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Has Trinidad and Tobago dropped the ball on the steelpan?

Conspiring To Pigeonhole Pan, And That’s Cool?
  by Les Slater -

Chairman of the T & T Folk Arts Institute and former Highlanders Steel Orchestra arranger

Global - I don’t know if he remembers making the comment or still is of that view, perhaps more than twenty years later, but no less a pan-world figure than Boogsie Sharpe once said to me that if pan had been invented in Jamaica, it would have made greater progress. The particular reference to Jamaica (or anyplace else, for that matter) in that context might precipitate some spirited give-and-take. But be that as it may, there’s no doubt lots of us have had occasion, over time, to ponder the path pan has traveled, and whether we Trinidadians, as its creators and gatekeepers of record, have come anywhere close to affording ample opportunity for pan to realize its full potential.
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Brian,

If we mass produce the PHI and Epan what type of effect would it have on the local steelpan industry?

Bugs pass the guava whip a minute ah sharing licks now, Brian I would not sum up in two words , but for a lot of people regarding the electronic advances, which is not really as pan related as projected, which I am ready to embrace, pass me a phi or an E-pan whatever else, I want one, cyar afford to buy any though, but the expression that comes to my mind concerning the positve reactions to them is "never see come see" those things as nice as they are are not pans, they are devices resembling pans, I also love my "android" device, people still call it phone but my carrier calls it a device, which is what it is, Dr Copeland pan is not an evoulution of the bamboo, and the new Devices are no innovations of the steel pan they are great suppourt gears for pan players, some time in the future no serious pan player should be without one, but the pan is still the only new acoustical instrument that was recognised as invented in the 20th century, as a scientist Brian take your licks and doh talk like that, the guava whip is soaking in pee, so watch out, I write a score  in some software and used a pan tone to play it and people asaked me who tune the pan, and who was playing the bass, yessiree it was band in the box and they were shocked to know that no musical instrument or musical devices were used, so fear not folks we may be "third world" (I hope you were not trying to be derogorotory Brian because the pee was soaking for years) and the third  world is the future, Pan will get there, inspite all the "fighting down, mauvais lange, congosah, tiefing, ignorance, arrogance" I will stop before I run out of space for comments some people know what I am talking bout, we have to stop acting and talking like Le bron James and get on with the game, (get rings not attention) thanks to youths like khuent Rose, Mustapha Alexander, Jamma Stewart, just to name a few pan will grow in the future whe we are gone, or done with it,there is so much more to be said but for now I am watching the guava whip soak and I might have to use a glove to hold it

Sid,

                Steelbands carry a different vibe altogether this is why in Brooklyn they  made j’ouvert a pan only thing.

                DJs rule carnival now, they even park up music bands, good or bad this is the change we have to live with.  I thank you for the time you took to reply, you shed light on a lot of things about electronics that I didn’t know.

                Keep on sharing your knowledge on WST, it is with dialog we get GOOD CHANGE.

Based on the fact that Rhapsody Steel Orchestra performed on the road for J'ouvert and Mas on Carnival Tuesday in Trinidad Carnival, some will disagree with this statement. Unfortunately, we have no video from J'ouvert but check out the link from Carnival Tuesday http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_TWUbREnTs.

If steelbands fail to change their product while the environment they compete in continues to change, then they will not be able to compete with other forms of entertainment.

I take exception to Len Boogsie 's remark. Our pan men  have taken this wonderful invention to the four corners of the globe. we are probably the only country  in the world where this complex instrument is played as a national instrument. our schools and our young people are encouraged to practice for long hours to achieve the  level of professionalism and discipline necessary  to play  the steelpan. If Pan has not progressed more extensively it is not because  our country has not invested heavily in its promotion; rather it is the deep commitment, the long  hours of practice and most importantly to  play pan for the love of the  instrument.
Once again.  Competition does NOTHING to advance steelband music, in Trinidad.  All the emphasis on Panorama and other competition stifiles real creativity, since everyone seeks to imitate or co opt the sound of the winning bands.  There is so much music styles for the steel OCHESTRAS to explore.  Lets keep an open mind, Trini competition culture notwithstanding.

