- The format of a panorama
tune has evolved because of the early innovations of
arrangers who actually gave the judges ideas for the
categories of judging. Today some arrangers get so
caught up in following the rules that their creativity
is sometimes stifled. If one sticks to the idea of
knowing that the judging is based on four main
categories (arrangement, performance, quality of sound,
and rhythm), then one can allow the creative juices to
To understand how the format of a Panorama arrangement
evolved one must briefly study the early masters of
arranging. To begin with the musical selections of the
first panorama tunes were not that harmonically or
melodically difficult. This gave room for the arranger
to think about how to lengthen the tune into a steelpan
arrangement. The first master of this was Anthony
Williams from Pan Am North Stars who should get an
honorary doctorate in music and metallurgy as a natural
born genius in all aspects of pan. It is to his credit
that we have the panorama format still intact. With his
second panorama win in 1964 playing the tune “Mama Dis
is Mas” he was the first arranger to add an
introduction, modulate to the subdominant key and
re-orchestrate a new section (background instruments) of
the band playing the melody. The very next year Bobby
Mohamed pushed the envelope even further by winning
panorama with his arrangement of “Melody Mas”. The
arrangement was not only about music but also about
size, power and impact. This was the first time ever
that over 150 players were on a panorama stage; he
literally blew the crowd away! Musically if one listens
to Bobby Mohamed’s arrangements one will find he does
not always use whole sections of the verse and chorus in
his arrangements. Hence we have one of the first uses of
motivic development, which was later re-defined by Grand
Master: Clive Bradley. “Melody Mas” had one of the first
uses of jams (repeated chord progressions with an
improvisation on top) and pitting the orchestra (call
and responses between the backgrounds and frontline). In
a nutshell Bobby Mohamed was experimenting with balance
and orchestration. [music transcriptions of the two
arrangers mentioned above can be purchased at
www.theblueedition.com/ under Canboulay
The signature sounds and experimentations of
Clive Bradley, and
Len “Boogsie” Sharpe
have also left a huge impact on the quality of sound in
a panorama tune. Ray Holman started the whole thing with
his “own tune” and Boogsie followed. Mr. Holman along
with Earl Rodney,
Robert Greenidge and others have
colored up the chord progression with their knowledge of
extended chords, reharmonization and their use and
understanding of jazz styles. It is this author’s
personal belief that arrangers are still searching for
ways to be different and yet please the crowd. The
impact of the crowd is not supposed to sway the judges
in any fashion but their response cannot be ignored.
This year the crowd cheered the loudest during the
selection of Edwin
Pouchet’s arrangement of “First in De
Line.” Although one would not expect the entire audience
to be musically trained, the arrangement called out to
them and drew them into listening to the different
sections of the band...especially the cellos. The music
spoke for itself and there wasn’t really a need for
anyone to conduct the band in front and point to the
sections of the band that we were suppose to listen to
right now. That seems to be a new conducting
style…jumping around in front and pointing to sections
of the band they want us to hear.
Formally speaking the panorama arrangement would be
classically explained as a double theme and variation:
the double theme being comprised of the verse as the A
section and chorus as the B section. We would expect to
hear the following components of a panorama arrangement:
a dynamic introduction and then the original verse and
chorus. From there it’s up to the arranger to develop
(do variations on) that verse and chorus melodically,
harmonically, rhythmically, and texturally via
orchestration and band balance. There should be some
connection to hearing pieces of the original verse and
chorus that relate to the arrangement even when the
listener feels they can’t get any further away. That is
the trick…how far can the arranger take the elements of
the tune and still make it recognizable as the tune.
Deep into the development of the tune the themes are
churned and twisted like battle zone. That is the beauty
of it all. The methods of getting us into the
development of the tune vary from arranger to arranger
but mostly we should hear bridges to modulations (key
changes to different major keys or a minor variation),
episodes of jam (sometimes called a montuno), stops,
polyrhythemic patterns, hemiolas, crescendos and
decrescendos, swelled rolls, percussive accents, a
change in style or feel (like a Latin section) all
compounded to add to the continued musical excitement of
the piece. A good arranger will feature the themes in
different voices and interweave a countermelody in
another voice. It’s all about tension and
release…keeping the audience and judges guessing “what
next?” and then to “wow” them with what is next. There
is no set order for any of these events but eventually
in the last 45 seconds of the tune it is expected that
the arranger will take us back home, after running all
of the bases, and play the verse and chorus…or just the
chorus. This is called the recapitulation. The final
thing is the ending or conclusion that sends the final
message to all of the listeners that the piece is coming
to and end.
