Bassy - Love Vine
July 1, 2011

Technique and theory need in pan

Ah made it to de Junior Pan Competition last Sunday; de crowd could be ah lot better, but nobody listens. Ah keep writing dah CDC should hold dat show during de school week, give de kids ah half holiday like dey do for de Junior Kaiso.

Congratulations to GHS foh winning de school’s division again. Ah week before competition, my daughter came home and said de Head-mistress, Andrea Bowman read de Riot Act to de members, ah think she panicked.{{more}}

Dat victory would add nicely to de school’s centennial celebrations dis year. Sadly though, de person (s) operating de sounds did ah terrible job, after so many years trying to mike-in up dem Pans, de technique continues to delude our technicians.

Quite frankly de Steel Bands would ah sound much better widout microphones. And de children continue to “beat de hell” out ah dem Pans like de way de older folks uses to beat de “Goat-skin drums”. Ah begging dem Pan instructors to take de kids back to de fun-dah-men-tells, Rule No 1, de Pan, when it is finally tuned, is an instrument dat is equally as sensitive and delicate as de Piano, and should be treated as such, use de wrist and not de elbow. And Rule No 2, do unto de notes as yuh would want someone do to your head; play softly!

Every Pan dat was used on Sunday evening, dat has to be used again foh de Senior Pan Champs on Thursday night, will have to be tuned all over again.

De two Junior Bands dat caught my attention were Phonics from Questelles, and Genesis from Largo Heights; wid ah few more members dey will be ah serious threat to de bigger bands.

De rivalry continues between Starlift and Euphonium from de two communities, Ole Montrose and Sion Hill respectively. Dis time around, Starlift Juniors took back de title. Dat rivalry goes back to de early days, in de 1950’s, ah think it was Crusaders from Sion Hill and Rising Star from Ole Montrose.

Dey was also serious rivalry along Middle Street wid three bands: Commandos from Long Wall; Melody Makers just below de Market Square; and Syncopaters, close to Anglican School. Back den de Bands were small, eight or so players and it was “Pan around de neck”. De Bands were judged on stage at Mardi Gras, bandsmen wore beautiful costumes and dey were judged for music and costume separately; each Band played two songs, ah classical tune and ah Kaiso.

So good to see Owen Ralph, my schoolmate still in de mas business, he was playing foh Crusaders since he was ah lickle youth man, ten years ole. Wow, is over sixty years Owen Ralph playing Mas, dat Guy deserves ah gratuity or ah pension from CDC.

Sion Hill Euphonium continues to show “spirit and energy”; no doubt inspired by leadership from young Rodney Small, now doing his studies in Music in Jamaica and who came in just in time to help put de finishing touches wid de band.

Rodney is very talented, ah must say de same foh his classmate Dixie Baptiste, also ah Panist. These two “skinny “ youngsters are doing SVG proud in Jamaica, recording, performing etc. Dey say success has ah thousand fathers, so ah don’t want to jump up and wave on Rodney’s bandwagon but, ah remember de first time ah saw dis lickle youthman doing so much on de Pan during Nine Mornings, ah challenged him to talk wid Joffre Venner about music lessons and becoming musical literate.

Foh years Rodney been promising me he will start end-ah-month. One day ah met his Mom and enquired of him, she said dat Rodney was doing well in Canada and now going to music lessons. Was not until he returned dat he told me dat while in Canada, he visited a Steel Band wid de possibility of becoming ah member and, he was presented wid ah sheet of music scores!!

It was den he saw de need foh theory. But before he had migrated, he had already won de heart of Min. of Culture Rein-hey Baptiste, she got both Rodney and Dixie organized to go study Music in Jamaica.

Ah say dis in passing foh de many youths who are in de “Pan against Crime” program, as well as Commissioner Me-Law.

Dey, de youths need to know dat widout training in music theory, dey can only go so far and no further; dey must become Musical Literate.

Assign ah senior member ah de Police Band to each of these junior Steelbands to teach music theory, and please pay de Officers ah lickle subsistence.

Guv-ah-mint could tek some ah dat money dey wasting pon half ah dem Party hacks pon Boards and use it more meaningfully.

Lie-Za say a former Vincent-shun Minister sits on nine Boards collecting close to thirty thousand dollars monthly.

Finally ah have been asked to announce de death of Mr Feud City who died at Sunrise trying to Burn-Addy and Vera. Left to mourn are several ailing relatives including two brothers Brag Star and Bar-Nannah, and two sisters Cass-Haffah, Hour Root.

Also ah wreck-we-um Mas will be held on Jouvert foh Ensy Bee who died of ah Master Stroke. Remember in your prayers Sister Kathy Scan now recovering.

And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

Behave sane, sober and cents-able foh Carnival.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.