When Steel Talks

Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

Revisited - Pelham Goddard - Thoughts on Panorama and Judging

The following was forwarded to When Steel Talks by veteran arranger Pelham Goddard

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pelham Goddard challenges the qualifications of the judges

 

It is the view of the public-at-large that panorama music today has become the judges' piece and does not have the sound and feel of arrangers' music of long ago. Recently I read a comment on When Steel Talks in which the person spoke about the real panorama hit tunes of years gone by.


Pan Trinbago is conducting seminars in which arrangers meet with the judges who will guide the arrangers in producing their work for the market. This is bordering on insanity since these very judges are unqualified to guide any arranger as they are generally NOT arrangers. Judges are usually selected from musicians whose specialties and certifications do not include arranging, orchestration and composition. How then can these judges guide arrangers who are, more likely than not, more skilled than they in the area of arranging?


Arrangers are usually more knowledgeable and creative than the judges since they must know all their chords, harmonic progressions, voicings in all keys, counter melodies, counterpoint, modulations and so on. I will like to see or to hear or, as a matter of fact, go to where these judges perform their work; at the least, they should provide examples to the arrangers.

 

click for full story

Views: 1202

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

OH GAWD!! OH GAWD! LORD HAVE MERCY HERE WE GO AGAIN, I CHIMED IN LATE AGAIN FOR THE RAMA AFTER FAILING DUE TO CONECTIVITY I HAD TO HEAR THE RAMA PIECE BY PIECE ON YOU TUBE HAD A FIT WRESTLING WITH MY SITUATIONS STARTED WORK LATE, GOT HOME SAW THE RESULTS AND FROM THE GET GO I GOULD TELL THAT THE RESULTS WERE UNFAVOURABLE THIS YEAR ANY OF THE REMAINING 5 BANDS SHOULD HAVE WON INSTEAD OF ALL STARS, MIH RECORD STICKING SO I WILL HAVE TO PLAY IT AGAIN AND SAY THAT AFTER LOOKING AT SEVERAL SCORE SHEETS FOR SOME YEARS THAT THERE IS ALLWAYS CURRY FAVOUR THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH JUDGING AND NOT ALL THE JUDGES ARE TO BE BLAMED THEY ALL SIT TOGETHER THIS YEAR ALL STARS PLAYED FIRST SO THOSE WHO FAVOUR ALL STARS HAD IT EASY ALL THEY HAD TO DO IS SCORE THE FAVOURITES LOWER , AND THAT TAKES CARE OF THINGS, SOME PEOPLE DO NOT BOTHER TO EXAMINE THE SCORES THOUGH AVAILABLE FOR SCRUTINY AND IF OUT OF 7 JUDGES 5 SCORE A BAND  IN THE 90'S  AND 2 SCORE THEM IN THE 60'S THEIR MEAN AVERAGE WILL DROP TO THE LOW 80'S IT WILL COME UP WHEN THE HIGHEST AND LOWEST IS ELIMINATED BUT ONLY TO THE HIGH 80'S, WHILST THE FAVOURED BAND MAY FOR EXAMPLE BE ASSESED IN THE LOWER 90'S AS OPPOSED TO THE MORE POPULAR BANDS WHO MAY BE IN THE MIDTO UPPER 90'S ON THE 5 JUDGES SCORE SHEETS THE CURRY FAVOURED BAND WILL STILL END UP AS A WINNER IF THE BIASED JUDGES SCORE THEM HIGH AND THE OTHERS LOW, SEPERATE THE JUDGES WILL PREVENT THEM FROM KNOWING HOW HIGH OR LOW TO SCORE AND IF THERE ARE TWO MANY INCOSTINCIES IN THE RESULTS IT NEEDS TO BE VOIDED, SO A POST MORTEM IS SUGGESTED HERE AS A SOLUTIOIN SINCE PEOPLE WANT A CONTEST IN A NEAR IMPOSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCE WHERE CRITICAL JUDGING IS NOT BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE, PELLHAM CONGRATS ON A JOB WELL DONE YOU THE BAND THE MANEGEMENT AND THE TUNERS AND THE VARIOUS SUPPOURT GROUPS DID AN EXCELLENT THE LONG AWAITED VIBES THAT STIRED US UP IN THE 70'S IS FINALLY BACK, EVEN THE EXODUS HATERS HAD TO RELUCTANTLY ADMIT THAT IT WAS A WELL DONE JOB.

