Type: Percussion > Idiophones.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.211
Region: South Asia.
Description: The dhantal is a long steel rod based percussion instrument, sounding similar to the triangle when struck, which was adapted from the iron “bows” that yoked the oxen that pulled the carts on the estates in Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, other parts of the Caribbean, Fiji, Mauritius, and South Africa.
Playing Techniques: The dhantal is played by striking a metal rod usually iron or steel with a metal beater shaped like a horseshoe. The amount of resonance is controlled by opening and closing the hand that is holding the rod. The dhantal’s timbre is sharply metallic and provides a clearly defined tal beat or pulse to help the ensemble stay in rhythmic sync.
The basic rhythm of the dhantal is an ostinato consisting of two sixteenth-notes followed by an eighth-note. This rhythm has a similar “feel” to the merengue music of the Dominican Republic, which itself was based on an African rhythm brought to the Caribbean through the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.
Construction: The original beater was an actual horseshoe, a shape which is still retained in the dhantals modern context as a musical instrument. Its top may be blunt or tapered to a fine point to allow for greater resonance, and its end is shaped into a circle that rests on the ground, table, or other surface when it is played. It is usually about a meter long and 0.95 cm or 3/8″ inches to or 0.5 cm or 1/2″ thick.
Citations: The Mainstreaming of Roti Trinidad Express ; Shepherd, John. Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, Volume 9: Genres: Caribbean and Latin America. Bloomsbury Publishing ; Meighoo, Sean. “The Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions”. EBSCO host. Retrieved 17 September 2014 ; Winer, Lise 2009. Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press. p. 294. ISBN 0773534067; Beck, John 1994. The Encyclopedia of Percussion. Garland ;