Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
The large bikini Mas bands have abandoned the Savanah for the Socadrome. The greatest steel orchestras in the world are playing to an empty Grand Stands at 3:00 am in the morning. And the streets of Port of Spain as Mr. Rubadiri Victor showed are empty on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Maybe this is truly an opportunity for the steelband to go back on the road.
kentish borde,I too think it is necessary and quite doable.
Les you are right, serious pushback is necessary.
But I think you are not right about the reason for the government interventions. The plural is deliberate. The first intervention as good intentioned as it might have been was the original sin.
The Jaycees a young organisation at the time had one show. They served a small demographic that was still playing mas on trucks. Being aspiring businessmen they had strong business support from their bosses and the help of the press.
But the carnival on the streets was not well supported by businesses and was run by small entrepreneur promoter and local organisations. like Mr.Smith from Wood brook, whose first name I forgot. Holly Betaudier will remember.
And by the way, the Junior Chamber died a natural death more than 10 years now.
It was, however, good politics for the new PNM. But it was really the Sparrow boycott and calypso that made the difference.
Since the original intervention, governments have continued to pour resources, mainly cash, which has had the effect that Bill Bonner 'aka The Rogue Economist' wrote about in his new book "HORMEGEDDON How Too Much of a Good Thing Leads to Disaster".The theory is based on a chemical phenomenon called "hormesis". "It is what happens when a small dose of something produces a favourable result, but if you increase the dosage, the results are a disaster."
If you want an example of 'hormegeddon' at work in carnival, ask the Steelband leaders who struggle each year to get players for panorama and to play on the road (sorry,on the big trucks), while NCC pays out thousands, in thousand dollar salaries to part-timers for panorama, who have no loyalty to any one band.
Apply the same thinking to all the other aspects of our carnival and you may be surprised.
The task of pushing back is going o be extremely difficult. Even getting agreement may be impossible.
I accept that state assistance to culture is necessary, but states are run by politicians and technocrats with a passion for control and their own hidden agendas. Unlike what you suggest they do not see themselves as 'caretakers'.
kelvin scoon, "caretakers" could be a Ministry responsible for PAN and MAS, the time has come. With the amount of money the government put into carnival and the amount of dollars it generate they might as well be hands on.
Absolutely no argument from me about government's indiscriminate pouring of funds into Carnival being a no-brainer. Governmental involvement absent adequate controls, stipulated standards to be adhered to, is obviously a prescription for disaster. We have seen many examples in recent years of unabashed politicizing of government's role.
But I fail to see how the original government intervention could be characterized as anything but in the people's interest. Erecting bleachers to make mas viewing accessible to a broader spectrum of folk; making Carnival prize winnings more attractive; introducing a People's Choice feature for Band of the Year; shifting the public's gaze toward king and queen of the bands and away from Carnival queen (and yes, influenced by press and radio, as Scoon notes, lots of us were caught up in that "queen" ritual); etc were all aimed at generating a participatory sense among the public. Sparrow's singing "Let the queen run de show/Wid she fridge and she radio/Who want to go could go up dey/But I ent going no way" highlighted the class/color distinction problem. But I don't think it was the impetus for Dr Williams, Andrew Carr and others who had set their sights soon after being in office on Carnival as an institution whose face needed to be changed.
The people that make the big dollars from carnival don't care about culture, they will suck it dry then move on. Every band that register should be oblige to go over the stage in the savannah, we cannot have anyone taking away from the main attraction. Some rules are needed if we are to have the greatest show on earth.
I think this topic should be on going. We have a short season next year and I haven't seen any indication of the powers that be saying anything to let the public know they are on the Ball.
Or are we simply witnessing the inevitable evolution (or degeneration?) of culture.
masai, we are definitely witnessing something, at this point it's the degeneration.
A TIME FOR CHANGE
by Ruthven A. Davis
Carnival without PANORAMA! Are you #@!&% mad or what?!
P-L-E-A-S-E! Stop the uproar. (This can really happen.)
There were many underlying factors that lead to the introduction of PANORAMA and the exit of the steel band from the streets during carnival. First, panmen decided that they could no longer play on the road, in the 'hot sun', for two days to receive little or no money. Second, because of the fees steel bands were demanding, it was cheaper for the carnival bandleader to hire a DJ, and thus came the 'BIG TRUCK'. Third, steel bands did not find it profitable to be ‘mas’ producers or, as we say, to ‘bring mas’.