ONCE AGAIN A DISGRUNTLED ARRANGER GETS DERROGOROTORY AND SORRY FOLKS ONE DOES NOT HAVE TO BE A COOK TO KNOW IF A MEAL IS TOO SALTY OR NEEDS SALT, HOWEVER WE EAT CERTAIN THINGS AND LIKE IT SOME PEOPLES FROM OTHER PLACES MAY NOT LIKE WHAT WE EAT AND VICE VERSA, A TRINI MAY NOT LIKE LICORICE OR ROOT BEER, BUT WILL EAT TOOLUM AND DRINK GINGER BEER, AN AMERICAN MAY THINK THAT TOOLUM IS NASTY AND GINGER BEER IS TOO STRONG, WE MIGHT SAY THE SAME FOR ROOT BEER AND LICORICE, THE BOTTOM LINE IS WHEN IT COMES TO OPINIONS THERE WILL ALLWAYS BY DISCREPANCIES AS FAR AS WHAT IS BEST AND WHAT IS NOT THE CRITICAL ANALYSIS WE HAVE AS A PANORAMA CRITERIA HAS NO PLACE IN A SHOW WHERE THERE IS SO MUCH ACTIVITY DURING EACH PERFORMANCE    

LAST BUT NOT LEAST PELLAHAM NOT ALL ARRANGERS KNOW THEIR ONIONS THEY HAVE AN ACTIVE IMMAGINATION AND THEY EXPERIMENT TILL THEY GET THE DESIRED RESULT OR SOMETHING LIKE IT, I KNOW AT LEAST TWO ARANGERS WHO DO NOT KNOW COW FROM BULL FOOT ABOUT CHORDS, SCALES HARMONY OR ANY MUSIC THEORY AND THEY WON PANORAMAS AND I KNOW MANY ARRANGERS WHO ARE IN THE SAME BOAT THEY FISH FOR THEIR NOTES AND IT BECOMES ARRANGEMENT NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT LIONEL RITCHIE ONE OF THE BEST POP SONG WRITERS OF OUR TIME WAS ONE OF SUCH PERSONS, IN CASE PEOPLE THINK I AM TALKING BOUT BOOGSIE AS ONE HE IS NOT HE KNOWS MUSIC MAYBE AT ONE TIME NOT THE WAY WE KNEW IT BUT HE KNEW HIS ONIONS ALL THE TIME AND BY THE WAY HE DID NOT LEARN EVERY THING FROM RAY, HE IS A WEST MAN AND HAS THE WEST FLAVOUR, JUST AS PELLHAM DID ONE TIME BUT HE CHANGED IT WHEN HE WENT TO EXODUS   BUT THE WEST FLAVOUR IS BACK, THANKS ,BIG SID NICE TO HAVE YOU BACK, PELLHAM DONT FRET YOUR SELF AND NUFF RESPECT TO THE JUDGES , RON BERRIDGE AND FORIEGN JUDGES MIGHT STILL GIVE UNFAVOURABLE RESTULTS

