In a time of widespread fear and anxiety because of the current and future uncertainties, arranger Dante Pantin, who leads the MHTL Starlift Steel Orchestra, has created what he calls a “quilted” video, to share it as a beacon of hope.
Pantin describes it as “quilted” because he had the idea of having each band member independently record him- or herself playing a song, and he would then stitch them all together.
Of the 35 band members, 15 were involved in the project.
The song he chose was Heal the World, released in 1991 by Michael Jackson.
Pantin said the song was selected long before the covid19 pandemic for the band’s album, for which he had begun planning production.
“It would have been ideal to do the video in a more high-quality way.
“However, when all this is over, I see us recording it in a studio with proper mics and cameras. Given the circumstances, we could have only done it this way.”
Before the stay-at-home measures were announced, most band members were given the option of taking their pans home from the panyard on Mucurapo Road so they could practise by themselves.
Pantin sent the song and notes to each member of the band, and they learned it in three days. He explained how he ensured they all played at the same tempo even though they were all playing solo.
“I did a track of the tempo of the song. The song was originally recorded in 81 beats per minute. While playing along to that tempo, they had another device recording only the audio and another doing video.”
After learning the notes and playing at the pace of the recording, each member used a smartphone to record video of themselves playing, which they submitted to Pantin.
“I knew nothing about video editing,” Pantin confessed, “but I was willing to learn. I went online and found an app, which he took a week to learn…When the band submitted all the video and audio footage to me, I was prepared to put it all together in one product.”
Compiling the video included syncing all the audio, then merging it with the edited video content took over ten hours. After completing the video, Pantin shared it with the members of the band via WhatsApp, which they then shared on their personal Facebook and Instagram profiles. It was also shared on the band’s Facebook page and Proman’s website. “From those platforms, it started to spread,” Pantin said.
Band captain Maruis Caballero said it’s a labour of love.
“When Pantin told us his idea we were happy to give something to the nation during this time of crisis.”
He hopes it will help give people who see the video some hope and peace.
“We feel great. We feel like this is what we are supposed to be doing at this time. The band is happy to share our music as a form of encouragement. We encourage everyone to stay inside and maintain good sanitisation practices. We will come out of this a stronger people.”
Fazad Mohammed, head of corporate communication at Proman TT, said, “Proman is proud to support the MHTL Starlift Steel Orchestra and its rich legacy in developing the indigenous cultural art forms of TT.”
Proman TT, based in Point Lisas, is an international petrochemical and energy company. This is its fifth year as the band’s sponsor.
Pantin said he looks forward to producing more content of this kind. He hopes to begin work on the band’s first album as soon as there is some normality and the members can gather in person again.
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