Suriname Maroons Stringed Instruments From Africa, Banjo History, Bania, Agwado, Bolon

The story of the Banjo underscores for me the reason why I started this blog. It shows pretty clearly, in my opinion, how interconnected the culture and history of the African diaspora is in the New World.

Thanks to John Gabriel Stedman we have a good idea of what instruments the slaves in Suriname played. Stedman was a mercenary, hired to fight against the maroons in Suriname during the mid 18th century maroon wars.

Here is a drawing from Stedman of Instruments he encountered in Suriname in 1776:

Instruments_musique_noirs_guyane.jpeg Continue reading

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Various Popular Surinamese Music Styles

Aleke

Aleke(ah-lih-kih) is basically traditional Aukansi with faster rhythm. It was inspired by a city worker and musician, Alexander in the fifties, who wanted to make the music more danceable. From this time the Aleke kept being developed and now one of the most popular music forms in Suriname. The name Aleke is in fact a direct reference to Alexander, who was called Aleke by the locals

Here is a remix from “Kan Kan mang”(Kan Kan is a term used to indicate more pure African in the New World, It’s sort of similar to the sentiment “Say it loud I’m black And I’m proud”) :


KasKawi

Kaskawi(kahs-kah-wee) is mix between traditional city music Kaseko and traditional Aukansi music Kawina with some pop and R&B influences.

For the most part it is played with the traditional Kawina instruments.

kawina drum – double sided drum, played horizontally from both sides; Kwakwa bangi(kwah kwah bah ngee) – small bench; Skraki(skrah chee) drum – big round bass drum with cymbals on top; Apinti(Ah peentee) drum – traditional upright drum(sometimes substituted with congas) in addition to keyboards, guitar, bass and sometimes brass instruments.

The popular group “La Rouge” are the premier pioneers of this genre and are in my opinion the best at it.

Here is their most recent live appearance in Suriname:


Kaseko

Kaseko(kah-sih-koh) is the first style that became popular after Emancipation of Slavery. The former slaves learned to play instruments and used those instruments to interpret traditional music they knew. Kaseko is arguably still the most popular of all the Surinamese styles:

Here is a popular band called Sabaku:


Kawina

Kawina(Kah wee nah) is as roots as it gets for popular Surinamese music. Traditionally it is song and drum only music. The lyrics are oftentimes interwoven with religious themes, love themes, life experience themes and sometimes even tid bits of slavery times.  If you are at a soccer game Suriname you may see some impromptu Kawina performances in the stands.

Kawina is where all popular Surinamese music has it’s roots in. It is played with typical Surinamese drums.

kawina drum – double sided drum, played horizontally from both sides; Kwakwa bangi(kwah kwah bah ngee) – small bench; Skraki(skrah chee) drum – big round bass drum with cymbals on top; Apinti(Ah peentee) drum – traditional upright drum(sometimes substituted with congas)


Orhestral Intrepretation Of Kaseko

The following was recorded during a show honoring the late Kaseko great “Lieve Hugo” aka “Iko”. It was recorded in Holland. The singer is Surinamese as is the main rhythm section