De Challenge Is Minor

Music by Mark Loquan
Lyrics by Christophe Grant
Arranged by Jason Dasent
Pan by Duvone Stewart
Sung by Denyse Plummer
© COTT 2004 All Rights Reserved
Published by MLQ Music Ltd., email: mlqpan(at)
Released 2004 on Alvin Daniell's 2004 Calypso Compilation D De Panman's Choide and on Denyse Plummer's 2004 CD Caribbean Woman


"Deep in we soul, losing control, every phrase is so haunting."

There has been a limited number of songs done in minor key for the Panorama, the most notable being Kitchener’s Pan in A Minor. Probably not surprising, when the minor key is generally associated with emotions of sadness and melancholy, unlike the Panorama and Carnival, that
conjures up feelings of celebration and having a good time.

It is quite typical to hear arrangers doing a song in a major key, to go into a section arranged in minor mode for variation, before going back to the major key. I thought it would be a change to put out a challenge to the pan arrangers, some of whom claim that to do an arrangement of a song in minor key takes tremendous skill, and that the challenge is a major one, hence the play on words in the title.

This was the second year working with Christophe Grant, who wrote the lyrics, and the 4th consecutive year with Denyse Plummer. It was a good chance to work with Jason Dasent once more, who by that time had a much bigger studio with updated equipment and a very spacious voice booth. Perfect pitch Duvone Stewart, leader and arranger for CFS Pantasy, played the pan solo at the end of the track.

The interesting story on this song, is that it did not do so well for Panorama (perhaps there were much better songs to choose from, and/or the challenge was indeed major ??).  However the song was arranged for bpTT Youth Steel Orchestra by one of Trinidad’s talented young arrangers, Amrit Samaroo, and scored by Kareem Brown for the Pan in Education CD. This advanced arrangement was played by the University of Arizona for the PASIC Convention 2006, and also by West Valley High School Steelband in Fairbanks (.pdf), for the Alaska Solo and Ensemble Music festival 2007.

The music would spread with the documented scores in Pan in Education CD, which was one of the primary objectives, i.e. to share the music with the world.
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Yes my pan is versatile,
Treasured by adult and child,
Sweet steel - like a drug to an addict,
De world is hooked on my steelband music;
Everytime dat I hearit,
I keep falling in its spell
Deep in a trance, feeling to dance,
Like some jumbie voodoo magic,
Deep in a trance, feeling to dance,
Now its wonders I must tell...

Steelband does cover,
Yes from major to minor,
Panman so super - could play anything,
From salsa to samba,
(ah tell yuh anything),
From soca to raga
(ah tell yuh anything);
But some say de steelband dey (brakesing),
Only major songs now dey (playing),
'Til some chanting with glee
How we fraid minor key,
Padam, Padam! - De challenge is minor (repeat)
'Cause pan playing anything.

Suddenly they made a switch,
Challenged by Grandmaster Kitch
They played - Symphony in A Minor,
Showing the range of my steel band music;
But then just like a turtle
They soon crawled back in their shell;
Hiding their skill, in every drill,
Only tackling major,
Hiding their skill, in every drill,
Now this myth we will dispel...


See we sail... major to minor,
Up de scale - nice and free,
See we sail... bass up to tenor,
Without fail - harmony;
Proving to all at any cost,
Just like ooman, panman is boss,
Heat in de place, free up yuh waist,
Pan playing anything.

Panmen now to make de grade,
Minor key you cannot fraid,
No threat, ever seem like a hurdle,
Is plain suck-eye for my steelband music;
Everytime dat we hear it,
With national pride we should swell;
Deep in we soul, losing control,
Every phrase is so haunting,
Deep in we soul, losing control,
All this talent we must sell...


Pan Solo