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Trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa | Trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa

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Trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa

by Trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa

Originating in India, tassa drumming first came to the Caribbean with Indian indentured laborers in the 1840s. Each track arranged by director Lenny Kumar features a hand, or composite rhythm, typically played for procession or dancing at Hindu weddings.
Genre: World: Caribbean
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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Tikora
1:32 $0.99
clip
2. Nagara
4:32 $0.99
clip
3. Dingolay
3:18 $0.99
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4. Calypso
3:52 $0.99
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5. Chutney
2:52 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Founded by tassa virtuoso Lenny Kumar in 2004, Trinidad and Tobago Sweet Tassa is dedicated to performing, promoting, and educating about Indo-Caribbean tassa drumming. Originating in India, tassa first came to the Caribbean with Indian indentured laborers who were recruited to work on sugar plantations after the abolition of slavery. Today, Indian culture and tassa along with it are an integral part of the culture and soundscape of Trinidad and Tobago. One of the most recognized tassa bands in Trinidad & Tobago, T&T Sweet Tassa have won numerous national drumming competitions and members have played to delighted audiences abroad in Guyana, Antigua, England, India, and across the United States. A truly international organization, T&T Sweet Tassa International comprises four bands: the Senior Band, Junior Band, and All-Girls Band in Trinidad and a widely-lauded branch based in the Tampa/Orlando region of central Florida. All bands regularly perform for weddings and other Hindu religious functions as well as for parties, celebrations, and cultural events of all types. Recent accomplishments include workshops given at the 2013 Society for Ethnomusicology Meeting and the 2013 Percussive Arts Society International Convention and a four-day residency for students of the Northern Illinois University School of Music.

For booking, contact us by email at sweettassa4u@gmail.com or by phone: in Trinidad, (868) 774-7445 and in the United States, (813) 966-3851 or (407) 285-5002.

The term “tassa” refers to both an ensemble of instruments and the small kettledrum that plays a leading role in this ensemble. The tassa ensemble, therefore, consists of three instrument types playing four distinct parts. The “cutter” is the lead tassa drum that signals the band to start, stop, or change to a different section of the music using specific rhythmic patterns called taals. The cutter also improvises using virtuosic buzz rolls and complex rhythmic patterns drawn both from Indian and Caribbean musical sources. The “foulé” is the supporting tassa drum that plays a constant ostinato. The “bass” (or dhol) is a two-headed drum played with a stick on the lower-pitched head and an empty hand on the higher-pitched head. The bass player can use both open and closed strokes to create semi-melodic basslines. The “jhal” is a set of small, but heavy brass hand cymbals. The jhal usually emphasizes the upbeat with a sizzle technique.

The foulé, bass, and jhal work together to create a solid groove upon which the cutter can improvise “cuts” using standardized rhythmic passages or newly created material that fits the style of the music. In tassa parlance, a “hand” is a distinct composite rhythm produced by this musical structure. The following pages contain transcriptions of typical tassa hands played for processions and dancing at Hindu weddings, secular parties, and a variety of other occasions in Trinidad and Tobago.

All tracks on this album are commonly played for Hindu weddings or any celebratory occasion. Tikora is a classical hand often played as an introduction at the beginning of a suite of hands. Nagara is drawn from repertoire typical of the Indian nagara drum pair. While nagara drums are rarely played in Trinidad today, their sound lives on in this lively dancing hand. Dingolay is another hand for dancing with rhythms closely related to those played on the small double-headed drum dholak. Calypso hand features rhythms that closely approximate steel band rhythms as played in a classic, road march style. And chutney, a hand composed by Lenny Kumar, is derived from chutney-style dholak playing.

The music for this album was recorded live in stereo by Christopher L. Ballengee in Santa Flora, Trinidad in August 2012.

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