Friday, February 10, 2006

Side by Side We Stand - Tassa and Soca

Prayers and offering to Ali Asghar at the Hosay observations in St. James, Trinidad, West Indies, 2006

Where in any country would you observe a religious rite side by side to a pub blaring soca music from large fete speakers, and with couples grinding on the curb holding alcohol bottles loosely and swinging in tempo ? In Trinidad and Tobago of course.

The origins of the Tassa drum is an adaptation from the classical Indian Tabla drum. The drum consists of a clay base where the goat skin is stretched over and held by straps. If this drum falls it will shatter. A
hybrid to the Tassa is a drum made from iron sea buoy cut in half. The shell is fitted with a synthetic material taken from a drum kit, and the quality of the sound produced from this instrument is in comparable to the natural goat skin. Only a keen instrumentalist may pick up on its flaws. Tassa drums are heated to preserve its pitch.

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