PAT BISHOP - A Person In Pan
by Pat Bishop
A When Steel Talks Exclusive
Trinidad - I can’t say that gender has been a factor in my pan yard activities – which now span so long a period of time that I’ve forgotten when it all started!
I remember once singing with Esso Tripoli steelband and abandoning solo singing soon afterwards in preference for pan arranging. In those days I worked feverishly to find out what the instrument could do and I lived with the pans of Birdsong in my house for a very long time.
They were very kind and they soon let me arrange for them, starting with simple hymn tunes. And so too did many, many more bands.
The Classical Festival was to become the event for which my major work was done, but I also started to drill and clean up Panorama arrangements and do critical pan commentary for Radio Trinidad. I continue to do these jobs today.
One particular interest of mine over the years has been the music composed specifically for pan and I consider it a privilege to be allowed to work with Jit Samaroo, Ken Philmore, Ray Holman and Boogsie Sharpe. A highlight of this work was having the opportunity to conduct Boogsie’s “Dance of the Douens” for Skiffle Bunch, especially after it had been choreographed by Patricia Roe for the Caribbean School of Dancing at Queen’s Hall.
Music Festival victories as arranger/conductor for Desperadoes gave rise to many overseas appearances, the highlights of which are probably my two Carnegie Hall concerts with the band.
But alas, all of that music has been lost because our pan people are not yet musically literate. Today, some individuals are able to read a line of music. Very few read and also write!! It therefore takes an enormous amount of time and patience to teach music which has originally been scored for the full conventional orchestra. The work becomes heartbreaking when it is discovered that the players forget it all very, very quickly. This kind of issue has nothing at all to do with gender.
Congats, Dr. Bishop. You are one of perhaps only a couple of Panorama judges who have actually arranged pan music and eveb drilled big bands like Despers. This is one os my recommendations all actual/potential adjudicators.
Three things struck me as I read this article;
As regards to gender in the panyard, my experience is that the panyard is one of the most welcoming places you can find, regardless of race, class or gender.
In the real world, if a youth wishes to learn to play a music instrument, he or she has to either join a school band if there is one and if there is space available in the class, or pay a tutor.
In the panyard, anyone can walk in , and he'd be given an instrument to play and willing tutors.
Even worse than the music lost because it wasn't written, are the many great, once in a lifetime performances that were never recorded, video or audio.
And the third thing is either we settle for those difficult high notes on the acoustic tenor pan based on the 55 gallon drum, or we create a "perfect" pan by electronics.
Unless of course. the G pan delivers.
Greetings: Cecil H please contact me at email@example.com. I, too, share the concerns/comments of Dr. B. I have also suggested to Pantun that he speak to her about offering a course. We must begin to formalize the education of the panmen and women Guidance Dr. Lance S.
Pedagogy! Pedagogy of the (Opressed) Panman and Panwoman, Dr. Lance. (Been trying to tell them. smh...) Ghost.
BTW - It's "Pan'tum", not Pantun. As in Pan'tum, The Ghost Who Talks. (Not to be confused with "Phantom, The Ghost Who Walks.) ☺
Hear Nah before all yuh start saying that ah have a direct pipeline to Zion, WHEN ah wrote a response ah was also thinking of Dr. Batson at FMU so Ah apologize if ah sounded like ah mess up. Ah mess up! Guidance Dr. Lance S
THAN KS for such a great article/interview. I see that this was posted a few years ago--sorry I missed it earlier, but am glad that it was re-posted.