FROM INDIAN TO INDO-CREOLE: TASSA DRUMMING, CREOLIZATION, AND INDOCARIBBEAN NATIONALISM IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
” Tassa is an Indo-Caribbean musical genre popular in Trinidad and Tobago characterized by a four-part ensemble comprising four instruments: two small kettledrums called “tassa,” a double-headed bass drum called dhol or simply “bass,” and jhal, a set of hand cymbals. In this study, I engage tassa on two interrelated levels. First, I provide a description of the ensemble and a musical analysis of common repertoire. Second, I use this musical analysis to discuss ways in which tassa is evoked as a symbol of Indo-Trinidadian identity. The Caribbean region has historically been regarded in terms of a prevalent Afro- European creolization. The presence of Indians and other marginalized groups, however, problematizes this assumption, both in terms of academic theories of creolization and state-sponsored, Afro-Creole-centric rhetoric valorizing Afro-Caribbean culture to the exclusion of others. This study addresses this problem by providing musical analysis that reveals tassa exists within a coherent Indo-Trinidadian musical system at once indebted to North Indian aesthetics but deployed in an idiosyncratically Caribbean manner principally independent from Afro-Trinidadian input. Such an analysis in turn informs academic and state-sponsored rhetoric surrounding notions of creolization and multiculturalism. ” Summarized Quotes from ‘Abstract’ of the Full Text.