Brought to Trinidad by indentured labourers from India who first arrived in 1845, tassa drumming has become an important marker of Indian Trinidadian cultural identity. “Sweet Tassa” explores both musical and socio-political elements of tassa performance, focusing on the life and family of noted drummer Lenny Kumar. As the story unfolds, tassa emerges as a metaphor for Indian Caribbean culture, rooted in India while also thoroughly Caribbean.
Medium Length (58mins) Documentary Historical | Trinidad and Tobago
Christopher L. Ballengee is an ethnomusicologist and Associate Professor of Music at Anne Arundel Community College (Maryland, USA). Dr. Ballengee’s research on tassa drumming is based on fieldwork in Trinidad and the Trinidadian community in Florida since 2007. He was the inaugural Diego Carpitella Visual Ethnomusicology fellow at the Giorgio Cini Foundation (Venice, Italy) which supported post-production of the documentary film "Sweet Tassa: Music of the Indian Caribbean Diaspora" (2019). His current work includes co-editing a collection of essays on Indian-Caribbean visual and performing arts and developing a comparative project researching dhol-tasha drumming and related genres throughout the Indian post-indenture diaspora.