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Broadcast on Public Television

Directed by Robbie Leppzer

Music by Tony Vacca and Tim Moran

A Turning Tide Production

57 minutes • DVD

       SONGS OF THE TALKING DRUM is a spirited journey through a multicultural musical and theatrical landscape.

       CBS recording artists Tony Vacca and Tim Moran are two jazz musicians who combine the polyrhythmic sounds of the West African balafon and talking drum with saxophone and flute, linking contemporary  jazz with its African roots.  Drawing on African-American oral storytelling tradition, playwright and performance artist Andrea Hairston blends dramatic monologue, movement, and music to create a “jazz theater.”  In several performance pieces, accompanied by Vacca and Moran, she portrays the plight of a Salvadoran refugee, a woman living under apartheid in South Africa, and her own fears of nuclear holocaust.

       Through behind-the-scenes rehearsals, studio recording sessions, and on-stage performances, the documentary depicts the cross-cultural fusion of art forms and the creation of vivid sound tapestries.  In interviews and workshops held for children, these innovative artists discuss their own development and the influence of African cultures on American culture today.

        As a portrait of the artistic process at work, SONGS OF THE TALKING DRUM is a powerful celebration of the creative diversity of the human spirit.


        "SONGS OF THE TALKING DRUM shows the unique synergy of music and storytelling.  Taking the audience on an innovative musical voyage, the artists weave an intricate story that reaches the heart and mind of the listener.  Their performances inspire audiences to participate in the magic of making music by sharing techniques for creating rhythm and telling stories.
        SONGS OF THE TALKING DRUMis a wonderful introduction to learning experiences in music, drama or writing classrooms where students explore rhythms and write their own stories to accompany music.  Students could discover the powerful link between music and their own history, real life experiences, ideas, and dreams."
       Nina Tepper, reading and writing teacher, Magnet Middle School for the Arts, Holyoke, MA

        "SONGS OF THE TALKING DRUM provides an educator with insight for involving students in a multicultural experience that emphasizes music and theater.  The video presents ideas for a multitude of artistic modalities: singing, rhythmic clapping, expressive body movement, and storytelling.  Music and theater in this context can become a way of breaking down the ethnic barriers among today’s youth."
       Joseph Peck, musician and educator, Escola de Samba

        "SONGS OF THE TALKING DRUM is a powerful and provocative musical and theatrical testimony to jazz and its African roots.  The video provides a rich opportunity to strengthen the awareness of multicultural education through the arts."
       Carl Grant, Professor of Education and African-American Studies, University of           Wisconsin - Madison; president, National Association for Multicultural Education          


Music • Jazz • Percussion • World Music • African Music and Culture • Theater • Dance Theater • Musical Theater • Multicultural Education • Music Education

57 minutes • DVD

Purchase Price
Individuals - $29.95
• Community Organizations
  (Public Libraries, High Schools, and Community Groups) - $99
• Institutions (Colleges and Universities) - $199



See Related Videos:


FUTBOLITO: A Journey Through Central America



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Turning Tide Productions • PO Box 864    Wendell, MA 01379 • USA
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info [at] turningtide.com • www.turningtide.com