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Would pan be better off if it was a Jamaican invention?

Ace panist and arranger Duvone Stewart says


What do you think?

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I add my two cents as a great admirer of Calypso and Pan.  I play pan in and around the Chicago area much to the smiles and entertainment of those who pass by.  I am a white fellow.  Every now and then someone will pass by and say, "Hey, you guys aren't from Jamaica." To which we reply, "Neither are these."  I love telling the history of pan as I know it to anyone who will listen.  Of course, I keep hearing slightly different versions depending on who one wishes to credit the marvelous invention- Winston Spree Simon, Ellie Mannette, then later advances by such names as Bertie Marshall, and Leroy 'Ali' Williams.  Jaco Pastorious included pan in his later recordings with Othello.  For me, the pan is to instruments, as Calypso is to music. They will never be widely appreciated worldwide because they are too beautiful for the common casual observer.  Anyone can love reggae.  It is very simple and approachable, often two or three chords and repetitious melody.  Rain-o-Rama plays over 16 bars without repeating a part.  The pan is so beautiful as it's arrangement of 4ths and 5ths in the tenor, Leroy Williams hailed it- one of the few truly perfect things in the world.  With the tuning placing an octaves and harmonics at the edges of the notes, these instruments are simply magical.  Calypso and Pan are not for the masses- they are for the elite appreciators of fine fine sound. I park me Jaguar most anywhere.... The bronze statue of Kitchener in Woodford Square is truly testament that Calypso and his reign as Monarch did not go unnoticed.  Pan community is developing all over the world and many people have fallen victim to its infectious sound.  I was playing on the sidewalk outside of a Chicago Cubs game last week when a Trini came walking up says, "Who here play pan? Who here can show me to play pan?" I played a few songs for him and we got to talking about eating the doubles on the streets of Trinidad, and getting Roti at the local shops.  We got to talking about Boogsie and Othello and Bertie, and I tell you... It feel so nice to be a part of such an elite group of music appreciators!! Thank you all for making my life rich and full!!

Nice comment Greg, I like the point you made about Rain-O-Rama 16 bars with no repeats to reggae two or three chords  with repetitious melody, I also LMAO at "I am  a white fellow"

Haha, yea boy! BTW, I do love a reggae tune as well.  But my heart belongs to Calypso. Love that '67 jam.  The rhythm and melody are killer!

First of all, I take liberty to congratulate Duvone Stewart for sticking his neck out, but he's Trini and he knows the risk of a lambasting is all part of the course in taking a little licks now and then.  He has and continues to do his part for pan in more ways than none.  Now I'm not intending to put words in his or anyone else's mouth but another try at the wheel would suggest the thoughts and conversation this is provoking might be better served by pondering and wondering this way...

"Would pan be better off if it was a Jamaican invention, the way Reggae Music was developed globally?"

Comparing the art forms, whether to Calypso and/or Steelpan is not that fair. They are distinct forms of afro-inspired innovations and T&T's art-forms are a very sophisticated part of our cultural history.

I also do not like when we attack and devalue our compatriots acting more like crabs in a barrel than the good people we are.

What suffered for the pan movement is the detachment from the socio-cultural and socio-economic goals and aspirations of led by stalwart George Goddard (c.f. The Steel-band in Trinidad : Should it be seen as Art, Culture or…....)

The "pan politics" since then has seen a collapse in the movement where many have given up and the apathy has seen some leaders take advantage to exploit the weakness to the distinct advantage of themselves and their allies, and Lord help anyone who dares get in their way, because they will be sharing licks for sure...

Boogsie did not say "steelpan is dead in T&T" for joke just after he was awarded the nation's prestigious Humming Bird Gold Medal, for joke or by chance. Nor was his follow up composition calling all to "Do Something For Pan".

What we need to do is emulate the business plan Jamaicans formulated and put into action to support the sustained deveolopment of Reggae Music. I listened to a conversation David Rodigan had with a number of Reggae Artists about just such a plan which was envisioned back in the 1960's and sustained through the growth 70's, 80's, 90's and into the 2000's and 2012's...

What have we got to lose, but to start we need to discuss and formulate a blueprint, n'est-ce-pas?



Although I admire the thoughtfulness and clarity of your contribution, I think I need to point out two things.

!. The plan that Radigan et al. envisioned did not really come to fruition. It did not include developments like dancehall, which has become almost mainstream in Jamaican popular music culture. (in fact it would frown on it)

It seemed to point to Jamaican artists taking advantage of MIDEM and aiming at making the music attractive to the lucrative US market. However, the artistes themselves stuck to their guns and most kept looking inwards and at pleasing themselves and their audiences 'back a yard'. This is why, despite repeated warnings and sanctions, so many of them are willing to sacrifice international acceptance for Jamaican working class/Rasta acceptance by their insistently ultra-conservative messages which, for example reject homosexuality outright.

