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‘But de judges tief!!’.... -- Revisited -- The job of Panorama Judging Realities and Myths

Victor Prescod - Performer, Educator and Adjudicator - In the Spotlight

On judging, Victor believes that one of the things that needs to be looked at is the
criteria for judging. 
“Many times persons fault
the adjudicators for results, but the adjudicators can only work
within the established criteria.  And - competition is a strange thing
when it comes to music.  Because, there are some who say competition
stifles creativity - and in a sense, it may.  Once you enter a
competition there are criteria.  And if you are hopeful of being
successful in the competition, then you  need to address the
criteria.  What I have found is very often - the arrangers of music for
pan, may not fully understand the criteria under which they
are being judged.  So that - arrangers are creative, so they
get into a lot of the creativity which does not necessarily address
the criteria...”

In speaking directly to the competing arrangers, Victor goes on further to say that
“the tendency - for most of the competitions I’ve has judged - you
have 40 points for arrangement, 40 points for general performance,
10 - tone, 10 - rhythm etc.  But under arrangement you look for
things like melodic development, motific development, and
re-harmonization.  A number of times, arrangers will move
the melody around, within the pans.  So you play the melody with
the front line pans, you move it into the midrange, move it into the
background, you bring it back, you might change the key - but you
still have the same melody.   You’ve never developed the
melody.  While you’re doing this, there’s lots of lovely
things happening around the melody with the other pans - but the
melody itself has not been developed.  So that the music sounds
good to the average listener.  But melodic development never
happened.  So you’ve lost points there, and your band does not
win, and you say ‘But de judges tief!!’....”

Victor explains the similar misconceptions arrangers and fans have with
harmonization and the jam session.  “Sometimes
- arrangers simply change the key.  So you have the same basic
chord structure - in a new key.  You have not re-harmonized...
or you go into the jam session - (this is my favorite one), lots of
- lots of creative music happening in the jam session, that has
nothing to do with the piece that’s being arranged.  So that if
you take a jam session from Phase II, and you drop it into an
arrangement by Renegades that happens to be in the same key, it will
work - because it’s just music that has no reference to [the] tune. 
And that may be - a minute and a half of music that really, does
nothing towards the criteria, and no marks are really given for it - but
it sounds good!....”

click for more panonthenet.com/spotlight/2009/vprescod-1-09-09.htm

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Victor, what do you have to say about this scenario which happens very often. All scores are in the high eighties and even early nineties but one or two judges score the band mid-seventies. Are they evenly qualified? Did they listen to the same arrangement? This has happened even this year (I will not call names). In my opinion, some judges have serious biases against some arrangers/bands. I am sure you can attest to this, since you have also arranged or co-arranged for panorama and the band failed to make the finals, even when everyone knew they had winning music. In some cases, the judges really tief!!!!!!
Well said Sophie. Bias is probably a criteria for "some" judges, eh. The scoring is farcical. Some arrangements are beginning to remind the ardent fan/listener of an overly adorned Christmas tree - without lights! When last was one able to "whistle" any part of the winning band's tune on leaving the Savannah? The music , the sweetness, the groove gone. But my dear....until next year, Blessings.

(oh, i see i am WAY late here but never mind ima answer anyhow)

"When last was one able to "whistle" any part of the winning band's tune on leaving the Savannah?"

---> just this year.... Radica -- here it is December and that tune STILL in my head some mornings when i wake....


(however in general i take your point and absolutely agree. there were a few bands i heard in the practice yards this past season...stayed and listened with intention for hours and still could not make sense of the tune and the jumble of 'ornaments' they were playing)

Victor, there will always be problems even if the criteria is enhanced and made clearer because music is subjective. The scores of the judges also reflect this as pointed out by Sophia in her post...

Somewhere in the criteria there is mention of RHYTHM and there are points awarded for it, but simply saying RHYTHM is vague...does it mean a consistent rhythm throughout the arrangement, a fast tempo, a slow tempo or something else? By itself it is left open to the interpretation of the individual judge or arranger.

There are also other categories that are vague.
This is the second time you have brought up the rhythm criteria claiming that it is vague, and it is apparent that you have never seen a score sheet. I would like to explain to you how it is broken down. It is not as vague as you suggest. The 10 points come from three sub-categories: 4 points for consistency of tempo (not rate of tempo, but ability of the band to maintain the set tempo for the duration of the arrangement); 3 points for cohesion of the rhythm section (are the rhythm men playing together or out of time?); and 3 points for creativity and effective utilization of the rhythm section (does the rhythm section blithely play on for 8 minutes or does the arrangement cater to them too).
Noah, thanks for the breakdown.