Recently we have heard in panorama arrangements the
influences of Boogsie Sharpe’s stops or silent breaks,
and his Classical “Beethoven” tonic dominant endings.
This year Boogsie had an extremely long break in his
“Magic Drum”; only a hi hat could be heard keeping the
count. The musical quotation/sampling “band wagon” was
heard a few times. We will exclude Renegades from this
because their tune was based on quoting music from the
past in “Dr. Jit” but for me Amrit’s arrangement was
like a test to see how many quotes of winning Renegades
selections one could detect. Again Silver Stars shocked
the audience with an introduction that used the “Olympic
Theme”. I also think what was so shocking was the fact
that the full band “tutti” was not used at the very
start. Instead, the frontline instruments started their
arrangement with the Olympic Theme. That was a different
orchestrational introduction. We heard an introduction
like this a few years ago when Despers started
Space with “2001 Space Odyssey”. The other quote I
noticed was in Redemption’s arrangement of “First in De
Line” where they used a fragment of Bunji Garlin’s
“Green Banana”. One last originality observation on this
year’s panorama goes to Carlton “Zanda” Alexander for
his arrangement of “I’m not Drunk”. This is probably one
of the first times I heard the original verse and chorus
stated in the background instruments first. That was
innovative and creative.
Other things in recent years that have affected the
panorama arrangement are the length of the tune. The
change from 10 minutes to 8 minutes means that there is
less time to say more. If one studies some of the
panorama music before the 8-minute time limit one will
find that the variations were repeated. Now there is no
time for hammering home your beautiful variation. Ray
Holman’s music was notorious for repeated sections. One
does not have the luxury of hearing his sweet chords a
second time. Why the 8 bands and 8 minutes? The music
industry has often regulated timings of tunes based on
what will fit on the vinyl. Has it become that the
musical manufacturing of selling DVDs has influenced
this change too?
The last thing to discuss is the balance and set up of
the band on stage. Balance in the placement of pans on
stage does affect the sound. This has nothing to do with
canopies or no canopies but the balancing and mixing of
the sound that the judges and audience hears without
mics. There is no set rule to set up other than the
arranger must know what parts are weak and/or what parts
need to come out. The 100-player rule for large
conventional bands this year had the audience waiting on
the count. Those bands that had more than 100-players
were not abiding by the rules. Bands like Phase II and
Exodus (and maybe some others) were guilty of delaying
the show. This must have affected their performance when
the audience was booing them on stage for taking so long
to set up. That must have been traumatic for the players
as well. Imagine one is all geared up to play and you
are suddenly tapped out. Someone has to give here.
Either the players have to follow the rules or Pan
Trinbago has to up the number again. All part of the
Trini bacchanal I guess.
I would like to congratulate all of the bands that
competed this year and I look forward to hearing all of
the bands again next year. Each and every band did a
Last year I was thrown into the arena of announcing
because I think they couldn’t find anyone else and I was
their last resource. I have always been an armchair
commentator and never in this life thought I would be
called upon to voice my opinion on what I heard. Here
are excerpts from some of the notes I took at Panorama
2009 as the bands were playing. I was not able to go
around from panyard to panyard to listen to or prepare
my comments for television. My commentating is the here
and now. I am not able to physically write down
everything I hear as it happens live but below is a
synopsis of some of my scribbled notes.
Here are the notes I took on the bands as they were
playing on stage:
RBTT REDEMPTION SOUND SETTERS
“First in D Line” –
The group appeared smaller on stage.
The count was slow.
The intro was not as solid as expected.
Overall the engine room/drums were not balanced well and
sometimes lost in sound.
The cello section had some nice countermelodies.
I noticed a reharmonization on the first variation but
it stayed in the same key.
The tenors were generally unclear in the upper register.
