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Steelpan Music Composer and Panorama Arranger Amrit Samaroo is doing just “PHIne”

PanOnTheNet logoGlobal - Amrit Samaroo was born and raised into a musical family being the son of renowned arranger, Jit Samaroo. He started playing steelpan at the age of six with Samaroo Youth Steel Orchestra which existed for approximately two years. During Amrit’s formative years as a musician, he won first place at San Fest and the School’s Music Festival in 1992 and 1999 respectively. In addition to having been raised in a musical family, Amrit has received formal musical training, having completed an Associate Degree in Performing Arts from COSTAATT (The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago), and a Bachelor of Arts in Musical Arts from the University of the West Indies.

Although Amrit enjoyed success as a solo musician in his early days, his passion is arranging. He believes his dad inspired him to be an arranger, and arranging allows him to express himself more freely through a band. For Trinidad and Tobago Panorama 2011, Amrit had a full quota of steel orchestras for which he arranged. The bands are Trinidad Nostalgic (single pan), Nutones (small), Melodians (medium) and Our Boys (large). He arranged two of his original compositions for 2011, Showdown and T.K.O. for Melodians and Our Boys respectively. He was very excited by the prospect of arranging for these bands - until Boxing Day 2010 when a calamity, which could only be described as a freak accident, occurred. The resulting X-ray revealed that he had sustained a broken fibula. Amrit immediately knew that his Panorama season was not going to be how he wanted it to be. The management of all the bands were contacted and informed of his misfortune. They were all sympathetic but insisted that the arrangement still had to be done by him - one way or another.

Amrit recalled a conversation he had with, Natasha Joseph, a fellow panist, about how the Percussive Harmonic Instrument (PHI) could greatly assist the panist in the scoring and recording of music. He then pursued acquiring a PHI to use for the panorama season, since he knew it would greatly reduce the amount of time it would take to produce an arrangement for a band using a keyboard or entering directly into the scoring software.

The use of MIDI technology and the familiar interface allowed him to score and arrange his music twice as fast as he would have done before. He also states that, “the PHI has allowed him to feel what the players in the yard are playing”. Amrit believes that “motion is everything” for the panist, particularly body positioning and hand movements. He used the PHI to facilitate his note strikes, using his natural playing style, to record and score music on the computer through software such as Finale which he is using. The PHI, similarly to any other MIDI instrument communicates with scoring software that runs on any computer platform. This mode of arranging and composition is commonplace with digital keyboardists and, through the use of the PHI, is now available to all panists.

Amrit had no problem in adjusting to the PHI as its 36 notes are laid out in the ‘circle of 4ths and 5ths’ used on most tenor pans. This standardized note layout along with the ergonomic design of the PHI enable panists, such as Amrit Samaroo, to make an effortless transition to the instrument. In addition, it allowed him to relay the score sheets and audio tracks he produced to the bands in a much shorter space of time. He is thankful for the PHI and sees himself using it to score for the National Steel Symphony Orchestra and other international steel bands after the Trinidad Carnival season.

Amrit Samaroo sees the PHI as being a necessary addition to the panist’s “tool chest” - especially since there are a growing number who own studios and read music. Having a tool such as the PHI has always been a dream for him and being able to use it as he dreamt was a “surreal moment”. Amrit states that he is doing “just PHIne” and the PHI has significantly decreased the time he takes to do an arrangement with a more realistic feel.  

Courtesy P.H.I. News

Amrit Samaroo is doing just "PHIne"
Amrit Samaroo on the PHI




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