Big Drum

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Big Drum is a genre and a musical instrument from the Windward Islands. It is a kind of Caribbean music, associated mostly closely with the music of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Music of Guadeloupe, Carriacou in Grenada and in the music of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Origin[edit]

All big drum celebration is accompanied by the boula drum. The word boula can refer to at least four different drums played in the Caribbean music area.

The Guadeloupean boula is a hand drum, similar to the tambou bèlè, and is used in gwo ka and special occasions likes wakes, wrestling matches and Carnival celebrations. It is a hand drum that plays low-pitched sounds and is played single-handed and transversally.[1]

The boula of Carriacou is also a hand drum, now most often made of rum casks. It is also called the tambou dibas, and is used in the Big Drum tradition.[2][3]

The boula of Trinidad and Tobago accompanies the stick-fighting dance called kalenda, and is a double-headed barrel drum, played open-handed.[4]

Carriacou[edit]

The inhabitants of Carriacou perform the "Big Drum" or "Nation" dance which celebrates their West African ancestors that were brought to the island during slavery. These Big Drum dances are usually performed at "Maroons" village festivals or fetes, where food and drink are prepared. They can also be danced at wakes and tombstone feasts in honor of dead relatives or marriage ceremonies, tombstone raisings, fishing boat launchings and in the case of ill-health or ill-fortune.In each occasion, the main focus is twofold: remembering lineage and respecting ancestors. The music consists of singing and chanting typically joined by three drums, shakers and maracas. [5]

Guadeloupe[edit]

Gwo ka is the French creole term for Big drum.

The Guadeloupean boula is a hand drum, similar to the tambou bèlè, and is used in gwo ka and special occasions likes wakes, wrestling matches and Carnival celebrations. It is a hand drum that plays low-pitched sounds and is played single-handed and transversally.[1]

Saint Kitts and Nevis[edit]

Big Drum is played in Saint Kitts and Nevis, alongside a kettle drum, during Carnival celebrations.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines[edit]

Vincentian big drums are traditionally made from tree trunks, but are more often made from rum kegs now. The socially aware or satirical lyrics are usually performed by a female singer called a chantwell, and is accompanied by dancers in colorful skirts and headresses. Big Drum is commonly performed at weddings and other celebrations, especially the launches of boats.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Guilbault, Jocelyne (1999). "Guadeloupe". Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume Two: South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Routledge. pp. 873–880. ISBN 0-8153-1865-0. 
  2. ^ McDaniel, Lorna (1999). "Grenada". Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. Volume 2. Routledge. pp. 865–872. ISBN 0-8153-1865-0. 
  3. ^ "Tombstone - Big Drum - Saraca". Paradise Inn. Retrieved September 10, 2005. 
  4. ^ McDaniel, Lorna (1999). "Trinidad and Tobago". Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume Two: South America, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Routledge. pp. 952–967. ISBN 0-8153-1865-0. 
  5. ^ Pearse, Andrew Chernocke. "The Big Drum Dance Of Carriacou". Alexander Street Press. Retrieved 17 September 2012.