Listening to those classic panorama tunes of yesteryear by Solo Harmonites , Desperadoes , All Stars and others set me thinking.
There have been significant changes in the style of panorama music and arrangements over the decades , and after some thought, I’ve drawn a couple conclusions
Feel free to agree or disagree.
My first point is the panorama itself.
Once the panorama became the primary focus of the steelbands, and for various reasons they withdrew from actively participating in the carnival parade, they stopped being a determining factor in the selection of the coveted title of Road March King ( or Queen)
This role by default fell to the DJs.
Traditionally , composers of calypsos and carnival music created music that would appeal to the steelbands, since they determined who won the Road March competition.
As I like to say , they made music ” with a pan in dey head”.
This became no longer necessary , and composers , especially the younger ones , attuned their compositions for DJ play to catch the ear of the party-goer , not necessarily the steelband arranger.
This had an effect on the type of music produced at carnival time , i.e. modern soca music.
At first . pan people resisted the changes , creating their own music , the so called pan tunes , but these tunes , while technically sound , had little appeal to the general public , resulting in limited airplay and lessening the attraction of panorama music to general audiences.
So now , we have steelbands trying to appease the changing musical tastes of the public by adopting modern soca tunes for panorama , with talented arrangers skillfully attempting to overcome the limitations of the music by added frills , bells and whistles,creating a distinctive change in the style of panorama arrangements.
My other point is the carnival parade.
In the old days , panorama was secondary to the steelband’s presence on the road, and arrangers were acutely aware that the panorama tune was expected to be played repetitively on the road by players walking for hours , sometimes on uneven pavement, behind their pans.
So, maybe even unconsciously by the arranger, the panorama arrangement was of necessity a bit of a compromise.
That obviously , is not the case today.
Arguably, these two factors make it impossible to compare arrangers of different eras , or to rate arrangers by today’s standards.
A case in point.
Though not a panorama tune , Beverley Griffith’s 1966 arrangement of “Flight of the Bumble Bee” is obviously modified.
I am convinced that this was done not necessarily because of a lack of skilled players , but for the convenience of making it easier to be played repetitively on the road as a “Bomb” tune.
Still a sweet arrangement , though 🙂 .