Sweet Eustace,
Good to see you again, also.
As usual you make a lot of sense.
Being a cockroach in fowl party I was going quietly to disappear from this discussion. But I'll say only one more thing.
I think calling for arrangers to do the judging would eventually be seen to be a big mistake ... but only after the Panorama descends into irrelevance. It is what happens to any art form that is of, for, and by the artists themselves. It turns into a mutual admiration society from which the general public is excluded. So I quite agree that you don't need to be a chef to know when there is too much salt, or not enough. Selah.
Be that as it may, we can have foreign judges who may be presumed to be unbiased, without having to show score sheet in advance. Just limit it to musicians, musicologists, arrangers and etc. of the Caribbean Basin area, e.g. Haitians, Cubans, Bahamians, Antiguans, St. Lucians, etc. Their musical aesthetic shares the same roots as ours, so they know about "breakaway", "lavway", etc. though by different names. They also know how to create and play music by ear and by rote, as opposed to score sheet.
For what it's worth.
- Big Sid

I think this is insulting.

 

Would you forbid Andy Narell from judging just because he's American?

 

What about someone of WI heritage who was born and raised in Brooklyn, Toronto, London or another diaspora location. Do they get a pass cause of their parentage?

 

This assumption than non-WI foreigners can't understand the music of Trinidad and Tobago is as foolish as the opposite. Maybe they should bring in American judges for Pan in the 21st Century, then; after all, by your rubric the only people fit to analyze American pop music are... Americans.

 

I can think of several people who have no TT or WI heritage whatsoever - living in and outside of TT - who understand panorama and in general Trini music, culture, and art on a very deep spiritual level. And I know for a fact that they would do a wonderful job judging a panorama.

 

Heritage has nothing to do with it, but experience, knowledge, and dedication. Isn't that the problem we're talking about? Local musicians with no experience in pan judging... pan? I wouldn't bring in an American drumline judge to judge panorama. But someone who has spent their career playing and studying the artform - a Narell, a Remy, etc.? Absolutely. Who cares where they are from?

 

The answer is, as it often is in many situations, diversity. If we're going to bring foreign judges into the mix, have it be a combination of foreign and local. But to dismiss all foreign judges on this basis is, in my eyes, ridiculous.

Actually, I am in favor of no-category, no-criteria judging by the general Trini public. However, I accept that there are practical difficulties in such an approach, voting mechanics specifically.
I accept expert judging only as a compromise. And experts are required only because the bands/arrangers accept and agree beforehand a judging formula with musical categories and criteria. If you have musical categories and criteria, you are submitting to objective assessment, and for that you need musical experts. I am not one.
However, I do not agree that you need musical experts who are the peers of the arrangers competing. You need musicologists yes, but only because the judging rules have laid down musical criteria to be objectively assessed. They need not themselves be panorama arrangers. Again, you don't have to be a chef to judge whether the food the chef prepared has too much or too little salt.
A problem with foreign judges arises if they ask for a written score beforehand. So says Pelham Goddard, arranger extraordinaire, not me. Arrangers at Panorama need the freedom to change the arrangement even up to the night before. In any case, the Panorama competition is a contest of creativity, not how well bands perform against a written score. So any judge coming with that mindset already is unsuitable.
The foreign musicians who have absorbed the local culture will perhaps be able to appreciate all aspects of T&T music. Here the issues are not purely technical. Pop music is not the standard here, rather the specifics of a folk culture. Panorama comes out of a folk culture. It may in time morph to an international genre with accepted musical conventions, like pop music. But for the moment, it is still a folk music. When Smooth put tassa drumming into his Curry Tabanca, that was an innovation to which the Trini public could instantly relate. The relationship to curry might well have been lost on a foreign judge. If we have foreign judges, you inhibit the local arrangers, because they have to now factor in how well they *think* a foreign judge might relate. I am not saying that a Remy or Narell cannot master a particular folk idiom in relatively short order. Only rather that on any given Panorama night, they might have to negotiate idioms drawn from tassa, Shango, stickfighting, parang, soca, ragga soca, chutney, etc. etc. The cultural influences in little T&T are many enough to confound a foreign judge who has not spent the time necessary to soak it all up.
Familiarity of a foreign judge with the full variety of musical folk arts in T&T would not be sufficient. Particular pieces can also come up. If I say "When ah dead bury mih clothes", Pelham Goddard and most other Trinis would be able to recall the stick-fighting chant exactly as it is supposed to sound, and give me the next line. Andy and Jeannine may or may not. If I say "amba kai la", this too Pelham Goddard would instantly recognize. Andy and Jeannine may or may not. Etc.
So my objection is not to foreign judging in itself. Nor do I suggest that a foreign musician cannot master any piece that may be presented to them, and indeed even improve upon it (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ9lHg7rXcY ) . Rather it is to the inhibiting potential it would represent. The art form is still evolving and may stop evolving if too much structure is imposed that in effect prejudge the limits of the art form.
But in any case, if for other reasons -- to minimize bias for one -- the local arrangers want to have foreign judges, then my suggestion would be to opt for foreign judges who are cultural near-neighbors. For practical purposes, Andy and Jeannine may well count as local (therefore possibly counted as biased!)
- Big Sid

