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Steelband Panorama 2011

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2011 panorama tunes lead sheets
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The Philosophy of a Tune for Panorama

What is a pan tune?

by Khuent Rose

This is definitely an interesting areas of musical philosophy to consider. I think that the particular notion of what is expected on pan is the real concern. Like any serious philosophical discussion one has to consider what are the valid starting points. When Steel Talks (WST) has named them all, whether being songs written for the main voice to be a steelpan (instrument), written by a steelpan composer (i.e. Boogsie, Holman), written lyrics concerning the instrument itself (Philmore's "Calling Meh"), or songs envisioned to be on pan specifically (Discount)... I believe that they are all valid and all permissible. 

The problem that we will face is that calling anything a "pan tune", more specifically narrowing the scope of a musical composition to fit the mores of a cultural habit. Trinidadian-social thinking will inherently propose certain things are more valid for the instrument than others, because of the close nature of the music that historically been translated to the instrument.

I, for one, totally disagree with that notion. Clive Bradley also strongly disagreed with that notion and deliberately used unlikely base material (Looking for Horn, Darlin’, High Mas, Celebrate, etc.) to shatter that notion of impropriety. Zanda also took up that mantle with "I'm not drunk". I'll be the first to admit that not all of their attempts were successful in the scope of competition but revolutionaries are often the ones in the bottom of the pile (for a while). 

When Boogsie, Philmore, Holman and Quarless were introducing, jazz, funk, pop there was a question as to how valid those elements were in a "typical panorama". Their first few attempts were enough to rebuff the musical ear of the audience as well as the judges.

I have a particular disdain for the "pan tune" title because of it's ambiguous nature. After-all, violin and piano music isn't performed by singers and then later translated to the instrument. But that opens the floor to the idea that "pan tunes" will eventually take a direction of not being sung at all. After all pan can play anything it just has a habit of choosing not to. lol


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