Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
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
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
Mr. Prescod is hugh on adherence to the criteria, and rightfully so. Mr. Prospect on the other hand is big on music principles and what he refers to as musical intricacies and technicalities. Ms Padmore is somewhere in the middle of both of them. NO ONE IS RIGHT NO ONE IS WRONG. It is just the human element in judging. Here is some food for thought. Is it time that Pan Trinbago decide to take the human element out of panorama judging and make use of technology? I am sure that it would not be too difficult to have the entire judging process be done by computer. Reasearch/develop a computer program that you can input the criteria, input the original panorama songs. Panorama night you input the live performances in real time, and have the program pick the winner. Just some food for thought.
I would be completely against using a computer to do this (and yes, it is possible but very expensive). You can average out the human factor in many ways. That is what Pan Trinbago tries to do by throwing out the high and low scores (these are called outliers). I am not so sure I am in favour of that approach, however. A couple of simple suggestions to reduce the human factor are:
1. Increase the number of judges. I am not sure if its done, but a prep session would be mandatory where they listen and score arrangements from previous years and probably even compare notes on their analyses of these arrangements.
2. Use literal scores (like poor, fair, good, Very good, damn good, excellent and perfect). These could be mapped to actual numerical scores so we could do the math. So poor may be a 0 and perfect would be 100. Doing the numerical scores directly is actually counter-intuitive for most humans when assessing material that is subjective; its difficult to apply a score to the 1st band in the competition - check the stats to see how many bands played 1st and won. Anyway, we use this approach for marking student presentations at UWI and it works extremely well.
3. Allow the judges to listen to replays to facilitate the scoring. This could happen in the interval betwene performances. I am not sure if this is done at present. This may be a controversial suggestion but I have often wondered how many judges have changed their view on an arrangment after the fact. I also could never understand how they could keep sufficiently alert for so long?
Mr Copeland, you have not expressed a real reason why you would not be in favor of computerized Panorama Judging a part from cost. I was just curious to get a bit more from you as the idea of a huge cost does not really hold true. Given, the initial capital investment is an unknown. However, it is not likely that they would have to develop a program from scratch. So what we are looking at, is finding an existing program and enhancing/modifying it to fit a need. In addition this would be a one-time capital investment plus minimal maintenance as the program would be used maybe for two months out of the year. If we were to take the number of judges employed during the Panorama season, factoring in the number of times they are used and their fees, I think in a few years more money would be spent on judges. So from a savings stand-point the system would pay for itself in probably five to ten years.
Victor, a big THANK YOU for your insight and explanations. What happens when a chosen theme is tied in, musically developed and has all the bells and whistles of a well-developed, intricate and exciting presentation based on the criteria you put forth?
Do you think that there is a real cohesion between the points per category assessed by the judges and the comments they make so that each arranger can easily see what needed or didn't need improvement? And how about the 'ties'? Is there any effort to have tie-breakers? There's got to be a way to pull out one facet or another of the bands accumulating the same number of points so that there is some tangible differentiation. Most of us realize that judging Panorama has got to be an extremely difficult job, however, like some of the other writers have stated, some more clarification of the criteria can be a huge step in the right direction.
Pray tell, what does this mean, goodly Sir? - arrangers are creative, so they get into a lot of the creativity which does not necessarily address the criteria...”. If I am not mistaken, the subject is music and I thought that creativity was the first law. Help me understand,please.
The interview nevertheless, is excellent, and I am wondering, based on the wealth of information provided by Mr Prescod, whether we should be concentrating instead on pan development (the instrument); product development (the music, with strict emphasis on quality) and exposition (the shows,with good production managers and marketing). It is being suggested that we have gone past the pan competition.
Well said , Gerald Greene.
And I'm re-reading my post on this discussion from four years ago and my thoughts are the same today as they were then.
I second you comments Foster
GIVE ALL THE JUDGES A BAND TO ARRANGE FOR AND LETS HERE WHAT IS THERE TAKE ON ARRANGING A PANORAMA SONG
Look Chubble Now! :)
All kicks aside, I understand the sentiment. But...another perspective.
Is like saying let Arsene Wenger or Mourinho go out dey and kick a ball nah and see how they do playing in the EPL.
Because you might be a great player doesn't necessarily make you a great coach. And vice versa.
I would think the same applies for judging Panorama.
Now....does it help if you've arranged for Panorama and also a judge? For sure....but not sure if it's essential.
For more than three decades I've been saying that Music and Food are Identical Twins as it all depends on the Specific Taste of the Taster (Judge/Adjudicator). Because some prefer lots of Salt, Pepper of other ingredient, doesn't make mine bad without them.". Not very long ago, one band chose to use a bit of "Swing" in their offering, and they were given the Top Slot. There's no way the Rhythm could have been remained consistent in that regard. I'm yet to see someone dance the Swing on the road in order that they display a Spirit of Carnival.
Secondly, it is the gravest of Injustice to players who sacrifice some four to six weeks working in Panyards some four to six hours nightly, for bands to be judged on their performances coming through the Public Address System, when even the "Sound Engineers" are yet to learn and appreciate the true sound of the various ranges of instruments. Their microphones aren't always positioned to bring the best out of the bands' music. I have heard many a band where some of the sweetest music comes out from the middles, however, it's often completely lost through the P.A. System.
Thirdly, history will show that some of our most respected Musicologists whom have ever arranged a piece of music for Panorama, NONE has ever achieved success and captured the title. With the utmost respect for their knowledge and ability, I've often said that Steelband Music is probably too far advanced for these "Judges" to understand and appreciate. STEELBAND MUSIC HAS NOW BECOME UNIVERSAL, AND I SAY, BRING "PAN" PEOPLE TO JUDGE PAN!!!!!
I DO HOPE I'VE NOT OFFENDED ANYONE!!!!!!
So Panorama 2015 has come and gone…and here we are…again…as we no doubt will de next year and for all the years hence discussing and cussing Panorama. To me two salient points stand out in this interview.
(1)…He also laments the “insufficient emphasis placed on [music] literacy. Because I think (as a musician), you are handicapped if you cannot read and write music….
If it's one thing that Panorama is not improving is individual Panists appreciation of the importance of Music Literacy. The government $1,000.00 cheque plus the now universal acceptance of pan prostitution makes sure that most panists will have no interest in the effort they put for those six or so weeks, more than collecting money at the end of the excercise.
and (2)….Victor maintains that “...a number of times, arrangers try to do so much with their music, that it may be difficult to discern, exactly which range of instruments is playing what, at what point in time….
This year as in previous years many many arrangers (to me, that is) are guilty of "over-arranging". Not because yuh know plenty it means yuh have to show plenty. As deceased Clive Bradley always said…less is more…
Here Mr. Prescod again…“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."
I want to suggest that some of us re-listen to some of this year's offerings posted on WST after reading this interview especially all those who know "dey tief"….The way I see it…and this is mainly directed to Steelband Officials and arrangers…if you are entering a competition, especially one before a panel of judges, be prepared to accept any result….As the my alma mata's moto reads …. Certant Omnes Sed Non Omnibus Palma (All strive, but the prize is not for all)