Mali is a great place if you like music. But you dont have to go there to sample
Malian sounds: many Malian musicians are well-known around the world.
In the 13th century Sundyata Keita, a warrior prince, founded the Malinké Empire in
western Mali. The Malinké culture, including music, dates back to that time.
There are three main Malinké musical styles, Maninka, Bamana, and Mandinka. The first
two are found in Mali:
Maninka, which is the most classical, favoured by Salif Keita, is not very fast, with flowing ornamental melodies over
slow-moving harmonies. The songs are usually sung by women.
Bamana, based on a five-note scale. Melodies are stark and often slow.
All musicians learn a number of core songs in the Malinké style, such as the
epic song, Sundyata. Some melodies are used over and over again, with different
words, and in different arrangements.
Musicians improvise on the main melody and are accompanied by the main way
or big meeting, a two- or four-bar phrase.
Malinké music has, of course, changed and developed over the years, especially since
Malis independence in the 1960s, as well as with the use of recordings, radio, and
television. One such development was the use of dance bands to provide entertainment in
clubs and restaurants.
Traditional musicians belong to a caste, known as the jali. They used to
entertain the Malian nobility at Court, telling epic stories in song. Until relatively
recently, historical knowledge was passed on from one generation to another by the jalis.
See also praise
singers in the Burkina Faso virtual
Most Malian musicians are jalis. It has been very hard for people who are not jalis to
be accepted into the profession. Salif Keita is a rare exception.
During the 1980s, music from the Wassoulou region, south of Bamako, became popular. The
Wassoulou do not have jalis. Their music is based on ancient hunters songs,
accompanied by traditional instruments such as a
hunters harp and the fle. The most famous Wassoulou dance rhythm is the didadi.
A number of big bands were formed in Malis main towns in the 1950s and 1960s.
After independence, the government subsidised bands in Kayes, Ségou, Sikasso, Gao, and
Mopti, and set up the Orchestre Nationale A. The most famous bands are the Rail Band du
Buffet Hotel de la Gare, sponsored by the national railway company, and Les
Ambassadeurs du Motel, in Bamako. The bands feature famous singers such as Mory Kante
and Salif Keita.
Listen to typical Malian music played on Radio Douentza
(532KB) and Track
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