It is this insistence which I believe has kept the music ultra-Jamaican in its structure (the simplicity of its chord-patterns that so many of the discussant have sneered at), its language (still often deep patwa) and its message.

But it is also this insistence that has kept the music honest, true, vibrant and 'real'  and this, interestingly, is what has made it so attractive to the world. Jamaicans respond viscerally to it and this fascinates the world -- most youth want to share in the real excitement that is generated at a reggae concert.

So I think we, in dealing with calypso, should continue(?) to let the artistes do their thing as Trinis and, maybe, there nay be another calypso rage. But if it does not happen, so what? As long as it serves us, does what makes us celebrate it, what is the problem? I am not saying that we should not market calypso, but we have to find a way that suits us -- not follow anyone.


2. Steelpan, now, is another thing. When Boogsie said that pan was dead, he did not stop. He said 'IN TRINIDAD''.

He may be right, I think, as it seems to have lost a lot of ground at home. But I would like a researcher to estimate how many pannists (or I should say 'people who play in a pan side/orchestra/ensemble) there are in the world now, as compared to 20 or 40 years ago.

The growth has been exponential. I suspect that no other type of instrument has this type of growth internationally.

That must say something about its being 'alive'!

Good banter, but don't think David "Roddy Ram Jam" Rodigan led the Reggae Movement per se, he just facilitated it through research and support with exposure.  The journey of reggae through all it's various evolutionary forms like; ska, mento, rock-steady, dub, dancehall up-to-and-including reggaeton has its purist and detractors.  I know some hard-line reggae enthusiast who frown on anything that is not of the latter-day Bob Marley "conscious music" form.  But at the same time as a people, they support the Reggae Fusion movement which the radio interview (I'm trying to get an audio link and transcript) demonstrates.  The cultural development transitioned, but as the would themselves say, we don't mind work, as long as we get pay.  Out of that was born a determined effort to build the economic part, which I sense most pan movement supporters sense and suggest we are lacking in T&T, hence Boogsie's call to the "controllers", to "do something for pan".  As for we foreign, who live outside of T&T, we also fight to keep Pan Alive, but trust us the struggle continues...





In this instance, the Pan Community (panist, steelbands, tuners, students, teachers, parents and sponsors) closed ranks and came together to give voice and support.

Now as the debate continues, we have to find a way to press for changes in T&T which is the Pan Mecca, to all "do something for pan", not unlike the efforts which saw TASPO's tour proudly bring steelpan to the world...

Recently I Made A Comment Standing By Duvone Concerning This Matter I May Have To Change My Statement Because I Think About It And Came To This Conclusion.The Steelpan Isn't A Singer It,s An Instrument Just Like Any Other Instrument. Pan Has Been Played In Probably  Every Major Concert Hall Throughout The World  Where Else Would You Like It To Go.The Problem Isn't With The Instrument.The Problem Is With Arrangers.Take Some Of The Winning Arrangers For Instance Unstoppable At Panorama,Has He Ever Written A Classical Piece For Pan And Take It To Carnegie Hall, Most Of The Music That,s Been Played On Pan Is For Panorama Or Some Body Else's Music,Your Not Gonna Win A Grammy Award Or Any Other Award For Playing Pan It,s What You Play On It,Start Writing Great Music For The Instrument Then I'm Quite Sure It Will Take It's Place Along Side Great Instruments.Boogie Wants Somebody To Do Something For Pan Is It For The Pan Or For The People Who Play It?

Shame on you Duvone, to entertain that thought, Steel Pan has not attain its heights because of the selfishness and ignorance within its fraternity. Not until we understand the through value of our invention, will it attain success. The two of the most important ingredients to reggae success, was simplification and marketing. We have three major problems, the Instruments, the Bands and Panorama. Until we have an innovative governing body that lays down a path for success only then and then will pan achieve greatness. Duvone In case you don't know it was a Trinidadian musician by the name of Merlyn Taitt who migrated to Jamaica and was instrumental in the origination of the Reggae Music.

Yes 'Orlandosteve', I remember 'Lyn Taitt and the Jets' as an important element when Reggae was being evolved in the late 60s/early 70s.

But what does that have to do with the present discussion? Its about the marketing of Pan! People are claiming that it was some kind of national pride that made Jamaicans invest in and market reggae, not the plain old profit motive, which I think it was.

Investors (Jamaican and otherwise) realised the marketablity of the genre and went in to it to make money -- and they did!

Straight case!

Yet when the Big Man question the support for Pan in the Land of Pan, people quick to question his motives...  http://whensteeltalks.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=2534462:Topic:37...  What would happen in Jamaica if they tried to do the same thing, I wonder???  

YES! T&T should come to some arrangement for Jamaica to market pan as a commercially viable product. Even though pan is the national instrument - as prescribed by law - of T&T it is not respected as such. It is T&T's gift to the world of music but successive governments and privately owned businesses have not made real efforts to capitalize on its potential.

Sad, but very true.

What wrong with you????...yuh fall and hit yuh head of what???


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