bark" because it's partially constructed like a bass and partially constructed like a guitar.  The plane of tension for the two instruments is different. Think of the waveform of a Tuba (mostly in the 400hz below) and a Tom Tom."  In addition, Rose explains their (Pan Evolution's) version of the six pan covers three octaves with a high of Eb 5.

Rocket pan with Cherylee Goddard-Legair
Cherylee Goddard-Legair with the Six Pan / Rocket Pan - Panorama Finals 2016 - Trinidad self-photo by and © Cherylee Goddard-Legair


Aviel John on Six-Pan with Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra  - New York, 2019

Aviel John on Six-Pan with Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra  - New York, 2019

Steelband music arranging standout André White who has had direct experience with both the Desperadoes and Pan Evolution versions of the six-pan, explains that they are somewhat similar.  "They have two different layouts.  I use the instrument as a reinforcer to parts I need to come out.  Not necessarily to replace the quad, because the quads have a distinct timbre; very closely associated to the double tenor with more range."

Pan Evolution's six-pan was made by Fitz “Bassay” Worrell.

Brandon Waldrop on Six-Pan with Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra - New York, 2019

Brandon Waldrop on Six-Pan with Pan Evolution Steel Orchestra - New York, 2019

 The Twelve Bass | The Nine Bass | The Triple Second | The Six-Pan / Rocket Pan