Posts Tagged With: music

Soukora – Talking Timbuktu

Soukora – Talking Timbuktu

In this clip you can listen to the legendary Ali Farka Toure singing one of the most beautiful love songs on this planet. Soukora is a song recorded for the LP/CD Talking Timbuktu that was released in 1994.

Talking Timbuktu was a muscial collaboration between the man and African blues musician extraordinaire, who was called the Johnny Lee Hooker of Mali, Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder. The collaboration between the two men crossed cultural boundaries in the most beautiful way.

The combination of both musicians who are two of the greatest guitar players on different continents on this planet is unbeatable. What politics can not achieve, music does.

Soukara is sung in the Bambara language. I brought a lot of music from Mali but Talking Timbouctou is still one of my favourite recordings of all times. Where I go Talking Timbuktu goes with. A decade later it still creates the same emotions as when I listened to it for the first time.

The Malians are great poets and very romantic people. Soukara means night.

” My love it is night now, Wait for me my love. I love you. And I love the night. I like it when it is peaceful at night, Wait for me my love, it is night now. Just wait for me my darling”

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Categories: Africa, Mali, Sahel, West Africa | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Playing The Small Talking Drum

One day my bro Chris, aka Ccideron asked Cheick Fadel aka Fernandel, le bonne homme du Sahel: “What is that little drum called that you play under your armpit and that makes sounds like a human voice ? “

The question had just been asked and immediately a jamming/drumming/smoking/tea-drinking session was organized with one of the best musicians in Nara. Fernandel knew them all of course.

Making Music at Cheick Fadel’s home

It is called a  Tamani, said Fernandel, the small talking drum. And Ccideron got hooked on it.

Right away !

Ccideron at work


The talking drum (aka dondo, adondo, atumpan, or gan gan) is a drum where the pitch can be varied, like a timpani. Like many drums, the talking drums have been used for communicating in Africa.

When the drum is squeezed under the arm and played, one can produce the intonations of human speech. The drum originated in West Africa. These drums add a beautiful dynamic to music. It is a symbol of joy and unity for the Malian people.

The expert

But as always, TALK IS INDEED CHEAP. When it comes to playing the small talking drum it takes a little bit more than squeezing your armpit to produce the desired sound.

Africa has a rich musical tradition with a wide variety of instruments, many of them ancient and long associated with oral tradition, storytelling and improvisation. For centuries, Africa has produced a wide variety of different drums, idiophones, string instruments and more. Many African musicians can play more than one instrument with equal skill. Yeap!

And so did he !

Long and intense sessions

These sessions ( we had many of them ) were intense and long and the participants got exhausted from all the music talk.

Luckily a tea maker was always part of the team and frequent breaks, dedicated to sipping the dark and bitter sweet  Arab tea, helped the band to recover again and again. And of course the beds, chairs and divans under Fernandel’s ” Hangar” came in handy as well. Sometimes you just have to get into a comfortable position and the world looks bright again.

Dark, bitter and sweet is real nice!

Fact is everything can be turned into art if you put your heart into it, if it is making music or making tea – it’s just the same. It is art. Looking at the two, you would not believe that there was no alcohol involved!

Ccideron and Fernandel

Music until the moon came up – and then through the night!

Until the moon comes up

Categories: Africa, Nara, People, Sahel, Tradition, West Africa | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Mousoolou – Women And Life

Women in a meeting in Keybane Soninke sitting on traditional wood carved stools

” Muso ” is the word in the Bambara language for woman.

Salif Keita, the famous Malian Griot with a voice from another world, has written a song ” Moussooloo”, a brilliant tribute to the women of Mali and to all the women of this world. I heard this song for the first time during my stay in Mali. Since then the melody and the words have stayed with me. Driving through the villages and seeing the mothers occupied with their daily work, was like seeing the song taking on form in front of my eyes instead of hearing it.

Africa is the mother of all nations and in this song he salutes the mother of all mother’s. Salif Keita sings about our mother’s and that we have to honor them and not to forget to visit them. That is important, because they do miss us.

We have to visit them soon because we do not understand the extent of our suffering yet to come if they are gone. Visit them soon is the message. Honor them and value them in their life time.

In Nara and the surrounding villages, women and men never joined projects meetings together. Things were discussed separately. When we had a meeting with the women of a village to discuss a topic with them that concerned their lives, an elder would sit with us and listen attentively to what was said, so that he could communicate the outcome to the men later.

A decision would only be made once the men had been informed and asked for their opinion. Although this seemed to foreigners often like a supressive tactic, the women had enormous power in their family and in their home.

Categories: Africa, Nara, Tradition, women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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