I have a very difficult time trying to describe the thrill of Trinidad's Panorama Steel-Band Finals, with it's 100+ player orchestras, pounding music that catches and moves you, the tradition of pushing the bands to stage as they practice and, of course, the pulsing crowds.
I had no idea what it was all about until I went to my first finals back in 1997 and watched Lord Kitchener's "Guitar Pan" being played by Amoco Renegades. I was bitten.
Here is a quick idea of what happens -- and this is coming from someone who missed Carnival this year and last, to my chagrin.
First, the original tune is played, and it's usually a popular tune. Everyone starts to get into the song, as it's played a few times in succession, giving enough time for the new band to be pushed onto the stage. By the time the music is paused, the crowd is hyped, especially those who are supporters o f the band.
Once the band if sully assembled there is a quiet hush as they wait to start before launching into 9-10 minutes of pan music that unfortunately, cannot be faithfully reproduced in any recording... it is music that must be heard live to be appreciated, as much of it is literally felt in the body...
But, here is an idea of what it's like, using a classic -- Lord Kitchener's "Pan in A minor."
The first clip is of the great man himself performing the song with a live band (it's too bad that it's a little short.) The second clip is the 9.5 minute Panorama version of the same, played by Renegades . It's not, as some may assume, a facsimile, but demonstrates multiple variations on the theme provided by the song.
Here is Lord Kitchener:
Here is the Renegades version. Stay with it through the end, as the real innovations are preserved for the last third of the song.