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We Kinda Music: White Clothes and Gravitas - (An open letter to Andy Narell)

by Dalton Narine

Global - Journalist, steelpan historian and film director Dalton Narine pens an open letter to birdsong steel orchestra arranger Andy Narell (right), proffering his frank sentiments regarding Narell’s 2014 arrangement of We Kinda Music as performed by birdsong for the Trinidad & Tobago Panorama season. Narell’s response to the letter is also included.
read letter & response

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Andy Narell is entitled to his opinion and so am I. If we think about this we may find a logic that is so simple. Like in the world of computers, there are many sub-fields. I cannot 'program' computers, so I don't apply for that type of job. I know how to use a word processor, so that's my field. Therefore, I won't tell the hiring company to stop what they are doing because I can be more creative using a word processor, writing 'Whatever' I want, instead of writing the program code that they want. Let us not throw away what is a 'unique cultural expression' for the sake of APPEARING creative. Creativity is ALSO the ability to innovate within context. If you are doing what is comfortable, are you really being creative? To develop creativity, in 'music school' an Isomelody and/or Isorhythm is used to limit the composer's range of tones and rhythmic patterns and forces the composer to be CREATIVE with what they have. A box is not always a bad thing. I believe that what is being proposed  as coming 'out of the box' is actually a shedding of Identity. Panorama is not only about the Steelpan Instrument, it is also about the cultural flavor of the music as well. And just as Calypso became Soca, and the Soca Monarch was devised for Soca Artistes, one day Panorama will become Pan Ramajay or something else and there will be a forum for that too. There is a reason we have other competitions and CONCERTS. Those avenues can be used for expressing the full extent of musical creativity. Panorama is in itself, a Genre and just as it is not allowed for a band to play a 'Panorama' styled arrangement in 'Pan in the 21st Century' the reverse is also upheld. 

As a successful Trinidad arranger yourself thanks for bringing some common sense and honesty to this topic Mr.Besson

Good post Mr Besson,

If one want to play in the game play with the existing rules, don't come with your rules and try to change the game.

I missed your excellently articulated article before - totally agree with the analysis.


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