Create “The Engine Room” in your own home!

BBC radio Lincolnshire contacted me recently asking if I could feature on their Breakfast Show to help motivate people in self-isolation to get going in the morning. The idea was that I would teach some rhythms for people to play on their pots and pans at home, then I would play along on my steel pan. I thought it was a brilliant idea; helping people to stay positive and have a little fun!

So I appeared on two breakfast shows and had so much fun that I thought I would keep going by creating video tutorials for anyone to join in with. It’s a difficult and worrying time for many at the minute and music is something that can really help to lift our spirits.

What is “The Engine Room?”

The rhythm section that accompanies the steel band is known as the engine room. It usually consists of a drum kit, congas, irons and other percussion instruments such as maracas, cowbells and tambourines. These instruments help to keep the timing and rhythmic drive going, particularly in calypso pieces. In the video tutorial we learn how to play the rhythms in the song Hot Hot Hot. Not to worry if you don't own any instruments, just grab a metal pan or plastic box!

Feeling “Hot, Hot, Hot!”

Hot Hot Hot was written by a Montserratian musician called Arrow and it featured on his 1982 studio album, Hot Hot Hot. The single was released in 1983 and reached number 59 in the UK singles chart. It has been covered by a number of artists since such as Buster Poindexter in 1987 and Don Omar in 2013. The song has also featured in various film and TV soundtracks such as Ugly Betty and Bend it like Beckham. In 1986, it was the official theme song for the FIFA World Cup held in Mexico.

Soul of Calypso

Hot Hot Hot was the first song to bring soca to an international audience. Soca is a more energetic version of calypso that developed in the 1970’s. The “father” of soca was a Trinidadian man named Garfield Blackman who rose to fame as “Lord Shorty”. He experimented with fusing calypso with elements of Indo-Caribbean music before unleashing “the soul of calypso” from which soca music became to be known. Soca is thought to be a genre of ‘dance’ music with greater commercial appeal. The lyrics are very catchy and easy to learn; you’ll be singing them all day (“Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole” and “Feeling Hot Hot Hot”) and so the focus is more on the party!

Give me that soca groove!

Hot Hot Hot has been one of the most popular pieces to learn on the steel pans so far at Rhythm and Steel. Children and adults love it. The accompaniment parts have a catchy, repetitive rhythm and the tenors have three relatively easy melodic patterns to play. My favourite melody is the third one where you find yourself singing some made up words to help with the rhythm “Soca groove, B A B A B, Soca groove B A).

Video tutorial

Here is the link for the video tutorial, take part and enjoy:

If you like what you see, don’t forget to subscribe on my YouTube channel!

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