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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


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You, sir, are quite correct. Too many rules spoil art.

The views we are getting in majority of  cases e.g. competitions / elections results, is simply because of this fact, the 'loss syndrome' ailment persons acquire aftermath - which is expected, and  which can also literally kill persons at times, if such ones are not cautious. Every supporter wants his / her  steel orchestra / political party (even though they did not meet the criteria), to win during the relevant period. And when it does not happen on the night in question...............................................................!

The fact of the matter is, only 1 political party can win an election, and only or 1 steel orchestra can win a Panorama competition (I find it difficult to understand 2 steel orchestras coming in the 1st position - different arrangements - despite being the same tune at times, different performance / different performance spirit, different arranger and pan tuner in most cases, different judges), but yet still.........................................................................!     

Why does everyone go on an on about changing the Panorama format????? Why does everyone forget what Panorama was created to do??? I was around when the first Panorama occurred and it happened so that the bands could compete at CARNIVAL TIME to show off their music that they were playing AT CARNIVAL!!!!!!
An intrinsic part of the rendition of each band has to include THE CARNIVAL SPIRIT - that is...the calypso beat. The jump up part of the tune that sings to every man & woman & child's soul that it is indeed CARNIVAL TIME!!!
When I hear people prose on about stupidness like Andy Narell "not compromising his style to fit Panorama".... It really pisses me off. If he didn't want to play Panorama style music....then he shouldn't have become an arranger for Panorama.
Have a music festival where Andy or Boogsie or anyone else could fly high and arrange their music in any international style they wish!!! But Panorama music is CARNIVAL MUSIC AND THE JUDGES QUITE RIGHTLY MUST TAKE THIS THIS INTO CONSIDERATION when judging each band. I am a die hard Phase II fan but in my estimation and I was there at the semis & the finals - Boogsie has to put away his ego and start arranging CARNIVAL music for Phase at Panorama. The cycle of self compositions is dying!!! The soca tunes are becoming more musical and can be used by the bands again.
The joy in the music of All Stars & Despers on Carnival Saturday night was something that lifted the hairs on my arms as I listened....they embodied the CARNIVAL spirit!!!! You could hear it....you could see it ..you could feel it!
That why they win and de Phase lost!! No CARNIVAL SPIRIT!!
.......and Mr Cezair don't be so pretentious by saying Boogie's music was "over the heads of the judges" !!!! He just didn't bring it this year and I sincerely hope he realizes this. AH DUN!!!

Char Burgess.Right on!

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