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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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Recently Jamaicans have been reacting to a false story that Bajans ban all J'can music during Crop Over!! This is untrue by the way; the reality is that because of Crop Over, the music of other countries/cultures is played less by some stations (not all). The day the F'val officially ends, it's back to foreign music with an audible sigh of relief from the DJs - primarily dancehall, hip hop & reggae.

Trinis are complaining that they are not faithful enough to their own music and culture which Bajans are now doing themselves as we are still saturated with music other than our kaiso and soca; some complain about the prevalence of Trini kasio and soca during our Crop Over when the reverse does not obtain at Carnival!


Isn't there a connect here? Isn't this really a situation where one-upmanship may be the cause of the problem? Isn't that we all want to be THE ISLAND/

When Trinbagonians talk about "pan" they could either be referring to, the music performed by a steel orchestra or the reference could be to the instrument(s). So we must be clear in our heads when we talk about the global promotion of "pan". I submit and most sensible pan people should agree that it is much easier to market the instrument internationally than it would ever be to market steelband music. The reasons too should be obvious. Pan the instrument can be incorporated into any conventional music band and thereby become recognized (this unique Trinidad-invented musical instrument).  The music of the steel orchestra on the other hand is a much more challenging endeavor to market.  First off; the very unique nature of the sound (rubber on tempered steel) is extremely challenging to most unfamiliar listeners. Even when a steelband plays popular music it still requires much effort on the part of foreign listeners to get the groove. Thus we find that the foreigners that delve into steel orchestra music are mostly musicians and music students. To the rest of the global market, steelband music is a hard sell.

So we must be clear what aspect of "pan" we are talking about as we lament the difficulty of internationally marketing this product.

Massi, We have to first market steelband music in T&T.

Big topic, Cecil!!! Lots of opinions. My suggestion is MORE TOURING STEELBANDS. But the management cannot be Trinicentric. They have to get help and ideas from the locals who have lived on the outside ... and that creates another problem right there.

Trinidadians suffer from a serious case of inferiority complex. They never think that they and what they have is of substance. In a land with the most diverse cultures of any Caribbean nation, with so many musical genres to choose from and blend we still choose to uplift others, particularly Jamaica. In the '50s we tried to be British, in the '60s, Americans, today it's Jamaica.

National pride is something kind of foreign to Trinidadians. Listen to the radio stations in TnT see if you can find anyone playing the Pan at anytime other than maybe around Panorama and when it's over that's it for that instrument until maybe next year. So Duvone is on point with what he said, because, jump high or jump low, you do not hear Jamaicans crying down their country for any reason whatsoever and what ever they have they are proud of it.Trinidadians, that a whole 'nother story.The ones in the limelight with the opportunity and the means to spread the culture unfortunately are the ones doing the exact opposite.

The question appears to  be a good one but should be fine tuned for the sake of clarity. The parameters of the term "better -off" should be clearly defined.

I didn't want to comment on this discussion because I find that I keep saying the same things in different ways.

I find that I'm becoming redundant, and maybe I should take Ghost's advise and stick to posting music.

However, I'll repeat myself one more time.

I agree with Bugs, that there are issues of race and class.

However, there is another issue.

Unlike reggae music, which is embraced totally by Jamaicans,  we have been conditioned to think of our culture as seasonal.

There is a religious connotation to the Carnival celebrations, and the Lantern period of self sacrifice.

Growing up, we were conditioned to dismiss anything pertaining to the Carnival for the forty days of Lent. 

This included our local music, calypso and pan.

At the stroke of midnight on Carnival Tuesday, the radio stations stopped playing local music for the forty days of Lent.

Fortunately this has changed, but back then it did untold harm to the musicians abilities to derive momentum from popular Carnival music that was enjoyed during the festival, and by the time Lent was over, such momentum was lost.

I think subconsciously this mentally still exists, and we pan people help to sustain it by having the pre-eminent steelpan festival climax at carnival time.

Carnival is based on the calendar date of Ash Wednesday, which sometimes presents such a shortened Carnival season that carnival activities compete with each other in a two month period for money, time and locations.

Because of the power of Panorama, steelpan activates after carnival are anticlimactic, unable to reach the height of Panorama.

So many of us suspend steelband interest until the next year, and the next Carnival/Panorama season.


My solution is, as it always have been , to extend the steelband "season" by moving the Panorama to later in the year.

This would allow the steelbands to find other ways to participate in and profit from the Carnival, and allow for a long , casual buildup up Panorama later in the year, generating interest, and hopefully revenue, not to mention giving pan people two big festivals to look forward to, the Carnival, and the panorama.

We pan people have to figure out ways to innovate and be creative if we wish the artform to advance, but we have to be open minded and willing to make changes.

We can't wait for others to do it for us.

To quote the bard Shakespeare, who would have been a calypsonian had he been born in this era as a Trini,""The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves"



Panorama attendance would suffer if moved from the carnival season, I too have to repeat myself, carnival Tuesday steelbands only.

Cecil, if a glorious steelband festival like Panorama cannot stand on its own without Carnival to prop it up, then we're wasting our time hoping for progress.

You're trying to tell me that in the land of its birth, we cannot have a successful Panorama festival without Carnival.

If that is the case then its a lost cause.


I am not saying that Panorama cannot stand on its own but we have to acknowledge that about 50% or more of the people that attend are from foreign and they go for everything, panorama is a part of the Carnival package.


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