If you see the instrument one would think that it was formed from the design of the traditional steelpan of Trinidad and Tobago. Indeed, the idea was born out of a study of the national instrument of Trinidad and Tobago. The World has taken note of the national instrument and have come up with another creation but this time it was not done by Trinidadians but creative people who saw the potential of the steelpan and took it to a different level of musical creativity. My first impression after listening to the instrument was that it sounded like someone tuning a traditional steelpan. However, if you go to YouTube you can find some really interesting 'playjng or drumming' with this relatively new instrument (hand-drum).
The Hang (pronounced "hung") has been called 'The Musical Flying Saucer' comes from Bern, Switzerland and is the creation of Felix Rohner and Sabina Schärer of PANArt limited. Now everyone knows that the word 'pan' is used to reference the steelpan in Trinidad and 'back in the day' they used the term 'beat pan' when referring to playing the pan. The company name used for the Hang references the word Pan (PANArt) and the sound from the instrument is obtained by 'beating' the tonal area with the bare hand.
The Swiss innovators studied the steelpan and other instruments from around the world including the Gong, Gamelan, Ghatam, drums, Bells and Singing Saw before innovating and coming up with this unique saucer 'pan design'. The word 'HANG' is Burmese for hand and not surprisingly the instrument is played using your hands.
The instrument looks like a pan turned upside down and reminds me of watching Boogsie playing the steelpan upside down. However, 'The Hang' consists of two hemispheres of steel fused together is a unique fashion and is played using bare hands instead of 'pan sticks'. One side (top) is called the 'DING Side' while the bottom area (vented in the middle) is called the 'GU Side'. It is used like a drum and is played similarly. The DING side has eight notes tuned to scale while the GU side is designed without notes (one side is played). The sound is similar to the steelpan but different (listen to the sound from the YouTube video provided below).
Here is a clip from the the Wikipedia article "The Hang":
"The Hang uses some of the same physical principles as a steelpan but with a nitrided surface and structural change of having two clamped shells with a small opening so that the instrument is a Helmholtz resonator.The creation of the Hang was the result of many years of research on the steelpan as well as the study of a diverse collection of instruments from around the world such as gongs, gamelan, ghatam, drums and bells.Metallurgical and acoustic research by the makers has led to significant changes and refinement in structure, design, and process over the years since the first Hang was offered."
Here is another reference to the steelpan from the same article but this time about 'Playing the Hang':
"The Hang is typically played resting on the player's lap. The Hang is generally played with the hands and fingers instead of mallets. This lighter playing tends to produce a complex overtone-rich sound that could be considered 'softer' and 'warmer' than the 'bright' sound of a mallet based traditional steelpan."
Here is an example of how 'The Hang' is played and the sound that emanates from the instrument. There are many videos on YouTube regarding 'The Hang'. Go ahead and view some - it is a very interesting instrument.
Tobago's hilly landscape and idyllic beaches have always been an attraction to visitors. From 1580 to 1814 the island changed hands 33 times between Courland, Spain, France, Dutch, Sweden and England. In 1889 Tobago became united with Trinidad and the economy of the island at the time depended on the agriculture of sugar-cane and cocoa, which led to the construction of many forest trails around the island. Some of these forest trails still exist giving rise to the increasing significance of eco-tourism.There are over 230 species of birds some 25 of which are indigenous only to the island making it one of the best places to view birds in the Caribbean.
On Saturday there will be a hike to Twin Rivers waterfall at 7 a.m. The Twin Rivers waterfall is located in Goldsborough with its source coming from the Tobago Main Ridge Forest Reserve. It is a tributary of The Great River and the name Twin Rivers came about because at the base of the falls the river joins another large tributary. Hiking time upstream along the stony river bed will take 40 minutes to reach the falls where there is a large pool for swimming. Getting to the top of the falls is challenging but a variety of cascading waterfalls and pools can be discovered in this seemingly unexplored land..
