Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
Katzenjammers steel orchestra. Medium Band category. Arranged by Edwin Pouchet. Performed at the Queen's Parks Savannah, Trinidad & Tobago, February 18th 2012.
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Looking at the big picture, the question is: Should the Panorama competition be the end product or goal of the steel pan culture in Trinidad and Tobago, or should be Panorama competition be a driving force or even catalyst for the growth and development of steel pan orchestras and communities throughout the nation?. The latter approach, I believe,has greater potential for furthering the long term growth of steel pan. If the former is considered to be more important then, we might as well have one combined competition for bands, say between 75-125 players, select the best 10 through a preliminary round and go straight to a final. This will surely kill if not weaken the steel pan movement. I think its important to look at Panorama or for that matter any of the steel pan festival competitions or events as contributors to the development of the steel pan culture in TNT, while providing popular attraction and appreciation at the same time. On Glenroy's point about the need for a differential in prize money between medium and large bands, that makes sense for the reasons he has pointed out, and I do agree.
@ Glenroy - That's one of looking at it, the other is the understanding that the medium category was a scheme concocted by the executives of Pan Trinbago for the sole purpose of allowing their personal bands to share in the prize monies. Simple put it was a way for bands that can't compete musically to avoid getting licks. The fact is it the large bands that are driving the pan arena in Trinidad and Tobago. A few years ago - the medium bands held their panorama on a separate night, It was a ghost town. Almost no one was there.
There is absolutely know need for three categories.
I agree that the musical distinction between some of the medium bands and some bands in the large band category is minimal.
A medium band with the full complement of players would have been considered a large band in a different era, and they do have a full big band sound.
It is quite conceivable that in an open competition, some of the medium bands could even have made it to the final round.
However, the chances of them placing in the winners row against bands numbering up to 120 players are pretty slim.
I agree that bands in the medium category shouldn't be considered "second class" bands, since some of our top bands are medium bands, and they deserve to have their own final night.
Many of these medium bands are historic steelbands. The often repeated expression that there are only eighteen big bands leave me saying, "So What?"
The only difference between some medium bands and the large band category is sponsorship.
For logistical reasons, however it is obvious that the larger bands deserve more compensation.Logistics being the greater cost of transportation, maintenance and all the other costs associated with operating a steel band, not the least of which is supporting a larger number of players.
The medium bands have now proven that they don't deserve the second class status that they have been traditionally accorded simply because they are limited to a lower maximum number of players than the large bands. Their performances and the excellence of their musicianship on Saturday night demonstrate that they they don't need to take a back seat to the large bands. In fact, in my subjective opinion, I heard several medium band performances which were superior to some of the large band performances. Indeed in respect of the medium and large bands, there is the presumption that "bigger sound" from the large bands is superior to the "not-so-big sound" of the medium bands. Well, on Saturday night I honestly could not make that distinction in sound between many of the medium bands and the large bands. Many of the medium bands sounded equally as full and as resonant as the large bands, as well as as excellent.
What this all means to me is that the medium band category should be retained, but they should be elevated to an equivalent status of the large bands by having the medium band final competition on its own night separate from the large bands, say on the Carnival Thursday night at the Savannah. and awarded the same level of prize money as the large bands. This would help to remove the ill-deserved second class status of the medium bands and would give steel pan aficionados an additional opportunity to enjoy steel pan at its finest. It may take a couple years to build, understandably, but this goal will inevitably be achieved. A likely and worthy spin-off will be that some of the existing large bands may opt to compete in the medium band category. in any given year and move back and forth as they choose in subsequent years. This would make competition more interesting and would serve to enhance the equity of status between the two categories.
There will also be an additional positive benefit to pan lovers and players. The present final night competition which combines both medium and large bands is way too long, some 8 hours of performance, so much so that many fans exit the Savannah prematurely, prior to the end of the large band performance, either out of exhaustion or when they think they have heard from the expected winning bands, depending on who plays in what order. On Saturday night, fans left in droves after Phase 11 played. This seriously shortchanges the bands who perform in the lower order.
Pan Trinbago should seriously consider this option to establish parity between the medium and large bands. Congratulations to Katzenjammers, Buccooneers and Courts Sound Specialists. and the other medium bands. You were fantastic.
Well done Katz, well done.
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