Shake, Click, Tak – The Poetry of Asalato
A look into our human journey from play to performance.
As an adult, we reminisce about the moments of childhood where we felt the pure joy of play. Where in that very moment of play, we practically lived in another world. Many performers around the world experience similar zone-tripping moments in their expression and work.
From Play to Performance, they all share the same pure state of mind.
One that each of us can attain.
One that would be made easier by playing the asalato.
What is the asalato?
Asalato is a toy and instrument from West Africa (mainly Senegal and Ghana). Two gourds filled with beads, seeds or pebbles, delicately combined by the extension of a rope.
The asalato tells a story of our human journey in learning and growth.
Origins of the asalato
No one knows the exact moment the asalato was first created.
It is believed to have started as a toy that children put together using their creativity and inquisitiveness, with the resources that lay across the great African land.
Children harvested gourds from the “snuff-box tree”, a common tree along the coast of Africa, and put the gourds together with rope-like materials they found in the vast prairie.
Shake! Click! Tak!
Sounds of the asalato rang across the great grassland, as children played their beloved tunes to the rhythm of Mother Nature.
The play of children contains many elements that reflect performance. They show off to their friends and families, after finding a sense of pride in mastering unique tricks.
Over generations, the asalato has evolved from a toy into a means of performance. Today, it is a toy in a child’s hands, an enjoyment in a stranger’s hands, and an instrument in a musician’s hands.
Feel the Groove
Asalato tricks require dexterity and immense physical coordination. They also bring out the rhythm and groove of the player of the asalato.
In the hands of a sensitive musician, the asalato will harness the listener’s underlying urge to move with the music. The magic of the asalato lies in its polyrhythm – multiple sounds at the same time and beat.
What is this sensation like? You will find out when the asalato is in the palm of your hand.