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New York Steelband Panorama 2007

Global Steelpan News

The anatomy of "appearance" picking...

You sure don't want to pick position one

When Steel Talks an

NY Order of Appearance 2007

Position Band

New York - As most steelband music panorama veterans know, where you play is almost as important, as what you play on panorama night.  Indeed, appearance/play position can have a profound effect on one's fortune that night, and ultimately, what your entire season had been geared toward, the reason of 'being.'

Panorama steel orchestras are made up of very superstitious people.  They will send a representative to pick on their behalf who they believe will bring good fortune to the band by picking an appearance position that is 'late' in the show/competition.  Often young members of the bands are chosen.

The hated and feared play/competing position of number 'one' - is to be avoided at all cost.  It - position one - is loaded with all sort of 'ills' from the panman's perspective, and experience.  It is affectionately, or should I say, sarcastically known as the "sound check" position.  It is the position where the engineer gets to play around and create sonic madness with that poor band's performance - while being adjudicated.  And if that wasn't bad enough, it is the position where there will be least fan support, because they are late arriving, or they have strategically decided to wait until there is a cluster of "big bands" performing.  Remember, the steelband panorama is a marathon event.  In New York twelve bands or more is the norm.

While it is not impossible, it is extremely rare that a band has won the competition from that position.  To win from that position means that a band so impresses the judges - even through the engineer's 'sound check' - oops, 'sound' system - that none of the remaining bands can match this first band in the minds of those judges.  And all of this is taking place over a five to six hour period on a good night.  It is for this reason that almost all the bands want to play as late as possible, so that they may be the one to have a lasting and fresh impression on the judges.

If you are a medium-size band, you do not really want to be playing between or right after one of the large bands.  You may lose out to the audience and judges, because of the difference in the weight of the sound which can have a profound effect on the live listening audience.  And if you are a large band you do not want to be sandwiched between too many smaller bands - you might get forgotten in the pack.

All in all, if you are really good technically and musically, play/competition position should not matter - but we are dealing with humans and in a steelband music panorama competition, the intangibles always matter.

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