The Background Pans Section of a Steelband
(Steel Drum Band)

This section contains the lowest pitched instruments in the steel pan family. They play the bass lines which provide the harmonic foundation for the steelband (steel drum band).

There are many members in this section but only the more common types are mentioned.


  • Dudup
  • 4 Note Bass pan
  • Tenor Bass pan
  • Six Bass pans


A single pan with two notes played by one person. They are used in single pan bands

Although the pan has two definate pitches, its function is essentially rhythmic, as it is used to play simple bass lines with repeated rhythmic figures.

Typical Dudup Rhythmic Figure
Dudup Pan

4 Note Bass Pan

A single pan with four notes played by one person. It provides the bass lines for single pan bands.

Tenor Bass

Also called the four bass. It consists of four drums which are played by one person and are used in conventional steelbands

They provide the definition in the section and play a crucial role in producing clean, unambiguous bass lines.

Tenor Bass Pan
Range of Tenor Bass Pan

Six Bass Pan

Six drums played by one person, used in conventional steelbands.

They are the most popular background pan and are used in steel pan ensembles of all sizes

Range of a six Bass Pan
Six Bass Pan

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