Sunday, August 19, 2007

My name is 'Djembe'.

In tassa class
Yesterday I had my first drum class with the stick fighters. It's 'all the way' in Sangre Grande, in the Civic Centre - and the only students are a young Indian man (who's been doing in the class for 4 weeks so far) and I. Upon arrival there, I found out that in addition to learning traditional folk rhythms on the djembe , we will also be learning to play tassa. Talk about a rhythmic multi-cultural baptism. The two tassa teachers were there as well. The first 60 - 90 minutes of the class are for djembe and the next 60 - 90 minutes are for tassa.

I only discovered this on the drive up to Grande: turns out that this is an actual 12-week course (a free one) being offered by the Ministry of Culture. At the end of it we will get certificates.

Around midday, I picked up the teacher, Desmond, in Arouca, then we picked up his son, 'Rattas', and drove to Grande. Desmond can't remember or pronounce my name, so he had me stored in his cellular phone as 'Djembe'. That (and sometimes "Doods") is what he has christened me and continues to call me. He is an interesting person - big and solid with a jolly spirit and a dry, rootsy way of saying things ...

On the drive up to Grande he was telling his son (about me): "Ah not letting she go! She stayin' wit we! Ah want alla dem group to see we have a woman playin' wit we!"

And telling me: "Doods, by de time we finish wit yuh, you go be cuttin' dat djembe like nuttin'! Watch and see!"

When we reached to the Grande Civic Centre ...
Desmond: Yuh have Chinee in yuh?
Me: No. Carib.
Desmond (starts up a rhythm on his djembe): Dis is de 'Carib' riddim. Dis is your riddim!!!
Me (looking at his features): You have Carib too?
Desmond: But how yuh mean?! Yuh know de ting self! My mudder fair-fair jes like you and she hair like you too. She a Carib.

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Anonymous Kikipotamus the Hobo said...

Doods! Neat. Were you on that tape? If so, which one is you?

11:06 PM  
Blogger Elspeth said...

No I wasn't on the tape, because I was filming it on my digital camera. The foot at the end is mine.

6:10 AM  

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