Music of Suriname

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The music of Suriname is known for kaseko music, and for having an Indo-Caribbean tradition.

Kaseko is a musical genre from Suriname. It is a fusion of numerous popular and folk styles derived from Europe, Africa and the Americas.

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Kaseko

The term Kaseko is probably derived from the French expression casser le corps (break the body), which was used during slavery to indicate a very swift dance. Kaseko is a fusion of numerous popular and folk styles derived from Europe, Africa and the Americas. It is rhythmically complex, with percussion instruments including skratji (a very large bass drum) and snare drums, as well as saxophone, trumpet and occasionally trombone. Singing can be both solo and choir. Songs are typically call-and-response, as are Creole folk styles from the area, such as kawina.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Rhythm aspect of music

Rhythm generally means a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions". This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time can apply to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or frequency of anything from microseconds to several seconds ; to several minutes or hours, or, at the most extreme, even over many years.

Percussion instrument Type of musical instrument that produces a sound by being hit

A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater ; struck, scraped or rubbed by hand; or struck against another similar instrument. The percussion family is believed to include the oldest musical instruments, following the human voice.

Kaseko emerged from the traditional Afro-Surinamese kawina music, which was played since the beginning of 1900 by Afro-Surinamese street musicians in Paramaribo. It evolved in the 1930s during festivities that used large bands, especially brass bands, and was called Bigi Pokoe (big drum music). Following World War II, jazz, calypso and other importations became popular, while rock and roll from the United States soon left its own influence in the form of electrified instruments.

Paramaribo Capital City in Paramaribo District, Suriname

Paramaribo is the capital and largest city of Suriname, located on the banks of the Suriname River in the Paramaribo District. Paramaribo has a population of roughly 241,000 people, almost half of Suriname's population. The historic inner city of Paramaribo has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.

Brass band musical ensemble generally consisting entirely of brass instruments

A brass band is a musical ensemble generally consisting entirely of brass instruments, most often with a percussion section. Ensembles that include brass and woodwind instruments can in certain traditions also be termed brass bands, but may more correctly termed military bands, concert bands, or "brass and reed" bands.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Hindi-Surinamese music/Baithak Gana

Indian music arrived with immigrants from South Asia. This originally included folk music played with dhantal, tabla, sitar, harmonium and dholak, later including tassa drums. Music was mostly Hindu songs called bhajans, as well as filmi. The tan singing style is unique to the Indian community in Suriname and Guyana.

Music of India Includes multiple varieties of classical music, folk music, filmi, Indian rock and Indian pop

The music of India includes multiple varieties of classical music, folk music, filmi, Indian rock and Indian pop. India's classical music tradition, including Hindustani music and Carnatic, has a history spanning millennia and developed over several areas. Music in India began as an integral part of socio-religious life.

The dhantal is a long steel rod based percussion instrument, which was adapted from the iron "bows" that yoked the oxen that pulled the carts on the estates in Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, other parts of the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius, and South Africa. The original beater was an actual horseshoe, a shape which is still retained in the dhantal's modern context as a musical instrument. Its top may be blunt or tapered to a fine point to allow for greater resonance, and its end is shaped into a circle that rests on the ground, table, or other surface when it is played. It is usually about a meter long and 3/8" to 1/2" thick.

Tabla musical instrument

The tabla is a membranophone percussion instrument originating from the Indian subcontinent, consisting of a pair of drums, used in traditional, classical, popular and folk music. It has been a particularly important instrument in Hindustani classical music since the 18th century, and remains in use in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. The name tabla likely comes from tabl, the Persian and Arabic word for drum. However, the ultimate origin of the musical instrument is contested by scholars, some tracing it to West Asia, others tracing it to the evolution of indigenous musical instruments of the Indian subcontinent. Some famous Tabla players include Pandit Chatur Lal, Pt. Kishan Maharaj, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Ustad Allah Rakha Qureshi, Pandit Yogesh Samsi, Pandit Swapan Chaudhary, Pandit Suresh Talwalkar and Pandit Anindo Chatterjee.

Alioko is also a very popular form of religious music that developed through different cultures and made its way to Suriname. Using drums and forms of guitars they communicate with the spirits and gods through this ( al- ee- ock - oh ) music.

