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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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So what happens when an arranger actually follows the criteria but a judge just does not like his band for their own personal reasons, then what?????? This has been happening to me for the past two years, there are judges who are just simply biased. In a panel of 5 judges, how can 4 give a score in the 80s and 1 give a score in the 60s, what is that 1 judges hearing that is soooooo different from the others, or is she hearing anything at all or in her mind judged the band even before it performed.
I also think that this is extremely interesting because I've also dissected the detailed categories of the scoring criteria and have taught it to people in symposium and have had discussions about it with professional composers and arrangers at College.

I'd love to join in this conversation. Admittedly, I have to consider some of my own biases not as a steelpan arranger, but as an educator. I do think that at some point or another in this thread the reality that many of the bands that have consistently placed well during panorama competitions in fact do not follow much, of this criteria but, that is particularly why forums like this exist: to expose the inconsistencies and flaws in our work.
I totally agree with this MR. Prescod. This is true on most if not all occasions.
Nice thread. Very much look forward to the discussions and Mr Prescod's dissection of the judging criteria.
Excellent thread. Looking forward and can't wait for more posts.
Good toplc i totally agree i would like pantrinbago change the judging system bring back the five judging system that was working great i dont know about this high and low want do you think mr prescot
i eagerly await Mr Prescod's dissection of the judging criteria. because i seriously had issues with this year's competition and the results. as one mentioned earlier, how could silver stars win with an old alien tag that had nothing to do with battlezone....mr prescod i would like u to address that too. so if d name of my song or the theme of my song is Gospel, my introduction can be Lay Lay yuh bam bam and because the audience like it i will get full marks and even win a panorama???? if so, thats silly. and quite frankly that introduction from silver stars, had nothing to do with their composition. so please clarify that mr prescod....
Dear Pan lover,. for you and the pro Phase 2 crowd who are trashing Silver Stars, I say " shame on you". This is a band who has recently stepped up in class and have totally dominated. The first win some might say is a fluke, but to come right back a second time and repeat, they are LEGIT. They should be highly commended. As far as the use of a classical excerpt in their intro, well my friend, that is there for any arranger to do likewise. The internatinally accepted rule is that if the original composer has been deceased for one hundred years or more, his compositions, all or in part, can be used by others. Lets us not forget that Phase 2 has used symphonic endings in two of their last three panorama tunes that have taken them to the winner's circle. May I inform you that these are not Boogsie's creations. These endings are in fact classical excerpts that were used verbatum. No attempt was even made to disguise them. I have yet to come accross any negative comments towards Phase2 in this regard. The only real difference is that Boogsie used them at the the end, while Silver Star used them at the begining. For those of you who criticise their habit of running the music scales repeatedly, this is their "Key Signature". It is no different than the "Ali Shuffle" or Renegades in their heyday unleashing a barrage of quads in every tune. Also, the antics of the band's conductor has its place in the preceedings. These days when bands are seperated by mere fractions of a point, any gimmick that is going to give you the extra half point, is a worthwhile thing. Come on, let us give Jack his jacket. Silver Stars deserves better. Peace!
I look forward to Mr. Prescod's dissection of the criteria. I believe that the adjudicators' marking should be comparable if the criteria is adhered to when judging. There should not be 80s and 60s on the same arrangement. Logically it should not be more than 7 marks difference if all the judges are qualified for the task. I hope that arrangers and judges tune in to this, as I have been hearing many arrangements that do not conform to the criteria yet they receive top honours. "Some arrangers could stray, boy".
That is why they should return to the system of dropping the highest and lowest scores. Too often a band has been sunk by a spoiler judge, intentional or not. It's ridiculous for a band to get high 80s or low 90s yet come so low because one judge threw it all off giving them a score 15 points lower...
Excellent discussion, Mr. Prescod, and I eagerly await further additions. As an educator, I am keenly aware of using criteria for assessment and how those not familiar with the criteria, or who don't understand it, can completely misunderstand the final markings. Or how ignoring the criteria can seriously affect final scores. On the other hand, I have also seen judging sheets where "comments" completely contradict the marks given. In many cases, over a number of years, the comments were vague and displayed no expertise whatsoever. (In the realm of a university student "faking" an essay question.)
Thank you Victor, for these insights. I'm wondering whether a clearer judging distinction between bands might not be established if points were awarded only in multiples of 5. For example, in the arrangement category, a performing band could only be awarded one of the following scores out of a possible 40: 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40. In this way, if the judges believe that a given performing band's arrangement is better than another, then the difference must be at least by 5 points. This would lend greater clarity and credibility to the judges' assessments, than if the judges awarded a 1 or 2 point difference between two bands. I am not sure that people can grasp and appreciate the difference between a band scoring 28 points out of 40 for arrangement and another one scoring 27. I certainly cannot. In this example, respective scores of 25 and 30 would give a better idea of how the judges rank the bands. It would also force the judges to be a more committed to their assessments of the difference between bands as they see it.

Lloyd McKell, Toronto


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