The arrangement used a lot of motivic development from
After the key change there were lots of percussive
accents and the use of the one-note off beat hook from
There was a minor section that had some question and
answers between the low and high pans.
There was a real rough modulation that was not seamless.
Used a quote from Bunju Garlin’s Green Banana song.
There was a nice rise into the jam section.
Lots of chromatics up and down with the use of some
Used a classical ending.
Overall the arrangement did not have a direction and I
felt it was searching for keys. It used lots of cliché
licks and the tenor section was unclean most of the
The band was disadvantaged in that the show started late
causing the audience to be on edge.
“ Festival Time” -
The intro was energetic.
The tempo was good.
They had a clean sound and good balance on stage.
The original verse and chorus was stated clearly but the
original tune didn’t have much melodic range or harmonic
Good clean breaks were done.
Nice cello solo and feature.
Good use of hemiola.
A scalular rise added nice tension to the arrangement.
Use of swelled rolls for dynamic contrast.
The tenors had some nice percussive “brass-like” punches.
The basses were walking at times “quarter notes” a good
The arrangement had lots of chromatic ups and downs.
There were feelings of Classical music in this arrangement
in the cellos and basses.
There was only one repetitive section that was probably a
The arrangement used different scales (not major or
minor…more altered half whole combinations).
Had a tight ending.
Overall the stage presence of the performers was enjoyable
to watch. Each player was performer not just a player. The
only downfall was the choice of the tune and time the
audience had to wait. I think we counted Festival Time was
played about 15 times before we actually heard the
arrangement. This was due to counting players on stage.
– Robert Greenidge
Good tempo throughout the entire piece. All parts could be
heard and nothing was lost.
Nice rising intro and tasteful use of a chromatic scale.
This was a good choice of tune because of the melody and
The verse and chorus were well articulated and true to the
The chorus leads to the feeling of redemption with
interesting chords swelled dynamically by the players.
The first variation had a nice use of reharmonization. There
was a good formula of frontline and backgrounds coming
together at just the right moments.
The arrangement was full and rich.
The second variation had the backgrounds playing the melody
with the frontline playing a wonderfully constructed
Variation 3 had good motivic development that went right
into a jam.
The minor section had trilled swells, which allowed the
backgrounds to be heard.
There was a unison shouted section by the band.
The basses were most welcomed in this arrangement. They were
heard and very tasteful.
The colour of the chords used were very Trini in that there
were lots of 69 sonorities.
This was a textbook arrangement that feature the whole band
“ First in De Line”
The count off was faster than any band that had played so
A dynamic introduction, which sampled the Olympic theme as a
There were some very brave dissonant harmonic moments, which
was welcomed from the same old cliché chord changes always
The introduction made the listener aware of the offbeat hook
from the chorus that acted as a percussive accent throughout
The players looked young on stage.
Silver Stars captured the audience’s attention from the
intro on down the tune.
The cellos were featured in two distinct sections (1) they
played the theme (2) they had a Latin feature.
Another interesting arranging moment in the basses. A
thunderous boom and it wasn’t a mistake.
The tenors had a lot chromatic rises and work to do.
There were dynamic swells that added tension to the
The jam sections were very different and percussive. Very
There were good modulations and the arrangement never lost
By time the band had reached the recapitulation the crowd
had already interrupted with cheers twice.
There was an excellent drum solo that energized the ending.
Overall very exciting, full of new sounds, fast tempo, young
players and the singer at the checkered flag.
NEAL AND MASSY TRINIDAD ALL STARS
“Pan Rivalry” –
Leon “Smooth” Edwards
The introduction was solid and the count off was a good clip
of a tempo.
As expected, the performers are seasoned making their
articulation clean and concise.
The rolled sections of this arrangement were clean.
The arrangement had a lot of pitting between the backgrounds
Very tight harmonies and chromatic scales.
The modulations and development of themes were flawless.
The cello section was featured in a very long horizontal
There was plenty of motivic development and the
reharmonization was noted.
The arrangement sounded like a conversation between
different sections of the band.
The engine room was powerful and the pans had good quality
The recapitulation was clear and the tune had a powerful
Overall for me the arrangement did nothing new. The
performers’ skill sold the piece.