So according to the rules...the speed of the tempo has no impact on the scoring, and that judges will only look for a consistent tempo maintained throughout the arrangement??

So when we hear commentators or past judges say, "The band played too slow"...those statements actually mean nothing in terms of the judging right?
It is interesting that this interview from November 2008 has been reprised. Interesting, because yesterday I was considering whether or not I should comment on some of the issues raised in this forum, especially with regard to judging criteria. So I take this as confirmation that I should.

Here's my proposal: over the next couple of weeks I will dissect the criteria and their definitions, as they currently appear on the scoresheet, giving my interpretation of how they are to be applied; and inviting comments from folks. I will begin with Arrangement, which is sub-divided into: Introduction (8 pts), Re-Harmonization (12 pts), Melodic Development (10 pts) and Motivic Development (10 pts). Every couple of days I will post on each.

I am currently at work and do not have a scoresheet with me, so the first posting on this will be tonight, or tomorrow morning.

Hi Victor

The only way for the art form to move forward and for us to get better is for people like you to do just what you propose to do in a forum just like this. I look forward to your posting.

Greetings Mr. Prescod,


My orchestra is in the National Conventional Semi-Finals 2011 - Medium Category. I have watched all of your 5 Videos twice and read every single comment on this discussion thread. It has provided me with the valuable necessary understanding of the tools used for the assessment criteria for the Panorama competition...written and unwritten.and more.

Please forward on this forum the sub-divisions of the other categories (General Performance, Rhythm and Tone) on this forum please at your earliest convienence., so that I can ask my colleague NOAH on this same forum to excellently break down the sub-divisions like he did in his reply post on February 20, 2010 at 12:50 a.m.

My band will need every tactical tool in its arsenal to execute its innovative musical strategy. Understanding the criteria, written and unwritten I believe is the key. Foy Barnes, Lloyd McKell, Khune Rose, Noah, Brian Copeland and others,thank you for the musical education. Mr. Prescod, I eagerly await your timely response.

To all of my fellow pan players who have now exited the competition based on the judging of their performance in the prelims listening in............PowerStars has a few contracted vacancies for a few winning crew members......Practice resumes tonight at 8 p.m.! Apply Within at the PanYard....


Many thanks to all


Gregory Lindsay

Manager of PowerStars Steel Orchestra.

Mr. Prescod, is there a particular Panorama arrangement(s) that you can steer us towards that will help guide the listener who is trying to understand the judging criteria? I find this conversation very interesting and their needs to be written and published material regarding this aspect of steelpan arranging for Panorama. Each component should be broken down in more detail. Such as Gospelpan explained about Rhythm (fast/slow, complimenting the tonal arrangement, etc). And yes there is that aspect about what just sounds "good" to the ear. Their is always room for bias when dealing with human beings especially if they are also involved in the pan industry in TnT. Should we then ask for foreigners to judge our people's music? We are the best judges of our music but I think explaining in detail the arrangements of the winning bands and what made it their arrangement a cut above the rest would help make things more clear!

Trinidadian ethnocentrism doesn't afford the room to suggest that foreign ears and prejudices will more readily adjudicate what in is essence "a cultural expression in music". 

Panorama is an animal that is closer to musical theater than a typical music competition. You must play, dance, sing and entertain. The content of the music has to have effect not content. The arranger isn't expected to be an intellectual he/she is expected to be a shaman; capable of inducing trances, and transporting the mood and consciousness of the audience (the spectator and judge) into an ecstatic state. 

If the music and performance (as a unified product of the orchestra) cannot produce an emotive and tantalizing affect, it will fail to be successful. This means the players' execution must be close to flawless and the arranger/composer must be able to understand the neuroscientific relationship between music (as a product of culture) and the body. 

Panorama is deep, but horribly misunderstood. Like the Gladiators of Rome we watch bands succumb to the arrogance{http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/arrogance} and reputations of others for our entertain and excitement.

In the end our goal must remain to "Do Something for pan" and to play "pan for peace". 


Khuent, I wish I had written that comment. Many times I tried to explain what makes for a great Panorama performance, and I hopelessly tried to include the spiritualism needed, and you did so flawlessly with “ the arranger isn’t expected to be an intellectual, he/ she has to be a SHAMAN”....that’s what I have been trying to put across so many times.

You Sir, understand what it is about.... as sometimes the music that takes everyone’s soul and feet, and takes them on a trance like journey, doesn’t even really meet the criteria.

Thank you Khuent!


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