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A questiom for this Forum: Should Panorama Judging be abolished?

Should panorama judging be abolished?

For the longest while I've been pondering this question, and my usual answer has been no, we need competition, because it brings out the best in the bands and arrangers.

But listening to Nu-Tones Panorama winning performance of David Rudder's "High Mas" for the umpteenth time, I realize how subjective the judging really is.

I mean no disrespect to the legend Clive Bradley, and nothing against Nu-Tones (we all love to see the lesser known bands succeed), but I've listened to this tune upside down and across, and I still can't get the vibes that the judges got from this tune that competition night.

I've even listened to the tune after trying some of the stuff that the judges may have been smoking and I still can't get it.

Now, I don't have any credentials in music No degrees, accolades or letters after my name, but if there is one thing I know, it's sweet pan music.
And I also know that music , like beauty being in the eye of the beholder, is in the ear of the listener.

I've been loving pan since biscuit drum, pan round neck days.
One of my earliest memories is of my dad taking me to see J'ouvert, and seeing some large men beating drums hanging around their necks. They were chased by the police, because as they beat their drums they were chanting some obscene lyrics to the tune of "I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts" , which was a hit in 1950.(I checked).

So I don't need any judges to tell me how pan music should sound.

Take Panorama 1984, for example. This is one of my favorite panoramas of yesteryear, though there may have been too much of "Lucy in the Savannah".

Check out the top four placing bands. They were:
1) Kitch's "Sweet pan" by Renegades (Jit)
2)Sparrow's "Doh Back Back" by Trinidad All Stars (Smooth)
3)Kitch's "Tourist Elsie" by Casablanca (Henry "Bendix" Cumberbatch).
4)Baron's "The Jammer" by Desperadoes(Bradley)

Now does anyone have the right to tell any of these four arrangers that someone else's arrangement is
"better" than theirs?

You may like one arrangement more than the other , but is it "better"?

It is purely subjective. And subjective decisions can have serious impact on the fortunes of bands and arrangers.

Another case in point.

Can anyone really say that Jit's " Mystery Band" was better than Boogsie's "Birthday Party" in 1993?
It is your right to prefer one tune over the other, but does that make it better?

Forget about all the BS about judging criteria. We are talking about music, and it's all in the ear of the listener.
I personally think that Professor's "Pan by Storm" may have been his best work ever, and the best performance of 1990, yet he was not a "winner".
I think it's Insulting.

One of the main reasons for the competition was to channel the rivalries between bands away from violence and into something more constructive, and in that we've succeeded.

Now it's time for something different.

Don't worry Panorama lovers, I do have an alternative suggestion.
We can still have the preliminaries and even the semifinals.

It would be relatively easy to pick the top dozen or so bands in the land.

Let the Final night be a Festival instead of a competition, and divide the pot between the bands appearing at that time.
The bands themselves (or the steelband governing body) could decide whether to divide the pot equally between all the bands, or maybe to use some sort of a lottery system where all bands would stand an equal chance to win the top prize. This way, nobody feels like a looser.

I don't believe that outstanding pan arrangers and bands need competition to produce great music.

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Comment by Foy Barnes on August 10, 2010 at 4:20pm
My dear Mr. Joseph, I have followed your commentary in this forum and must say that some of it is very insightful and spot-on. However, for you or anyone else for matter to entertain the idea of not judging a panorama final is totally absurbed. This is not a new idea and when I heard it first from Ray Holman, it had no merit and now it still does not. It is the friendly rivalry of a judged panorama that keeps the bands sharp. Without this annual ourburst of creative pan genius, the bands will all exist in their own little worlds driven by nothing but ego and in a few years the overall standard of pan would drop right accross the board. Bands need to get out there get their behinds whooped and experience the agony of defeat. It makes them hungry and keep them striving for a higher standard. JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION.
Comment by Sweet Eustace on July 29, 2010 at 6:42am
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXdQ-UTJweg&feature=related , this is what happen when you have judges and a lil off thread for all those who accuse silver stars of beating pan check this one out
Comment by Glenroy R Joseph on July 28, 2010 at 9:40am
I really appreciate the thoughtful comments and ideas expressed on this and other subjects by the members of this forum.

I am also impressed by the civility of our discussions here even though we are passionate about the subject matter, and sometimes strongly disagree with each other.

These discussions can greatly benefit the steelband movement worldwide, as these ideas are not only relevant to PanTrinbago, but to steelband organizations worldwide.

Hats off to the pan lovers at WST / Pan on the Net for providing this stage for us to express our opinions.
I know that it takes much effort , energy and other resources to maintain this site, and we do appreciate it.

