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

Frontline pans are the highest pitched instruments in the steel pan family.

They usually play the melody, countermelodies or provide high harmonic support.

Members of the section:

  • Tenor pan
  • Double Tenor pan
  • Seconds pans – Single Seconds, Double Seconds

The double seconds and double tenor pans are very similar in appearance and range. However the double tenor usually has a shorter skirt and a brassy tone, while the double seconds has a warm tone and a longer skirt.

Tenor Pan

The tenor pan is also called the lead or soprano pan. It is the highest pitched pan in the steelband and usually carries the melody. It is a single drum played by one person.

The most common arrangement of notes is a cycle of fourths and fifths; however other arrangements, such as cycles of thirds and fourths, are sometimes used.

They tend to be shrill with a bright tone. The tenor pan is the only pan used in both conventional conventional and single pan bands

Tenor Pan

The two main types of tenor pan are:

1) High Tenor Pan 


Range of a High Tenor Pan

2) Low Tenor Pan


Range of a Low Tenor Pan

Low tenors are becoming the most popular style of tenor pans, as they have more notes in the ‘best’ range of the instrument and melodies played on this pan require less transposing.

Double Tenor Pan

The double tenor pan is also called the double lead. It is a pair of pans played by one person.

It reinforces the melody and/or harmonizes the melody. They have a brassy tone and can expand the melodic range of the tenor pan if necessary.

They are used in conventional steelbands

Double Tenor Pan

Double Tenor Range

Range of the Double Tenor Pan

Seconds Pans

Seconds pans are also called alto pans. They typically play harmony and countermelodies.

The two main types of seconds pans are:

1) Single Seconds Pan: A single pan played by one person used in single pan bands 

Single Seconds Range

Range of a Single Seconds Pan

2) Double Seconds Pan: A pair of pans played by one person, used in conventional steelbands

Double Seconds Pan

Double Seconds Range

Range of a Double Seconds Pan

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