The champions of 2009 and 2010 large panorama, Silver Stars, used no such local reference as "when ah dead bury mih clothes" in their music.

 

I did hear, however, foreign-penned musical pieces such as the theme for the Olympics, and the 20th Century Fox theme song referenced in both victorious arrangements. Not just referenced, but used as the introductions, defining the rest of the arrangement to follow.

 

Where were those judges from?

 

As for written score... in no way is that a practical suggestion and I would not want to see that at all...

Noah:

Let me explain by drawing an analogy.

All Trinis speak English, and some of us very very good English. But we all also speak Trini dialect. In a Trini lime with only fellow Trinis we speak one way. When a foreigner is present, we shift to accommodate the foreigner. Eventually the foreigner learns the dialect, and such shifting is not required for their benefit.

It is the same with the music. A foreign judge will cause a shift in musical "speech", because the arrangers will not want to risk a local musical allusion that they know or suspect the foreign judge will not "get". And even if they "get" it, the true Trini sweetness of it may be lost on them. So the arrangers will shift their musical speech to accommodate the foreign judge. Which is not to say that the arrangers cannot in any case use musical allusions from a foreign source, as in the Silver Stars arrangements you mention.

When we opt for foreign judges the result also will be to cause a shift in the musical "speech" of the Panorama toward the international, and away from local musical idioms. I think that would be a "bad" thing. Some may well see it as a "good" thing as it may facilitate international market penetration, and therefore maximize the $money$ to be made from the culture. I don't have a problem with panists making money, but I think preserving and extending the local culture is a superior virtue.

Not all will agree. But since it's "we ting" it's for we to decide.

- Big Sid

Lol@ Big Sid, 

The analogy of accents is an interesting one. But the argument against foreign judges-following the line of your analogy- then means that either the judge isn't intelligent to discover the nuance of "trini" or that the trini dialect is intelligible. 

 

I understand that you speak from a place of pride for Trinidad and the pan is a large prong of it's culture. But Panorama in it's current state is a competition not an expo. You agree that there are marketing aspects that will need to get explored- especially if there will be 2 mill for a first prize.

 

That being said, I am for art before profit. "Panorama"- the musical theater production- could int he future be paying homage to the heavy cross-cultural nature of trinidadian ancestry : African, Indian, Amerindian, European, Arab, Asian... 

 

You're right... it is "your" thing... but the foreigner is just as much a part of who you are as anything else might be. Consider that "west indians" are a corruption of what a confused explorer thought was paradise. In the wake of his discover he massacred millions and destroyed civilizations because he looked at something meant for everyone and said "it's mine now".

Kheunt... he is not saying anything about intellect... but the fact is that when I go to the states or england or they come here and I speak my dialect, they don't get it... when they are around me for a while, they get it...

