A couple of days ago, I came across a video on Instagram, it was about a zoo in Germany and the animals in it. During the pandemic, no one visited the zoo for many months which resulted in the animals getting depressed. The zookeepers then came up with a brilliant and creative solution, they called up a pianist and plugged him to the PA system of the zoo and he played some classical music on the piano and within a few minutes, all the animals in the zoo started to move, monkeys started jumping around, the giraffes started waving their long necks and the whole zoo filled up with the calls of the animals. That’s what music can do. It was literally one of the most heartwarming things I came across in a long time and the very next day, Taal Inc. and friends released their new single, ‘Kassa’ and I couldn’t help but replay the video in my head and I felt quite similar to what those animals may have felt in Germany. There, this one sound, Kassa, made me feel so connected to music and it’s extraordinary healing power that can be felt by not just humans but all living beings on a deeper level than we sometimes understand.

What is Kassa? Well, Before I tell you the cultural heritage of Kassa, the rhythm and the song, let me first share the intention behind the song. Kassa is created as a prayer. It’s an endeavour to fuel everyone with hope and healing in dire times. It’s a wish for prosperity for one and all and an effort to create an uplifting sound one can come back to everytime they’re seeking joy and positivity. Kassa is water for a thirsty soul in a desert.

Coming to its cultural significance, Kassa belongs to the western part of Africa, North East Guinea to be precise. The word Kassa literally means ‘Granary’. It’s a rhythm and song that’s played and sung when the farmers are working in the field, or done harvesting their crop and working together threshing it and storing it; in short, when they’re celebrating a good harvest. It’s played for the safekeeping of the crops and to wish everyone prosperity.

It brings me to a beautiful coincidence that happened with me when I first heard Kassa. I’m currently living in a village in the mountains and the farmers here have just harvested their crops of wheat, ‘Kanak’ they call it here and for the past two weeks, one family after the other have been threshing their crops outside my house and they have also been singing folk songs while the entire family is coming together for this once a year ritual. When Varun told me about what Kassa means, I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how I’ve been watching this coming together of families in awe and the next morning, I put on Kassa on my headphones and watched them do it again, this time with a different song but it didn’t feel any different. The whole experience blended in so beautifully just to make me realise that once music reaches a certain stage, the barriers of language and boundaries disappear and what remains is pure, unadulterated joy and hence, I refrained from explaining what the lyrics of the song mean.

To listen to Kassa : www.taalinc.net/taal-inc-friends

Aman Joshi
Taal Inc. Drum Circle Facilitator