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November 3, 2006


A controversy is brewing over the National Anthem which could end up in the law Courts.

It stems over the proposed publication of a version of the anthem by the Music Department of the Ministry of Education.

This new arrangement, by Patrick Prescod, was written for a choir and is built on the original 1969 piece written by Joel Miguel for piano.{{more}}

Miguel is annoyed and is threatening to sue the Music Officer, Junior Sutherland, and the publishing company if they go ahead with plans to attribute the composition as that of “Joel Miguel and Pat Prescod”.

In a letter dated October 18 to Sutherland and copied to Minister of Culture, Rene Baptiste, Miguel wrote: “here is my verdict: you must contact me immediately … and tell me that this publication will not happen, as it is incorrectly stated by you, vis a vis ‘Music by Joel Miguel and Pat Prescod’ … failure to do this, as asked above, will leave me with no alteration (sic) but to go to press with this letter and sue you and the publishers (your company I assume) for this serious error on your part”.

Miguel charged that the proposed join credit was tantamount to deception.

“For your information Mr Sutherland … Pat Prescod, sometime later, did an arrangement from it in four parts for a choir; utilizing every single note of the melody outline accompanied by the lower chords already there. You don’t have to be a genius, just musically trained in the theory of music to see this straight away, when one looks at the two sheets of music,” Miguel wrote.

However Sutherland disagreed and penned a nine-page letter in which he painstakingly analysed bar by bar of the two musical scores to argue his case.

In the original score, beats were missing from some bars and some notes were bracketed making it unclear as to what was intended while in one section the alto line was lower than the tenor line. In other areas the style and instruction to the performer differed.

Speaking with SEARCHLIGHT Sutherland said that “Prescod’s arrangement brought out more clearly” Miguel’s arrangement and brought a finesse and completeness through the use of alternate chord structures.

“At this point Mr Miguel, I hope you have grasped what I have explained in detail to you. The comparisons should have proven my point emphatically,” Sutherland wrote Miguel in an October 24 letter.

Sutherland also sent an audio CD containing the two versions of the national anthem and a third track in which both arrangements were played simultaneously to further reinforce his point that the two differed.

He added that he had no intention of breaching the copyright law and sought his opinion on the text for the credit. He proposed two: (1) “WORDS: Phyllis Joyce Punnett, MUSIC: Joel B. Miguel, Arrangement: Patrick E. Prescod” or (2) “WORDS: Phyllis Joyce Punnett, MUSIC: Joel B. Miguel and Patrick E. Prescod”.

Alternatively, Sutherland suggested that the Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste should move a motion that Prescod’s name be placed as ARRANGER on the official National Anthem.

When Patrick Prescod was contacted, he refused to comment on the matter.