 

Sid is simply stating the same holds for any language (and music, as u know, is a language). We express our culture in our music and someone who is not from here may not get that right away, but as they are around us more and hear our calypso and our soca and older music and see the bacchanal on the streets monday and tuesday and take a drive through laventille and then through wet moorings and then through caroni and then through penal etc etc. they may slowly beging to understand why our stelpan music is expressed the way it is and may be able to better judge it in itself. Without that kind of experience... it would be (to stick to music) asking a classically trained musician to explain a jazz solo that was totally out of the key but still sounded good... why did it sound good? He/she doesn't know... it just does.... or maybe, to them, it may not sound good because that is not what he/she learned...

I understand that the emotive qualities that you're hoping the judges understand when they listen to a band's panorama performance. However, those moments of time you encapsulated aren't being translated well to many orchestra. Calypso requires story-telling and an effective and affective arranger must be able to convey that story well.

As far as the "accent" issue goes. I understand what you are saying about the variants in accents. I have seemingly good diction but I still speak with a heavy "Caribbean" accent that anyone paying attention can notice. Adjudicating the idioms of Calypso does require familiarity Caribbean music. but if your judges are MUSICIANS it won't make a difference.

My time studying music- in and out of academia- have taught me that music is a plural, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic entity. Oddly enough these are the same traits shared by Calypso. it's multi-everything. The top arrangers have always incorporated classical, latin, reggae, jazz, chutney, R&B, zouk... EVERYTHING... becuase they are MUSICIANS FIRST and steelpan arrangers SECOND.
I don't think it makes a difference whether not the judge is Trini or not... It is important that they are a well-rounded musician that understand the nature of the competition and idioms of its history. nothing more. chippin' down frederick street should be left to frederick street. The blue devils can remain blue and the Shango drummers can continue invoke the deities. If these are the episodes of the story that they arranger wishes to express, he or she better know what they are doing.

Khuent... the problem is that if a calypsonian sings a song abt the blue devils and uses the traditional rhythm of the jab jab whistle, and the arranger loves this piece and uses it as his/her central piece of music in the arrangement.. the one repeating theme... a judge will only be able to hear it but not understan why it was chosen. They may think "that piece is so monotonous.. why would an arranger use that". However, someone who is familiar with it may realise "this IS the jab jab that the song talks about" and may better be able to accept and judge based on THAT.

 

That is the difference I am talking about... there are things that are expressed in calypso/soca that are not really expressed elsewhere and those things come out in panorama arrangements too. If a judge is familiar with it... great... as I said in my post above, it is not until someone experiences some of these things can they really understand the arrangement of some of these arrangers. I agree that it doesn't matter where the judge comes from... just that they have to have an understanding of Trinidad and Tobago before they can even think about judging our competitions.

 

That being said, like with any other job, our local talent and knowledge should be tapped before looking outside simply from a patriotic/financial standpoint... why give jobs to foreigners when we have skilled and qualified people here to do it... and I believe that we DO have skilled and qualified people here to do it... our judges are given poor criteria to work with and that's one of the main problems. The other one is their approach to music... it does not allow for the kind of freedom and creativity that arrangers use in their arrangements...

Noah: ONLY TRINIDADIANS could judge calypso and panorama ... end of story. Yes, some child born to Trinidad parents in Brooklyn might emerge as a pure judge, but that is a low-percentage incidence. One day Trinidadians will wake up and realize that we CANNOT play Reggae and R&B and Salsa and the rest of the world CANNOT play Calypso and Soca ... much less judge it.

 

NO FOREIGN JUDGES!!!

You have to be very careful on this on Mr. Gonzales.  Dalton Narine did an interview with arranger Raf Roberson on the panorama a couple of week ago.  The response to it by the Guardian pan reporter "Buzz" was that both Narine and Raf should leave the country.  Are Raf and Narine not qualified to talk about panorama? Are Raf and Narine not Trinidadians?

 

bugs

RSS

© 2021   Created by When Steel Talks.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service