On that day there will be another hike from Speyside to Pirates Bay. This is a one-way hike from Speyside Lookout to Tobago's highest point Pigeon Peak (550 metres or 1,804 feet) then a steep descend to Flag Staff Hill and Pirates Bay. Estimated hiking time to Pirates Bay is two and a half hours. There is also a shorter hike from Flagstaff Hill to Pirates Bay for those preferring an easier route. This hiking time is 35 minutes downhill .
I was reading the Trinidad Express newspaper this morning (Internet Edition) and saw an interesting article that I decided to Reblog. Why? Well, I was unaware that Tobago had over 230 species of birds. I was aware of the special nature of Tobago's rain forests but this caught me by surprise. I always thought about birds with respect to the Asa Wright Nature Center located of the Blanchieusse Road just a short drive from the town of Arima.
The article was worth the Reblog because it also provides some historical information about Island... Not many islands in the Caribbean changed hands (sovereign ownership) over 33 times! The Express article also provides information about the Georgraphical make up of the Island (Twin rivers and Twin river water fall located in Goldsborough). Go ahead and ink to the article and if you should have any additional information please use the comment option to leave a message.
I love ginger so much that I will drink or eat anything that has ginger in it. Ginger drinks are a special delight and should be enjoyed by everyone.Now not all ginger drinks are created equal and one must be careful not to confuse them. I am not talking about ginger ale but good ole traditional West Indian Ginger beer!
In the islands of the caribbean we make a an aromatic ginger drink that we like to call ginger beer. No, it is not beer in the traditional sense of the word but when in the islands don't ask for it by any other name but ginger beer. This really good drinks are spicy and burn like fire on the way down your palette. That is the very traditional ginger beer found in Trinidad - a really fermented brew that not only burns on the way down but also lights up your stomach briefly.
Ah, now that was refreshing, spicy yes and a drink that can really hit the spot is made right. One has to be careful because not everyone can make this drink that that would want to coming back for more. Ginger beer on the rocks is so good when sweetened just right and is even better when brewed correctly with that ginger smack at the back of your throat. One has to be careful with the ingredients because if you add too much clove the drink can end up with a sour taste instead of the wanted gingery flavor. Another item that can ruin a good ginger beer is the container used to ferment the ginger beer. Using plastic is a bad idea. The ideal container is one made of glass.
Ginger beer is the traditional drink of Christmas in Trinidad along with red and even sweeter Sorrell drink. However, my favorite is Ginger beer simply because of the burn that accompanys it. I remember the manufactures of Solo beverages used to bottle a ginger soda that came close to the local brew but it was not really the same but very good on a very hot day. There is a bottled drink that is made in Jamaica that I have purchased and tasted in the United States that comes close to the local brew. However, there is nothing better than the home brewed ginger drink known as ginger beer.
So what are the ingredients used to make a traditional Ginger beer drink? Well the first and obvious ingredient is the ginger root. However, one must get this first step right because the right ginger makes the most potent drink! It is best to get the ginger as fresh as possible. It must be firm and smooth and have a light shine to it. If you notice that the ginger root looks dull in color or is cracked then don't select these - they are not as potent as fresh ginger root. The rest of the ingredients include some lime or lemon juice or another citrus, try grapefruit. Some people prefer to put the lime or lemon peel instead of the juce in their brew. It is good to experiment you may come up with something that is different and delicious. Of course add sugar to taste, cloves (be careful not to add too much since this will spoil the drink and make it sour to the taste) and a cinamon stick. Others have added vanilla bean and mint. Of course over a period of time you would come up with your very own special recipe. This is my Tip of the day: Just add a dash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters!
The fermentation process is special. Some people put the ingredients in a glass jar and put it out in Sunlight for a period of time. Others put everything in the jar and place it in the refrigerator while some like to put it in a cool corner in the kitchen. The fermentation process is does not take long from a few hours to a few days. You will determine what is best after a few tries. After the fermentation process is done the contents are then strained to removed the solid particles. The contents are then refrigerated and served cold or with ice in a glass. West Indians love ice in their cold drinks. The straining process also has its do's and don'ts. However, it does not matter how you do it as long as you are satisfied with the finished product. Some people use a strainer with some solids left behind; others use paper towel in a sieve to get out most of the solid particles while other use a piece of white cotton cloth to get the clearest drink.
