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7 Drums 7 Artists

Curation, Event Series, Exhibition

A tribute to the spirit of inventiveness that gave rise to the only instrument created and banned in the 20th century, 7 Drums / 7 Artists is an interdisciplinary collaboration between seven contemporary artists, musicians and scientists, spanning seven years and several continents.

Dr. Elliott “Ellie” Mannette is a Trinidadian musi­cal instrument maker and steelpan musician. Mannette is credited with several innovations essen­tial in the evolution of the steelpan and is considered to be the father of the modern steel drum. His creations can be seen in museums and galleries including the Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Mu­seum of Art.

The first 2 events in the series were held at Neuehouse.

On the first night, Brian Greene, famed theoretical physicist and New York Times best-selling author joined Dr. Mannette in a conversation about the steel drum, the physics of sound and the mapping of musical structure onto a 3D object. In this seminal dialogue, Greene offered his inimitable scientific insight into Mannette’s experiential tuning process and the technical virtuosity required to discover the steel drum’s unique tonal placement. The conversation was moderated by renowned physicist and Dartmouth professor Dr Stephon Alexander.

On the second night, performance artist Che Lovelace enacted a piece in which he re-contextualized an oil barrel—a found object linked to the steel drum’s development. In this performance, the oil barrel was presented in relation to the body, to Caribbean cultural ritual and the larger idea of creative technique. Following Lovelace’s piece, seven time Grammi award-winner Olof Dreijer of The Knife and Dr. Elliott Mannette came together for a musical performance and discussion. Dreijer spoke about his process as a composer, his use of steel drum in his work and the state of electronic music. Mannette weighed in on a conversation with Dreijer about contemporary iterations of the steel drum, and in both contradistinction and comparison, reflecting on his analogue musical invention.

So far, Mannette’s drums have been gifted to Peter Doig, Jaron Lanier, Olaf Breuning, Rita Ackermann, Ivan Navarro, Olof Dreijer, Tunde Adebimpe, Che Lovelace and Erik Parker.

Everard Findlay