“ Dr. Jit” – Amrit Samaroo
There was a unison start and the tempo was well defined.
The original verse and chorus was true to the original.
Good use of dynamics…more so than other bands had done so
I heard all of the pieces Armit quoted from his father like
Somebody, Guitar Pan, Pan in A minor, Bee Melody, Iron Man
etc and I stopped writing them down. It was a test (in a
sense a mosaic) of tunes from the past.
At times I felt that the pieces were not cohesive in their
connections in and out of each other.
Amrit has the signature sound of his father. It is in his
He used a lot of running lines (like a run on sentence), and
his arrangement was connected more horizontally as compared
with the vertical percussiveness used by other arrangers.
The recapitulation was brief and the conclusion was strong.
He is a good composer, arranger and pannists. We have many
more years of hearing from him. He is slowly becoming the
Dr. Amrit of pan…mark my words. Give him a chance.
“ I’m Not Drunk” - Carlton “Zanda” Alexander
The intro was off on it’s own, no themes I could detect from
the original verse and chorus (through-composed).
The first noticeable difference was the original chorus was
stated in the cellos.
This was a brave tune to select in that there is not much
melody or harmonic elements to work from.
The arranger was aiming to please the crowd with a tune
The use of jazz elements was prominent in this arrangement.
The arranger used mostly the hook of the chorus as the basis
for his development.
It was hard to detect the verse but it must have been
cleverly hidden somewhere. That means there was a balance
problem on stage.
The hook of the bass line was used as an ostinato.
The tenor line was simple and the chords were beautifully
reharmonized to keep our interest.
Most of time we hear chromatic scales up to another key, the
arranger chose the opposite and played a chromatic scale
down to the modulation.
The drummer had some good fills but the hi hat was not
always clean sounding.
The arrangement was full of motivic development on the
chorus. He gets an A+ for that. The reharmonization was
pitted through the entire arrangement. Well done.
PHASE II PAN GROOVE
– Len “Boogsie” Sharpe
There was a solid count into the intro; it was not as long
as previous years.
There was singing done in this arrangement to add to the
The verse and chorus were clearly stated.
Boogsie is keen at harmonization. I believe I detected some
harmonies above the melody.
The background instruments were clearly heard even though
several basses were probably pulled off stage because the
band had to been thinned down to the 100-person count.
The arrangement had some very complicated layering and
There were lots of parts in the music, which to me sounded
like a conversation between the backgrounds and frontline
The motivic development was exciting and different sections
of the band were featured equally.
The signature of Boogsie was heard in the polyphonic
passages that utilized the shifted accent/pulse into a
There was a very long stop that unfortunately had to be
controlled by a hi hat click.
The Magic Drum is a piece of music that will probably
survive the test of time.
There was a Classical ending.
here for more Dr. Remy
|Dr. Jeannine Remy
Department for Creative and Festival Arts
University of the West Indies (UWI)
Gordon Street, St Augustine
1 (868) 645-0873 (Direct Line)
1 (868) 663-2141 (Fax)
Dr. Jeannine Remy lectures music in the Department for
Creative and Festival Arts at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in
Trinidad. She currently teaches
courses in percussion, steelpan (arranging, history, literature), world music,
and music of the Caribbean. Dr.
Remy first visited Trinidad in 1989 as part of her doctoral research at the
University of Arizona. She
subsequently received numerous faculty research grants, including a Fulbright
in 2000-2001, to research and archive Trinidadian steelpan music. Moving to Trinidad in 2003, Dr. Remy
became the first foreign female arranger for large conventional steelbands
competing in panorama and music festivals. She continues to be an active
composer, arranger, adjudicator and musical commentator in cultural music. Remy recently took a 70-membered
contingency (Golden Hands Steel Orchestra and the UWI Percussion Ensemble) to
PASIC in Austin, TX in 2008 to perform a production entitled The
Rainmakers: A Tropical Journey in
Percussion and Steel. Dr. Remy
composed the music and Franka Hills-Headley, founder of the Golden Hands Steel
Orchestra, wrote the script. www.tobago.org/trinidad/pan/rainmakers/