Ginger beer is really a Christmas drink in Trinidad but some of the food bars selling Roti and other traditional local cuisine may have ginger beer year round. This is a mouth watering drink and a must try if you are visiting the islands for the first time. If you live in North America or Europe or wheresoever then you need to give the recipe a try. If you do please remember to come back here and tell us what you did that made your drink so special and yes... Delicious!
Tonight, I was listening to some of David Rudder's music and remembered that on the blog Trinizagada I have a really cool version of David's classic song "Calypso Music". I just love this version of Calypso Music and after listening, so too will you! The following is a re-post from Trinizagada:
Everyone is aware that David Michael Rudder is an awesome singer who has written and sung some of the best calypsos ever! This feeling is echoed on many websites on the Internet. Allmusic.com had this to say about one of my favorite David Rudder songs and the subject of this post - Calypso Music: "The title track of his 1988 album Calypso Music remains one of the best selling songs in calypso history."
We all love David Rudder and his music. However, today I am featuring a version of Calypso Music that I simply love. I first heard the song played by Damion Melville on www.wackradio901fm.com.
It took me some time to get the track but I was able to get a link to embed the song from http://www.reverbnation.com. Listen to this jazzed up version of 'Calypso Music' as done by the group "Elan Parle". Their music is sold under the banner of Kaiso-Jazz, World Fusion Music. This version is just awesome - listen and enjoy!
ARTIST SUMMARY Genres: Other / Kaiso-jazz / World FusionLabel: ParlemusikManagement: Michael Low Chew Tung Label: Parlemusik Management: Michael Low Chew Tung Members: Ming - Composer/Arranger/Keyboardist, Sean Friday - Bass, Richie Joseph - Drums http://www.reverbnation.com/elanparle
The Tamana Cave system is located in the Central Range of Trinidad. In order to get to the area most people travelling from the West and North Western areas of Trinidad head to the town of Sangre Grande (Big Blood) and south of the are to access the Tamana elevated region. This area (known as the Central Range) is considered the Central 'mountain' region of the island even though the highest elevation is just 1,009 feet. The area runs from the South West to the North East of the island. This area is different from the Northern Range of Mountains because the area was once a coral reef that was pushed up because of geological activity. This area is primarily limestone with a network of caves that have been home for a variety of bat species and other creatures.
Just to think of a bat cave should be just that, a thought, and not some place to visit. However, for the naturalist it is a 'must see' place of interest. Forget the guano on the floor produced by over one million bats and other creatures that call the cave system their home. Various species very large roaches and other insects live in this area. Seeing the area in daylight could be interesting for someone like me but people who venture to the Tamana caves are interested in seeing inside the caves and what happens when night fall arrives.
Close to one and a half million bats shreak and exit the caves as nighfall arrives to head out for their nightly feeding activities. Trinidad has about 67 species of bats and in the Tamana caves there are about eleven different species that inhabit this cave system. It has been reported that there are fruit eating bats (I know they love sapodilla), nectar and even vampire bats (they seek out animals for their blood treat).
During the rainy season the area could become a difficult trek with lots of slippery path ways and sapate mud (this mud sticks to your shoes and is very slippery). The dry season should make the hike a more tolerable adventure for those who love to adventure in these areas.
I have never entered any cave and probably will never venture into one. However, those who have entered this area reported sheats of guano on the ground with a memorable stench. Above their heads are bats clinging to the ceiling, flying insects and a variety of bugs. Those who remain outside are wowed by the bats leaving the caves by the hundreds. This is the moment that those who adventure into the area look forward to witnessing. Some have described it as "fear and wonder". I would tend to lean toward the fear aspect and wonder why would someone want to be in an area with bats zooming past them. I guess it is the adventure and wonder of it all that intrigues someone to venture into bat-world!
The following information was sourced from Wikipedia and can be accessed from this link: Tamana Caves.
"Tamana caves (or Tamana cave) is a cave system located on the northern slope of Mount Tamana in eastern Trinidad. Mount Tamana is a 307-metre flat topped hill of Miocene Guaracara Limestone of the Tamana Formation in the eastern Central Range.
