Many of us may not realize the critical nature of accurate sound reproduction, to the understanding and appreciation of orchestral music,for example Panorama music, when played by the steelband.
This is even more applicable to people relatively unfamiliar with the steelband, it’s culture, its makeup, and the different tonal qualities among the pans.
With any complex musical arrangement on the pan, it is sometimes difficult, even for people immersed in the culture , to distinguish between the different instruments ; unlike the conventional orchestra where parts played by different sections – strings , brass , reed and keyboard – are clearly defined and easily recognized.
This is one of the reasons I see the steelband as an audio- visual musical medium that has to be seen AND heard to be fully appreciated, whereby one can then follow the musical interplay between the different sections by sight as well as sound.
This is also one of the unique attributes of the steelband , and our best option for promoting the culture and art-form would be to create an environment with the necessary facilities that can support an increased influx of visitors to enjoy the steelband at its best in the land of its creation.
My recent visit to the panyards of T&T, and to the Panorama Finals only confirmed what I’ve always known.
That there’s no experience quite like being up close and personal with the big steelbands of T&T where you can feel the vibrations of the pan, and enjoy the sweetness and complexity of the musical arrangements.
Fortunately today’s access to multimedia can give us a decent alternative for simulating that experience, but our audio visual productions must be of the highest quality if we’re to make a mark outside of the “steelpan bubble”.
An audio recording of a complex arrangement by a full steelband is almost impossible for someone to fully appreciate if they cannot distinguish between the sound of a tenor pan and a double second.
To them that nuance is lost.
Going forward, we need to display steelband music to the world in its best possible light , and that means multimedia productions (videos)of the highest quality, with particular attention to reproducing the sound of the entire range of pans.
To those who think that today we can have some kind of audio musical revolution that takes the steelband to higher heights, I wish that were the case.
However, I’m inclined to disagree.
A steelband performance, especially at Panorama must be seen and heard.
On a positive note, this year 2020, I’ve noticed a vast improvement in the quality of panorama videos available online . Indeed, the quality is such that one can almost recreate the panorama experience with a large screen TV and surround sound.
However, having attended this year’s Panorama Finals, I can assure you that there’s nothing quite like being there 😀.