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EVERYTHING BUT . . .: You be the judge!


Ridley Greene

EVERYTHING BUT . . .: You be the judge!

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THIS?COMING WEEKEND?there will be much pretence at evaluation and critical judgement of our calypso and its exponents – in particular of those who fall away in the Pic-O-De-Crop Semi-Finals and equally of those who march onward to the Finals.
Many a pseudo-critic in the Press, on the air or by telephone will wade solidly in the bogs of ignorance, misrepresenting musicality, lyric, interpretation and mood of the songs chosen. Fanatical support will almost certainly be the order of the day.
Supporters, much like their fallen calypsonians, will be disappointed with the decision of the judges.
Their unpremeditated rage will punctuate the air until Kadooment Day or the day after, whose demarcation of the season of musical folly we might be grateful for.
We all have every right to be of different view from the judges, but little choice than to accept the finality of their decisions. The badgering of our calypso determiners will do no good to them, and much less to us.
This does not presuppose, of course, that all is well with the calypso judging system we have inherited; certainly it is not spotless. Better could come along.
Others would say must.
Until then we can only demand openness, transparency, due diligence, fairness, accuracy and integrity, qualities I am sure now exist among our judges and in the system under which they make their determination, and which we would all do well to affirm each year.
This being said, however, judges are neither mechanical machines nor automatons. They possess senses and feelings like the rest of us, and are subject to having individual formulae for assessing performers or performances before them, even given, and abiding by, the criteria for judging provided them.
Unfortunate circumstance
It is faithfulness to this individualistic and private formula that could unwittingly preclude from the intellectual stimulus of a judge an approach from a performer that is different – nigh unique – yet lyrically and musically compatible and pleasing.
The offshoot of this unfortunate circumstance is the stymying of that which might refresh the calypso competition. And if new approaches, albeit with their adherence to appealing composition, theme and lyrics, are explored but ignored, their architects may quickly succumb to the notion of formulae.
Seeking to be noticed in the world of calypso by hanging onto someone else’s successful formula may do more for the style than for the imitator. Formulae are better executed by their originators.
So, how do we possibly make better a good calypso judging system? We might begin with retiring the present crop of judges.
Not that this should be taken as any negative reflection on their ability; but for the sake of not derailing creativity and progressiveness in calypso, we need to bring a fresh perspective and have a renewed interest in what is not the usual – even conforming to accepted musical practice.
Could have become tired
Truth be told, over the years a few of our calypso judges could have become tired, naturally burdened by a myriad of responsibilities. There can be no other explanation for a judge allegedly nodding during an artiste’s performance.
But then, the performer’s calypso might have been so drawn out a seven minutes, and profoundly abstract, that sleep might have been a survivalist option for the soul.
And then who is to say that because one’s eyes are closed during the performance of a song that one is asleep? I have had my most enjoyable ingestion of words,
notes and rhythm with eyes fixedly closed. In the darkness of my mind I have seen the artiste riding the rhythm.
Oh, but I am not a judge; I have greater liberty.
The point is things are not always what they seem. I once thought a guy was singing; he was not. I had assumed he was a calypsonian; he definitely was not! I took it he liked calypso; he didn’t.
If you listen to radio, you will know what I mean. You be the judge!
• Ridley Greene is a Caribbean multi-award-winning journalist.

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