Julian Kenny described the main cave as consisting of 18 separate sections. He documented two chimneys and a "walk-in chamber". The walk-in chamber connected to a "boulder chamber" that was heavily used by bats, and to a crawl hole which connected to the remainder of the cave system. Beyond the crawl hole was a subterranean stream and a passage which connected to the chimney area. Beyond that the passages descended further, ending in what Kenny called the "New Deep" and the "Far Deep", areas which had not been explored at the time of his publication.
Kenny reported that eleven bat species permanently roosted in the cave, while a twelfth species roosted occasionally in an adjacent dry cave. Certain species were restricted to specific areas of the cave, while others were scattered throughout." End Wikipedia Article.
The Aripo Caves are also known as the "Oil Bird Caves of Trinidad". The caves are nestled in the Northern Range and can be located in the village of Aripo. In this area one can locate the highest point in Trinidad known as El Cerro del Aripo. There is a site that provides some very useful information about the Oilbird Caves of Trinidad and can be linked here: Oilbird Caves of Trinidad.
I have had the opportunity to go into the Blanchieusse Forest area and I can tell you that the forests are green and the water is clear. People who have had the opportunity to get near the caves say that the area stinks! I guess that it is a by-product of the guano of the Oil birds. I don't like dark places and to venture into a cave in the mountainous regions of Trinidad is not going to happen for me. Those whom are adventurous should enjoy trekking through the forest to get to these caves where the Oil bird aka "Guácharo" resides.
The following information was sourced from Wikipedia:
The Aripo Cave is a cave in the Northern Range, in Trinidad and Tobago. The caves are a notable bat roost, and that bats contribute considerable amounts of guano, which in turn support vast numbers of cave dwelling invertebrates.But the caves most famous residents are the Oil birds. These are the only nocturnal fruit eating birds in the world. They forage at night, navigating by echolocation in the same way as the bats.
Many moons ago (please don’t ask, smile) I was employed with the Ministry of Works in Arima. The main office was located in a small building opposite the Arima Municipal stadium (“The Velodrome”). My first assignment was on the Blanchieusse road where one of the bridges collapsed. Not long after that assignment I was sent to work on the construction of the Bridge across the Arima River located on the Arima Old Road. This Bridge leads to the Arima Senior Comprehensive School and was an important link for the buses to get to the school. OK, so I was the “Checker” who kept the records at the site and our foreman’s name was Mr. Julian Reid – a wonderful man. This is where I learned the ins and outs of Babash.
Harrilal Singh, a resident of Central Trinidad would bring the “coffee” as we called it because the guys working in the river area needed “something to warm up the insides”. We had this triangular piece of half inch steel that Clyde, our in-house steel bender, designed that would act as our cow bell to call the guys in. The sound of the bell did not indicate that it was break time, it was a call to the senses that something special had arrived. The sounding bell was not like that of the primary schools where one would cringe because it was time to get to classes - this was different. It was used to let the guys know that it was time to leave the the rive and come up for some “coffee”. The only thing is that this “coffee”, if poured on a piece of lumbar and lighted would easily behave like gasoline – and it felt like fire rushing down your throat, not because it was hot like a traditional coffee drink, but because of the alcohol content. To be honest and in retrospect, that was literally fire-water. The concoction also had a unique scent that is typical of this home brew. Yes it was an illegal brew but those were the good ole days – say whatever you want but that is how I feel about that period of my life.
These memories and the need for a new name for one of my earlier blogs led me to select Babash as the new name for the previously named site Trini2DMarrow.vox.com. Vox was a free site owned by Six Apart - the Typepad people. Babash the blog does not exist anymore but the brew that lit up our senses back then now has a regal name to it. A refined and remix of the original recipe has been given the midas touch by Moët Hennessy and is being sold to the International community under the name 10 Cane Rum.
This legal brew is only available for purchase,in Trinidad, at the duty free section at Piarco Airport but is easily available in the United States and other major cities around the World. The procuct is produced in St. Madeline in South Trinidad and is made from the first press of the sugar cane and not brewed from molasses. The first press of the sugar cane is then sent to Angostura limited where it is now blended with aged Angostura rum to produce the latest iteration of the brew. "Hey,what a t'ing indeed." Bush Rum that is; Babash has grown up and it took a French Company to see the light.
