On the subject of “pan tunes”

On the subject of “pan tunes”, one should be aware of some cultural history.
In the days when steelbands were on the streets and determined the road march, most calypsonians composed pan friendly calypsos – “pan tunes” – to vie for the road march prize.

The modern (post World War II ) calypso era came of age as the steelband developed, and there was almost a symbiotic relationship between the two art-forms. since these calypsos had a distinct phrasing and style, specifically suited for the pan.
As the steelbands changed their focus to the panorama stage, the DJs took over on the streets ,and local composers started composing more DJ oriented tunes -modern soca – concentrating more on rhythm , and less on the sort of musical phrasing and flow that made calypsos appealing to steelbands.
Hence the creation of “pan tunes”  specifically oriented towards the panorama, but with limited appeal to the carnival party crowds.
This is just another result of steelbands choosing to place their entire focus on the panorama stage, and stepping sway from the streets and the road march competition.
This has had a tremendous impact on the local music , its direction and culture , which few of us seem to have recognized.

Another example of the unforeseen impact that our single minded focus on panorama at carnival has had on our music and culture.

From the 1962 RCA album. “Chip n’ Jump Carnival”, here is a taste of steelbands on the road on Carnival day, 1960. The steelband parade features North Stars Steel Orchestra playing Sparrow’s “May May”, Savoys Steel Orchestra with Tito Puente’s “Cute Chick”, and Ebonites Steel Orchestra with an arrangement of Friedrich “Fritz” Kreisler’s “Liebesfreud”.

One thought on “On the subject of “pan tunes”

  1. This was when steel bands ruled the streets on Carnival and we chipped with grace to the slow laid back beat of the steel. Oh I miss those days, when there was a real road march that we could all sing along with. After all these years I can still sing Sparrow’s Jean and Dinah, which we all heard for the first time on carnival Sunday night 1956.
    Thanks for the memory. Keep the culture and music of TT alive.
    Kenty Noel


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