Panorama is an annual steelpan competition held leading up to and during the Trinidad Carnival.
It is a countrywide competition that began 22 February 1963 and takes place in various venues (zones) over a two week period. The final takes place on the Saturday before Dimanche Gras at the Queen's Park Savannah.
Dimanche Gras is French for Great Sunday which is the carnival Sunday night when the calypso competition is held to select the King and Queen of the bands.
The competition represents the pinnacle of steelpan musicianship.
Panorama music is typically an extended arrangement of a particular calypso, of that current year, played by a steel orchestra. The calypso consists of a verse and chorus lasting about one and a half minutes. The arrangement lasts for no more than ten minutes and is composed to entertain and ultimately win the competition.
Before all this can happen, composers of calypso set about the task of writing songs for Carnival. This begins directly after one Carnival ends. The lyrics are based on current events which may be both political and social. The calypsos are then played constantly on local radio stations.
A calypso is chosen by the arranger and the arrangement is based on the number of instruments and players (between 50 and 100) in the orchestra. The arranger teaches the music by rote to the best players in each section, known as section leaders. They in turn teach the other players in each section. This process is incredibly rigorous, as each player must play his or her part meticulously.
Practice sessions are daily or nightly and can last for many hours. This process can take up to eight weeks to complete.
A typical arrangement will consist of:
- The introduction
- The verse or statement of melody
- The chorus
- Variations of the verse and chorus
- The ending
The challenging part for the arranger is to include harmonic and melodic developments, changes of key and rhythm, improvisations and an exhilarating climax.
The UK Panorama started in 1978 and is held leading up to and during the Notting Hill carnival.