Indeed, the drink has a kick and lit up many lives back in the day. Now it has a regal price of US $31.00 a bottle. However, the changes to the brew have kept the original babash drink unique and can still stand alone as the original fire-water. Some have likened the 10 Cane Rum drink to the Brazilian Cachaça rum. The Hennessey site states that it takes 10 stalks of sugar cane to produce one bottle of the rum, hense the name 10 Cane Rum. So when you think of Babash the drink, think about the regal nature of 10 Cane rum, a product of Trinidad recreated and reblended by Moët Hennessy and all the stars will be aligned just right.
Here is your opportunity to sit back and enjoy one of Trinidad and Tobago's 'sweeter than sugarcane" voices - Russel Leonce. We present his latest offering of a JJ film production of the song "Unchanging". The message is clear and the singing and presentation is as impressive as "Troubles won't last".
Not all local artistes put out work that can compare with that of the North American music videos - this one does! The blog "Santiwah" is pleased to bring you a son of the soil - the impressive Russel Leonce! The name of the song is worth repeating once again - "Unchanging".
I have to say this here and now, "Wonderful and a simply amazing song. The music that accompanys the song is so relaxing, so soothing that it just blends in with the vocals.... I am amazed with Russel Leonce's talent.... "Troubles won't last" and now "Unchanging". Simply put - Superb!
OK, so did you enjoy the new video? I am sure you did and just to keep the music of Russel in the air here again are the two songs that were mentioned/featured in this post:
The critics are having a field day criticizing the government of Trinidad and Tobago regarding the current State of Emergency and curfew that have been in place in the country. The state of criminality reached alarming proportions that warranted this drastic measure to help stem the tide of criminal activities.
The nation was surprised and complained about draconian measures that they never voted for when they decided to unseat the PNM administration. The PP government has been criticized severely for the current implementation of the State of Emergency. However, while the 'educated few' are making waves in the media condemning the SoE there are those whom are very thankful...The following is an excerpt from an article that appeared in today's Trinidad Guardian Newspapers.
"According to some residents, the streets were so quiet one “can hear a pin drop.” Janelle Richards, 33, who has lived on Duncan Street, Port-of-Spain, all her life, said all she has heard since the state of emergency began has been silence.
She said: “Before the curfew, I would lie on my bed and all I hearing is gunshots. Every night is gunshots, people bawling and cars speeding off. “I felt eventually it would have been empty shells of buildings and no people to live in them.” Richards said though liming and laughter could be heard during the day and evening hours, the area would sink into a piercing silence just before the curfew began. This year began with 14 reported murders in Laventille and Port-of-Spain South in January alone. There were six reported in February, 11 in March, nine in April, seven in May, seven in June. It hiked to 13 in July. Eight murders were recorded in August before the emergency was declared."
I recently came across this video clip on YouTube and thought to myself... "Damn what a wonderful idea!" Our Calypsonians have told so many stories in their songs and to have a story book published for the children from a Calypso was long overdue. Just think about the possibilities... Lord Kitchener and the Mighty Sparrow have so may Calypsoes that could be made into story books not just for children but also for the adults... There are many funny calypsos that a stories created from them could put a smile on the faces of the adult population.
I really like the feel of this project (Boy Boy and the Magid Drum); just saying the title has a good feel and the music (song magic drum) is just wonderful. Kudos to you Machel, and the publishers who were so creative with this project.
The book was first published in 2009 and rides on the success of the song Magic Drum as its core sales pitch. Having said that I must say the story is a wonderful idea if only because it is 'total local' and ideas that the children could relate to at home. The tale is about Boy Boy who uses the 'magic of music' to change his environment and more importantly his life. What a beautiful thing indeed!
Dip Publishing's own Machel Montano at the re-launch of his book Boy Boy and the Magic Drum at Nigel R Khan Booksellers location at Trincity Mall. Nigel R Khan, the exclusive distributors of this book in Trinidad and Tobago and everything that's Dip!