Exploring The Annual Rite Of Chaos

A Critique Of Panaroma Judges’ Score Sheets


Here is what the current score sheet looks like.

Panorama judges are responsible for determining who earns bragging rights for the flagship steelband competition in the world. However, year after year, controversy swirls around the results of the competition.  While much of the controversy is limited to Panorama finals, the semis in February 2009 brought an unprecedented level of negative reaction from the public as well as from within the pan community.
Prior to the semis, a colleague of mine living in New York and I discussed, among other things, some of the arrangers who had moved up to the large band category. During the internet broadcast of the semis, we chatted on the phone and found we shared a common perspective on who were the top two bands on that night.  While the South and Tobago legs of the competition were yet to be completed before the actual release of scores, we felt confident that our choices were pretty safe. 
Well, our confidence proved to be misplaced when Petrotrin Phase II emerged with the highest score at the semis.  I have been tagged as a Phase II man-rightly or wrongly-but I just did not believe that “Boogsie” was at the top of his game on that day. A report in the Trinidad Express on February 12, 2009, suggests that even “Boogsie” may have been surprised.  In it, he is quoted as saying: “I have a good feeling, I am happy to be the leader, but it is back to the drawing board. Boogsie is finished only when the race is done. Final night is always a different story.”
I made a couple of calls to Trinidad before the scores were released and was told that the consensus was that Silver Stars and Desperadoes were the top two bands, and when I read the reaction to the scores in one of the dailies-especially the Newsday on February 12, 2009-it was clear that my previous concerns about the process of judging Panorama had reared its ugly head again.  In the past, I have complained vociferously about the lack of training on the part of the judges and their level of competency, and the exercise that I am about to undertake-at the urging of a number of arrangers, pannists and a past executive member of Pan Trinbago-will demonstrate my concerns.
While I was principally involved with developing the structure of the present criteria in 1992, the descriptions and point system currently used is a result of the Executive of Pan Trinbago asking somebody in Trinidad-whom they would only identify as a “high music person”-to tweak the original text and point system that was approved by pannists and arrangers back in 1992.  This is critical because the judges seem not to understand how, what and why they are marking a band.   My point will become manifest as I discuss some of the score sheets from the semis in February.

Before going any further, let me publicly thank all the arrangers and managers who gave me their semi-final score sheets that I will be analyzing as a major part of this commentary.  I will neither name the bands whose score sheets I received nor will I identify the judges whose scores I will be analyzing.  What I will do is print-for the purpose of this article-some of the judges’ score sheets, analyze them based on the criteria, and draw some conclusions about the individual’s performance so you can get a sense of how the most prestigious steelband competition in the world is assessed.

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