To address the issue of steel bands making a local "joyful noise" in the streets outside of Panorama:

Trinidad bands could go down the road with much more ease, not only during Carnival but whenever they want, really, if they got some trolleys made instead of using their Panorama racks.

Virgin Islands steel bands have a powerful presence in Carnival parades on all three islands - St Thomas (both Childrens and Adult Parades), St John and St Croix. Using double-decker trolleys, instead of racks, makes going down the road much easier for our bands, which are typically 25-40 members. The Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, with almost 150 members, uses a 'train' of three trolleys.

You can see the Love City Pan Dragons Youth Steel Orchestra on our trolley in the 2011 St Thomas Childrens Parade in three YouTube videos. Check our website, www.pandragons.org, for the featured video and links to several more that our fans have uploaded.

The idea of specially designed vehicles to carry full sized steelbands on the road at Carnival definitely needs to be seriously looked into, even sectional units that could be assembled on site.

This may be a worthwhile investment for the steelband community to consider.

Mr Slater?

                 So very well articulated....In reading your article...well!! I tried saying what you have said...but i guess I did not have The Genius as you have.

                  I am not known by many people in Trinidad and Tobago. But, I have been making My contribution to the Instrument since 1969. I Had a lot of confidence in and was inspired by Mr. George Goddard (snr.) Now deceased, and was happy to Learn of Mr Goddard (junior). If he was alive at this time, I would believe That he would have certainly express your views in the very same way.

                  I gave up on trying to promote the instrument at home. The hard work did not pay off and i was Loosing my family...after 27 years. 7 days a week in the pan yard...taught a couple hundred people to play....only got one success. A big one though.... Liam Teague. He is now a 'BIG MAN" and he deserves every ounce of success he is having now.

                  I played the instrument just as you have indicated...along side all other conventional instruments. I was just unable to introduce it into the Watty Watkins Ballroom Orchestra because I was Just attempting to understand My other new instrument the Organ,which was a must in his band. I can certainly say that we as Creative People are Complacent about what we have. I have gained a wealth of experience....tomorrow I celebrate my 58th birthday.....I still Promote the Instrument,but not in T&T In fact I have been making a really decent living from the instrument ....When on one occasion in a Pan Trinbago meeting, I stood up and Made a suggestion of what direction the Instrument should go...I was Laughed at and discredited by some of the more affluent executive members. I was a delegate representing my band at this very important meeting. I used that very same Idea and well!!!  I not only spoke of my Ideas, but i had written a document on the Promotion and advancement of the instrument and gave it to the organization. I was the very first person ever to set up a Regional Office.  It was located on Cipero Street in San Fernando. I know that there are still a few Good gatekeepers,some at sea and some on Land. I had the privilege and honor to meet Robbie and the Trini Posse at the Tree house in L.A. Selywn Toby in New York,Dennis Smith with whom I perform. it is so good to know that these guys still keep the flag flying. I left a copy of My music at the Bar of the Tree House for their Listening pleasure. Carlyle I Houlder

happy birthday in advance Carlyle, few people know that you were the one that gave Liam his earliest lessons, he forgot to mention your name when he was giving credits, in an interview years ago, but I know and there are people who know, one thing that made me proud of him in that same interview was that he recognised that that there were people more skilled than him working many times harder at it that were not as blessed as he was, he is stepping up to the plate and really now getting curious with the steel, and his articulation is great now, Pan is a wonderfull instrument and I do not believe that my curiousity will ever stop, All I do is pan, I play it I make it, and sometimes I will mesmerize myself and will get tickled pink by what this steel can do. sometimes it may seem that pan is sinking into oblivion, based on how it is presented by those whom the gods favour, what some arrangers and players do with it, even the most succesfull amongst us have some beef or the other, even the highly paid non trinis,"A luta continua"

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