Recorded Indian music in Suriname began with the release of King of Suriname/The Star Melodies Of Ramdew Chaitoe by Ramdew Chaitoe, in 1958. Chaitoe became very popular, and his music, which was religious in nature, left a lasting influence on future performers. However, no one very successful arose following Chaitoe, until 1968, when Dropati released Let's Sing and Dance , an album of religious songs that remains extremely popular.

Ramdew Chaitoe

Ramdew Chaitoe was a Surinamese artist and a harmonium player, who released a Baithak Gana album called The King Of Suriname a.k.a The Star Melodies of Ramdew Chaitoe in 1976. Rumors exist about how Chaitoe started his career singing in jail after being arrested in a bar fight.

Considered by many to be the mother of modern-day Baithak Gana, Dropati was introduced to the Indian music industry in the Caribbean by way of her album Let's Sing and Dance. Produced in 1968, the album includes captivating wedding folk songs that easily transport the listener to colorful Indian village weddings dating centuries before Dropati's time.

<i>Lets Sing and Dance</i> television series

Let's Sing and Dance, formerly known as Let's Dance, is a British television programme shown on BBC One, featuring celebrities performing famous dance routines to raise money for the charities Comic Relief and Sport Relief. The programme was presented by Steve Jones and Alex Jones, who replaced previous host Claudia Winkleman in 2011. In the first series, Anton du Beke was a regular judge, appearing alongside two guest panellists, but in the second series onwards, three guest judges were on the panel each week.

In 1958, East Indian music finally made its debut on the recording industry with the release of an album of devotional songs, by Ramdew Chaitoe of Suriname. His album titled, King of Suriname and The Star Melodies of Ramdew Chaitoe was quite appropriately named, as it made him a household name with East Indians not just in Suriname, but throughout the Caribbean. Although his songs were religious in nature, the use of the strong beats of the dhantal and dholak, coupled with his own creolised version of Hindi often had many listeners dancing as if it were a pop song. In fact, one song, "Raat Ke Sapna," would go on to become a huge dance hit in the decades to follow.

Although the release of King of Suriname presented a breakthrough for East Indian music, it was quite short lived, as few artists managed to succeed Ramdew Chaitoe in the years to follow. It was not until the 1960s that another Surinamese would catapult East Indian music onto the scene once again. In 1968, a woman by the name of Dropati debuted with an album of traditional wedding songs, titled, Lets Sing & Dance. Once again, although religious in nature, Dropati's songs, much like those of Ramdew Chaitoe, went on to become huge pop hits within the East Indian community. Dropati's epic songs such as "Gowri Pooja" and "Lawa" became such big hits that they firmly secured her name in history as one of the pillars of Indo-Caribbean music (Dropati, 1993). Lets Sing & Dance along with King of Suriname remain two of the best selling East Indian albums of all time, even to this day (Ramdew Chaitoe, 1993). The effects of the release of these two albums were tremendous. Not only did they prove East Indian music as a legitimate art form, but they also united the East Indians of the Caribbean regardless of whether they were Guyanese, Trinidadian, Jamaican or Surinamese. However, these two albums also showed the need for a more popular, non-religious form of East Indian music, one that would combine the high pitched dholak, dhantal & tassa drum beats with the folk and Hindi lyrics that made Lets Sing & Dance and King of Suriname/The Star Melodies Of Ramdew Chaitoe becoming so popular. [1]

Hindustani Classical music in Suriname

With the help of Government of India, the "Indiaase cultureel Centrum" was established under Embassy of India in Paramaribo. Many teachers visited on deputation and promoted Hindustani classical Music. Prof. Kinot, Ms. Sujata, Ut. Md. Sayeed Khan, Mr. Ardhendu Shekhar, Mrs. Rita Bokil and a few more teachers came. Prof. Rajesh Kelkar (from historic Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda), while working with the Cultural centre, expanded teaching of music to Nickerie (247 km from capital) and other places with missionary zeal. His efforts took Indian music into interior villages of Suriname. His services were longest in Suriname.

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References

  1. https://web.archive.org/web/20000823032141/http://saxakali.com/caribbean/Hemchandra1.htm