I do hope that steelband organizations around the world recognize the value of this forum, and consider the thoughts and ideas expressed here when making decisions that affect the future of Pan

Again, Thank you, WST.
Comment by Noah on July 27, 2010 at 11:31pm
"relegated to medium class" that's an insult to all the medium bands & their arrangers, who honestly give better and more interesting music than the large these days.
Comment by CURTIS WILLIAMS on July 27, 2010 at 10:49pm
NO,I think that the problem is with the present set of judges we got that are all caged in one small box and they must tell some arrangers that it is time for something new in their music.
Comment by Sweet Eustace on July 27, 2010 at 8:51pm
oh yes there was champs in concert even thoug it was not a contest the bands practiced hard as if it was a competition and turned out just as large and strong so that should answer all phobias about the lack of competition will kill the show
Comment by S. F. Thomas on July 27, 2010 at 5:12pm
1) No problem with a GRAND FINALE, it sounds like a good idea. I hope Pan Trinbago is taking notes. But, if it's for the money, the public will in the end vote with their wallets. Of course, smart promotion can make a difference. But at the end of the day, you have to give the public what they're willing to pay for.

2) Ranking system. Bad idea in my opinion. Every year the competition starts afresh. Of COURSE the "big name" bands will have a subliminal advantage. But that advantage should not be formally acknowledged in any part of the competition. Winning last year should not give any band an inside track on the competition this year.

However, I would agree with a system where playing position in the finals depends on where a band placed in the semis. In other words, let the band winning at the semis have first pick of position for the finals. And let each band choose its position one after the other, in order of rankings at the semis.

3) Large/medium/small pertains to size, not quality. If a medium size band grows to meet the criteria for large-band status, then let it compete with the other large bands. If a large band shrinks for whatever reason, and only a rump remains, let them compete in the appropriate smaller size category. This is different from a sports league where you have championship league, minor league, and etc.

4) BIG TRUCKS and AMPLIFICATION. Good idea. Maybe. That's for the individual initiative of each band. Again, the paying public will decide whether it's really a good idea. As for me (showing my age again) the real pan experience is acoustic. Even the highest technology can't beat that. But that's my view from the demand side -- I am a supporter, not a player, except maybe to play a little iron, and generally add energy and encouragement ... and of course pay the band fee and extra on top. The view from the supply side may be different -- I don't have a problem with pannists that want to get paid. But if pan goes high-tech on big truck, I personally would rather go and have fun with a band only out to have fun, doing it the old-fashioned acoustic way... even if I have to help push pan up the hill on Rushworth St. (S F'do) as I used to do in my youth.

Just my 2 cents.

- Big Sid
Comment by Patrick F Joseph on July 27, 2010 at 12:03am
PANORAMA in TRINIDAD IS GREAT. However there need to be some more financial incentives for Bands. Just Saturday a member of our Band was discussing the PANORAMA ISSUE with me. He was an old Despers man who had been around with Charlo. He suggested that after Panorama there should be an ALL STAR Show. The first 3 Placing of each Category, Large, Medium and Small, including THE TIES, if there are any. should meet in a GRAND FINALE after Carnival. This is to bring more Financial/Equitable benefits to Pan Players and their Bands and to keep PAN ALIVE more than ever. Of course a Ranking system should also be formulated where it is expected that at least the winner of the Medium and small Bands be mandated to progress to the next level (Large and Medium respectively) This is to give the other Bands a chance at the Championship at the Medium and large Band Levels. To maintain Quality, it is suggested that each year the last 2 Bands in the Large Band Category should be relegated to the Medium Band Class. If this works out well, the same can be applied to the Last 1 or 2 Bands in the Medium Bands to give room for the 1st 2 Placing of the Small Bands. The Competition for the ALL STAR PANORAMA COMPETITION is suggested for MAY/JUNE.
As far as bringing back Pan On the Road for Carnival,AMPLIFICATION is the way to go. The Technology is hugher/greater and affordable now than in the seventies. We and all can produce our own BIG TRUCKS. One Band, same tune/tunes on each BIG TRUCK. Our Masqueraders would be able to hear us as any D J. Our supporters would be able to play Mas' withy us as before the era of the D Js. Bands can then qualify for a reasonable good 'BAND FEE'
We love the PANORAMA COMPETITION but we, the Pannists, need a more equitable share of the Money to develop and upgrade our Bands ......................Patrick 'P J' Joseph ( RHAPSODY REBIRTH, the New Generation)
Comment by goslet piper on July 26, 2010 at 11:11pm
I love pan but I feel too much time is spent during carnival time on practicing for Panorama. Pan men don't get a chance to enjoy carnival. Judging should be eliminated. Let them play as in a concert. I really don't think you need competition to produce good music. Also the members will spend more time to practicing more tunes, not just one and on the road they can play more tunes and maybe eliminate all those big trucks.
Comment by S. F. Thomas on July 25, 2010 at 5:12pm
Sweet Eustace,
Each to his own, I suppose. Those who relish competition will enter. Those who don't will not. There might even come a time when some or other of the big bands or big arrangers turn their back on the Panorama, the way Sparrow did with the Calypso King competition. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
- Sidney ("Big Sid")

PS. Rudy "Two Leff" Smith gave me that "Big Sid" sobriquet once. So maybe I should use it on this forum.

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