Fast or Too Slow? An
and historical perspective
By Collins Jackman
response to a comment made by a guest at this website about tempo, saying
that the trend of today sanctions steelbands to play at a fast tempo, I
think that playing a piece of music at a fast pace does an injustice to
it. I think the aim of all bands should be to perform their
arrangements at a tempo that allows them to be heard with clarity and
permits the players to be comfortable executing them with precision.
Determining the right tempo depends on the nature of arrangement and the
level of musicianship of the players.
however, bands are able to perform at racing speed and still maintain
clarity, then that is fine. But the objective should always be to
play so that the nuances of the music can be heard and understood.
Remember, panorama is a musical competition. The jolly nature of the
competition should not obscure that fact.
point I would like to take this opportunity to mention in passing is that
the social, political and economic struggle of the Steelpan
movement must be more readily discussed and made known, not only to the
outside world but to those who are intimately involved in the movement and
especially to our progeny. During the colonial period of Trinidad, pan
music or the musical expression of those who were a part of it, was an
articulation of their opposition to the political, social and economic
oppression to which they were subjected.
musical creativity and the tonal and other technical innovations that have
led to present form of the steelband family of instruments, were their weapons to vindicate their
self-respect as human beings and as a people, and challenged the realities
of imperialist and racist means of the power structure in Trinidad.
are the things that we must celebrate about the pan movement. But we
have been so immersed with dealing with the superficial aspects of pan,
such as panorama and its part in the general carnival tradition, which
involves having a good time, that this important dimension of the pan
movement has been overlooked or hardly mentioned. Having a good time
is not a bad thing, but I think we need to know the purpose or the reason
for having a good time. The history of pan has to be told in such a
way that it illuminates the social, political and economic circumstances
under which it came about and evolved. It should not be treated as
an esoteric issue, or as only suitable for an academic situation. We
have to somehow make it a
part of our present struggle because the past and the present are integral
links to how our future will turn out.
if we are seeking to have pan to be turned into an area of study for the
school system or in any situation of learning, an in-depth analysis of the
history of pan, in conjunction with the effects of societal forces and
institutions on the development of the pan movement, must be pivotal in
such a program.
the end of it, pan is only the passive element; it is the people who have
given and continue to give life to the instrument. No comment.