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Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music

WST member Joel Augustin  asks:

Can someone explain to me what exactly is a "Panorama Tune". For the better part of the last 70 years all types of tunes were played by pan
sides. The calypsonians sang tunes of humour, social commentary, love
etc and the panmen played them with most of these tunes well known to
the general public who could sing along and understand the arrangements.
Today one hardly knows these "Panorama Tunes" as most of them are not
storytelling, funny or thought provoking hence they are not easily
remenbered and their arrangements are lost except to the trained ear.
Today pan is played mainly for the various panoramas. There are
virtually no steelbands at fetes during carnival, as was before, and the
amount of steelbands on the road are dwindling. This is sad despite the
progress made in pan as an instrument. The introduction of certain
aspects to the calypso arena such as panorama tunes, power soca, groovy
soca,chutney soca etc has contributed very little to the art form. I
suppose we can next expect to see a king of panorama tunes competition... click to read statement

WST member and veteran panorama  arranger Pelham Goddard  says:

it is funny that these tunes or songs that people take time to composed could be only term as panorama tunes what happens after that event just forget them and with the pan people thinking come better next year,then what is a better tune is it by the
measure of notes?come on making a recording is for life...
  click to read statement

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Replies to This Discussion

Well said Pelham...I have written extensively about the demise of Pan on the move/streets, and apart from the fact that Steelband, Calypso and Carnival was ONE back in the day, and looks like no hope of a return, everything else progressed except the national instrument. The electronic music phased out pan in fetes, parties, weddings, on the road etc. and the commercialization of MAS, was the final nail, steelbands cannot pull more than 300/500 players except the traditional Starlift on Monday evening....to me the real issue is that arrangers/leaders etc. lost focus with the winning of Panorama. Which steelband today plays 5/10 same year Calypsoes/Soca in their road repertoire, they must go back in time to fill the void, because they learn 2/3 tunes for the current year
What is the benefit of the Panorama Tune - You Ask?
Only the composer of these sometimes infantile ditties can answer that.
I sometimes wonder why these days, things purporting to be progressive, modern and popular are merely faint and weak imitations of creations of a bygone era. Is it because the standard of literacy and the command of the English language have fallen to such depressing depths that the modern calypsonian feels it incumbent upon him/herself to make it simple for the simple minded?
No more, the thoughtful, satirical commentary or the raconteur’s account of scandalous events which punctuated day to day life across the globe. Gone are the elocutions of poets accompanied by students of music whose primary aim was not just to put bread on the table for their dependants but to entertain with pride in their accomplishments.
The standards have definitely fallen in recent years to the point where the only corner stone of the art form that remains intact is the rhythm. But even that is now being dumbed down by the retarded dancehall beat.
I think these labels are for the benefit of the simple minded folk so they can correlate and identify without being confused.
The entertainment business in Trinidad and Tobago has been snared by the modern thought processes which dictate that we must explain to the masses firstly what it is, secondly how to use it and finally why we need it.
Above all the label Panorama Tune must leave us all with the feeling of something transient and the expectation of something new for the next year, in short consumerism.
Randi S Curvan
I've been thinking about what makes a good pan or panorama tune for some time, and I found it difficult to explain, even to myself.

Certain types of music are a natural for the steelband. This includes the classics, calypso, some pop tunes and jazz standards .

Does any remember the year that a pop tune won road march in Trinidad? it was 1955, and the song was "The Happy Wanderer".
Pi**ed of a lot of calypsonians, as I remember.

I still remember the chorus, "Val-deri, Val-dera, my Knapsack on my back". Now, that obviously was a good pan tune.

Reggae , for instance loses something on the pan.

The fact is, a good calypso is a good pan tune. Pan and calypso grew up together, and fed off each other.

In the old days, the Road March was actually the tune the steelbands played on the road. There was even accusations that calypsonians paid panmen to play their tunes, since there were so many good tunes available.

Remember Black Stalin's calypso from back in the day:

"Beat my tune on Carnival Day.
Beat my tune , it's the best la-vway
And if you beat my tune I ent skylarking,
By the time Carnival come, I go be the Road March King"

The calypso phrasing and tempo were ideal for the pan, but with the modern soca that all changed. The modern soca style is not easily or sweetly expressed by the steelband.

Now, I know that arrangers are so talented, they could arrange anything. but I have to believe that they would prefer to arrange any tune from the late Lord Kitchener, than say Fay-Ann's "Heavy T Bumper".

The only people singing songs suitable for pan were a few of the old timers. Even today, the better pan calypsoes are created by the older singers like Crazy, De Fosto and Shadow.

Panmen were forced to look elsewhere for source material.

Pan masters like Boogsie, Pelham Goddard, Robbie, Professor, Mr Ray started creating their own music, and so the pan tune was created.

In my opinion, the music of most pan tunes is structured to allow the arranger freedom to be creative and to challenge the pannist to excel.

Some of these tunes are quite complex and the lyrics are not easily recalled.

Think of great panorama tunes from the last century. Something about the calypso itself stuck in your memory, and even became married to the pan arrangement in one's mind.
It may have been the story told, or something unique that caught on.

(I cannot think about Super Blue's "Rebecca" without thinking about Desperadoes, or Sparrow's "Doh back Back" without thinking All Stars.).

Maybe it's because I'm getting old, but I cannot remember the lyrics to many pan tunes of the last few years, although to be fair there have been some good ones.(Crazy's "Band from Space" for instance was an outstanding pan tune).

There are a lot of "good" pan tunes out there, but to be a great pan tune it also has to be a GREAT CALYPSO.
A pan tune or pan song is just another category in our music, you have the groovy soca , power soca , extempo
social commentary or political, these are all different ways to enjoy our music, now mine you i love the carnival and the road music but i love pan more so i write with that in mind, even if you might think the melody may not be pan worthy or the lyric have nothing to say about pan, i love pan . so i am writing from the heart and soul for pan cause that is what i love ,
as pelham said '' What happens after the event, well when Trinidad and Tobago turns it off the world is turning it on
there is Panorama competitions all over the world when TNT is over , pan is in so many countries and they are competing
so when that event is over in Trinidad and Tobago, it's the begining for the rest world. so all you all who are writing your songs and calling them pan tunes, write on !! cause that is how you feel it, and see it , somewhere in the world someone will here it on WST..


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