Steelpan Keeping Up With MIDI Technology

post by Salmon Cupid

Arguably, MIDI Files are now as important as sheet music.

Don’t get me wrong — sheet music is still widely used, but many modern Steelpan arrangers/producers/composers just write songs directly from Logic X or Finale. If they own an instrument like an E-Pan (electronic steelpan) or can play a keyboard, the process of writing music becomes 100 times faster when using a software. Not to mention, in the same fashion people would look for sheet music to study a composer, you can now look for MIDI files and learn about your favorite Steelpan arranger/producer/composer.

Have you ever wondered how a Steelpan arranger can arrive one week before London, England Panorama competition, get his/her band ready and the next week be in New York arranging at the New York Panorama competition for another band? Well, it’s simple. Scored music is sent together with MIDI files way in advance so that the person interpreting the score can be as accurate as possible, by the time the arranger arrives it’s just to clean up loose ends.

The 2018 New York Panorama champion arranger, Odie Gonzales Franklin, who arranged for Despers USA, Kendall K. Williams, who arranged for CASYM and Marc Brooks, who arranged for ADLIB are all young arrangers who use this action plan to pass on their arrangements to their respective bands ESPECIALLY when arranging for a band overseas. These three young men as a trio arranged for Golden Harps in Brampton, Ontario Canada for the Toronto Panorama competition for two years running and have used this action plan.

They also arranged for Skiffle Bunch in Trinidad Panorama using this same plan. Duvone Stewart has been using this action plan as a blueprint for several years. He is the most decorated steelpan arranger of all time. In 2018 he made history as he became the 1st arranger to win two categories in Panorama in the same year. He has received 30 wins in Panorama locally, regionally and internationally combined. He sends his score sheet together with the MIDI files in advance of his arriving making the process seamless.

There are several other young Steelpan arrangers/producers/composers who use this action plan as well.

What we at NAPE, Inc. are proud to introduce is our development of the #1 Steelpan App GOLD which is a vehicle for both Steelpan arrangers/producers/composers and players/students alike. It bridges and converts the MIDI files into a digital steelpan platform so that every scored note appears and lights up in the correct position on the graphic representation of the instrument in the app. Studying how the artist arranged the chords, melody, drum grooves, and bass line, assuming it’s all included in the MIDI file, has never been easier. For that reason, MIDI files are really valuable as an educational resource. Unfortunately, not every song out there is available as a MIDI file. So, to help facilitate, we at NAPE, Inc. have developed two pages devoted to MIDI files. One page is for Steelpan arrangers/producers/composers to upload MIDI files. On this page, they can make the files public or private. Files that are marked private cannot be accessed by the public unless they have been given a password. This password can only be obtained from the person who uploaded the files.

The other page is a library where users can access these uploaded files and start learning instantly. Playing for Trinidad Panorama has never been easier. Players can request the MIDI files from their respective bands and they can either upload the files to the NAPE, Inc.’s MIDI page, marking it public or private. At which point players could now access the music through the #1 Steelpan App GOLD (or any app with MIDI CORE capabilities) making it easier to study their Panorama song prior to arriving in Trinidad.

The funny thing about the future, you don’t wake up one morning surrounded by electric cars and spaceships. The real future sneaks up on you. You find yourself playing an E-Pan (electric Steelpan). You have never heard the words “artificial intelligence” in a sentence with Steelpan. In fact, you’ve never heard it in the same sentence as any musical instrument before. As our name suggests, New Advanced Product Evolution. The #1 Steelpan App Gold and the E-Pan taking us to the future.

For more information on MIDI files check out Wikipedia.