With the introduction of PANORAMA the steel bands got what they wanted; performance fees and prize money. Now steel band leaders did not see the need to spend time practicing tunes for the road and another tune for PANORAMA; even the 'Bomb' competitions were abandoned. The exodus of the steel band began around 1966 and by the turn of the decade the pan was gone.
Kitch kept things alive by writing 'PANORAMA SONGS’, but 'SOCA' - calypso for the DJ's was on the increase. The original calypso, or KAISO, became less important because in reality the road march was now the song most played by the DJ's on the 'BIG TRUCK'. Calypsonians now sang songs either for the DJ's or PANORAMA. Note: A panorama songs is not necessarily a song that the DJ’s played.
By the time Kitch left us, steel bands in their eagerness to win PANORAMA was arranging their music with classical style. By the time they hit their intermediate, and then make two runs and a change key you will swear that you are listening to a Tchaikovsky composition. The situation became even worse when steel band arrangers started writing their own PANORAMA songs. By this time the 'carnival' in PANORAMA music was gone. Please take some time to listen to the bands in 2015 PANORAMA. The music is nice, the music is sweet, but it is not 'carnival' music. In regards to carnival, PANORAMA music is a disappointment. People cannot ‘jump-up’ to that music. But I must add that there was a more of a distinct touch of ‘carnival’ in the arrangement of the champions.
Carnival is calypso, steel band and ‘mas’. The calypso as part of carnival brings rhythm and lavway with catchy lyrics that the steel bands quickly learn and deliver on the road for the people to play 'mas' and 'jump up' singing a chorus as they go. The selection of the ‘road march’ winner depended on this. That was, and still is, carnival. That is what we are missing. We must accept that PANORAMA has nothing to do with carnival and can be held at any time of the year but it is a serious detriment since it takes steel bands off the streets during carnival.
We are not going to 'kill' our PANORAMA. It is a money maker. Since they are now planning an INTERNATIONAL PANORAMA in August, they can incorporate it there. With PANORAMA under this umbrella the event will be enhanced as a money maker. Steel bands will still participate in PANORAMA and receive prize money and benefits, but now their participation in carnival becomes a serious option.
It is important to emphasize some important points concerning the success of Trinidad All Stars steel band over the last two years.
● The touch of ‘carnival’ in their arrangement (which I have already mentioned)
● The band has always been very strong on the road
● The achievable income from band size, costume cost, band fee and all inclusive fee may now make it
profitable for steel bands to ‘bring mas’.
The recent success of Trinidad All Stars may well be an indication of change slowly creeping upon us. As Black Stalin said ‘What go round so, does come back so.’ History and/or social change moves in full circles and everything is a matter of cause and effect. The introduction of PANORAMA itself has brought us to this point.
With PANORAMA moved, the 'Big Truck' and the DJ's will still be on the road for carnival. Thus it is imperative that ‘the powers that be’, introduce incentives for the steel band to return to and stay on the road:
● Prize money for road march winner, song most played by steel bands.
● Prize money for best beating steel band
● Bomb tune competition
● ‘Band of the Year’ prize for steel bands.
To avoid music drown out.
● Established routes to and from competition
● Bands must follow at fixed minimum distance.
In addition, an effort must be made to improve the quality of the carnival 'mas' productions. Efforts could include:
● Categorization of 'mas' bands (to something like it was)
● Definition and adherence to judging standards
● Emphasis must not be on size of the band
● Prize money for best costumed band (to help curb nakedness)
● Re-establish the uniqueness of our carnival and not try to copy others.
I am not instigating or suggesting anything, but in conclusion, I must ask one question. With good incentives for the return of the steel band and for the improvement of carnival as a whole, if there are separate routes for steel bands and DJ's, on which route do you think people are going to line up to see mas? I am sure that you will say with emphasis that almost everyone will be on the route for steel bands. Yes folks, bringing steel band (and calypso) back into carnival will be surely welcomed. It is TIME FOR CHANGE.
Ruthven A. Davis ..... Joe , another Marabella Southern Marines man from back in the day !
Welcome to the forum.
We've not seen each other for decades and yet we're on the same page here!
Yours is an excellent analysis and you raise points that I've been harping on for years , but many refuse to listen , and I think that the reason is that it would mean change , and deep down inside , many of us are afraid of change , because it will also mean effort, initiative and some sacrifice.
And I can personally vouch for you being knowledgeable on these issues because , like me , you were there , back then.