Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
THEY TIEF WE
Well that is usually the cry when your band loses the Panorama finals, the big steelpan festival during Trinidad and Tobago carnival. Especially if the band was favoured to win or at least give a good account of themselves.
Phase II Pangroove is regarded as one of the big three or big five, that dominate the competitions every year.
This time a lot of people felt that Phase II did not bring it.
The judges placed the mighty Phase in seventh place during the semi-finals of the competition, prompting arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe to change the entire arrangement in the short time between the semis and the finals.
The new version of the music was a complex arrangement of the song with the band going through extremely complicated and challenging passages, drawing on different genres of music, including some very sweet jazz riffs and an extended ending that kept the listener wondering if and when the song would end. The new direction, although admired by the faithful following, brought questions to many as to whether or not the music was appropriate for the Panorama competition.
For one thing the music might have been 'over the heads' of the judges or maybe just too far off centre.
Everybody acknowledges that there is a Panorama formula and it changes from time to time. Andy Narell, the US born and based pan composer, would not compromise his style to fit the Panorama mould when he took the band Birdsong to the finals and look what they did to him. Although the composition and performance were solid, the band did not place, ostensibly because the arrangement was too slow and did not fit into the expectations of the Panorama judges.
Boogsie may have gone too far out in left field, but the long ending was not doing him any favours. To accommodate it, the tune had to be played very fast since there is a strict time limit and in the finals it was played much too fast, falling quite short of the allotted time, so it seemed that the long ending was added to make up time, when in fact it took too much time and spoiled the music by forcing the band to play too fast.
There was just too much stuff going on in there for the judges to catch at that speed. They eventually placed the band in sixth position, drawing a loud response from the crowd that had given their performance a rousing round of applause during the competition. Even the television announcers had Phase II in at least second position.
All Stars, the eventual winner, got the nod because they had popular support of hundreds of their fans accompanying the band, not because the arrangement was so much better, if it even was better, but having a very popular song means that the work is already half done and the judges ruled accordingly.
For Phase II, changing the music completely in the week that it took did not help of course, since a lot of the music was being composed in the last hours before the competition and not every pan player can keep up that kind of effort, no matter how willing they are, but that was not the big problem, as no obvious mistakes were made during the performance.
In fact, the word performance should not have been used to describe one of the main criteria for judging the bands. It should properly be termed execution, since performance conjures up the image of a spectacle rather than a solid execution of the music. So a band that performs well, meaning jumping around, dressing snazzily, adding visual distractions or smoke and mirrors, could well be given more points than a band that simply executed the music well. Moreover, there should be consideration given to degree of difficulty as is done in other competitions, both sporting and musical.
If the judges considered only the musical aspects of the composition, nothing was a good as Boogsie's music and the Phase II execution, but obviously it is not strictly a musical competition. Popular support counts.
In any case maybe it's time the Panorama format was revised
Congratulations to Trinidad All Stars!!!!!!!!!!!!! A fantastic arrangement. The under-rated and un-assuming "Smooth" has done it 9 times for All Stars (10 wins for the band). Last year they placed 6th and rather than complain, which you will seldom hear from the band, they went to work and were rewarded. Playing in 10th position ALL their supporters stayed the course just as they did in the Semis when they played in the final position at 3am. All Stars is class. Last year was "Leave we Alone" and the judges took us literally......this year "We doh business".
"There was just too much stuff going on in there', may be the most salient part of your comment. Generally speaking, 'more' (pans,players.runs and tricks of the trade) does not result in better music. Edit, edit , edit should be a guiding mantra for all arrangers.
Not a blanket statement though lilian. I meant too much stuff going on for the judges to appreciate in only one audition of the music.
As you well know pan music is not like any other orchestra. You can always differentiate between what the strings are playing relative to the brass or the piano to the guitar without too much effort.
Pan orchestras only differentiate between the range of the instruments since they are after all practically the same so its more difficult to figure out what the guitars, four pans, quads, doubles etc are doing.
Degree of difficulty should also definitely be taken into consideration as part of execution.
Morning Glory: BOOGSIE is a GOD on this forum!!!
Come on Brian…. They played first end of story. They just didn’t execute the tune and at points it was a bit difficult to tell which tune they were playing. As for Phase II the music sounded old in a sea of fresh new music and that was their downfall. I will say it again I am an All Stars for life, but there is no complaining when we have lost in the past. We have played in position one and won played in position ten and won, so it really doesn’t matter where you are in the draw. Boogsie may be a genius but I will say it again…Boogsie can only play Boogsie’s music. Congratulations to All Stars!!!!!
They are also human with human sensibilities and organs and the band is on stage several meters away with some sections buried in the band.
If you listen to any panorama arrangements at a slower speed you will hear a lot more of the music than at the breakneck pace of the finals.
Not sure why or how speed became part of the judging criteria.
Wayne, Sharpe has to do music the will move everybody not only Phase ll people, he has to have the North and Grand stands making noise, he has to have WOW factor. He has won before with the criteria as it is.