Gnawa Music

Gnawa Sidi Mimoun
Gnawa Sidi Mimoun
Gnawa is a term used to define both a Moroccan music style and a Muslim religious brotherhood that invokes God and many prophets. The patron saint of the Gnawa is Bilal al Habashi, an Ethiopian who was the first African to convert to Islam and Prophet Mohammed’s first muezzin (caller to prayer). The Gnawa also recognize and respect all Muslim saints.

The origin of Gnawa music originally comes from West Africa, south of the Sahara. Over 500 years ago, slavery, conscription and trade brought people from West Africa to North Africa, which was then Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Mauritania. When they got to the north, they brought their music with them which was called Gnawa. Since these different groups all played the same type of music, they call themselves the Gnawa people. Gnawa song texts contain many references to the privations of exile and slavery.Gnawa music is based on pentatonic melodies and the syncopated rhythms led by the propulsive drive of a bass lute called sintir, metal castanets known as karkabas (also known as k’rkbs and qaraqeb) and chanting.

The Gnawa are most visible as entertainers. Each afternoon on Jamaa el-Fna, the large entertainment town square in Marrakech, groups of Gnawa perform acrobatic dances to the accompaniment of large side drums (tbel or ganga) and the karkabas. The sound of the drums also rousts any spirits (jnun) that may have settled in the neighborhood.

p>Gnawa music is very powerful spiritual music and it is primarily used for healing. The Gnawa carry out trance ceremonies (derdeba) in order to heal people who are very sick. The goal may be to purge an evil spirit that has brought the illness, infertility, stress or some other affliction or the purpose may be to prolong a positive relationship with a spirit that has brought prosperity, good fortune, or some other baraka (blessing).

The derdeba is performed all night long in order to carry out the healing and purification. The musicians and devotees warm up for the derdeba with entertainment music played on the sintir. When they are ready to begin the ceremony, all the participants gather outside, in front of the house where the derdeba is to take place. The drums and karkabas announce to neighbors and spirits alike that the derdeba is about to begin. The crowd then walks back inside the house in a candlelight procession. The m’allem (lead musician or maestro) again plays the sintir, and the group sings and plays a series of songs to dedicate the robes to be worn during the ceremony, while the other participants share dates and milk.

The complete ceremony includes seven sections, each controlled by a different saint or family of spirits. Each section is associated with clothing of a particular color. The ritual sends some of the participants into a trance or a spirit may first possess a devotee, and then express through the dancer’s mouth its desire for the appropriate tune. The trance state is accelerated by the proper combination of spices and incense that must be burned, and the dancer must be dressed in the spirit’s preferred color.

A complete derdeba may last all night, well past dawn on the following day. As the trance ceremony ends, the musicians return to lighter music to relax the spectators.

Gnawa Artists

Click here to find out about Gnawa artists that you can find on our Web site. For Moroccan artists in general, click on Morocco.


Gnawa Web sites


Discography:

Essaouira, festival gnaoua (Créon Music, 2003)

Héritage musical des gnaoua d’Essaouira (Sono Disc, 2002)

Hadra des gnaoua d’Essaouira (Ocora, 2003)

Trance: Balinese Barong, Gnawa Music of Morocco, Zkir from Chinese Turkestan – The Musical Expeditions Series/Audio CD and Book (Ellipsis Arts). Compiled by David Lewiston.

Bibliography:

Hell, Bertrand. Le tourbillon des génies, au Maroc avec les gnaoua. Published by Flammarion, France, 2002. Pages : 371.
ISBN : 208211581X.

Chlyeh, Abdelhafid. Les gnaouas au Maroc. Published by le Fennec- la Pensée Sauvage, 1998. ISBN : 9981-838-85-3.

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Introduction to Ghazal

Westerners have become increasingly familiar with the classical music of India since it first became fashionable in the 1960s. But the Persian tradition, without a Beatles/Ravi Shankar collaboration to promote it, has remained a mystery, although it is becoming more recognized.Several centuries of Mogul rule in northern India left a strong imprint on Hindustani music: a result of the mysticism, poetry, and musical subtleties of the Persian language and culture.

The name Ghazal reflects that link: in the Persian tradition, a ghazal is a specific genre of poetry, characterized by an unusual blend of ecstatic spirituality and very earthy desires. In India, ghazal has evolved into a form of semi-classical music that remains popular to this day, and usually takes the form of a love ballad. In both cases, the imagery of the texts often obscures the difference between spiritual and physical love. Desire for a lover can be described in such exalted terms that it transcends the purely physical aspects of love. While these poems and ballads can be serious artistic and spiritual endeavors, they also reflect a sense of play – almost daring the audience to determine whether it’s really what it appears on the surface, and suggesting that spiritual and romantic love are two sides of the same coin.

(Excerpted from the liner notes by John Schaefer from “Moon Rise on the Silk Road” by the ensemble Ghazal. Courtesy of the World Music Institute)

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Welsh Music

Crasdant
Crasdant
A revival of traditional folk music and a renewed interest in the use of its native Welsh (Cymreag) language took place in Wales in the 1970s. With the help of local media and record companies like
Sain, artists who represent the Welsh tradition and language can now get exposure.

One of the most influential musicians in Wales is Robin Huw Bowen, a virtuoso of the triple harp. He researched the music
and techniques of the old Welsh harpists by studying their old manuscripts. Huw Bowen has performed extensively around the globe, as a soloist and also as a member of the Welsh folk groups
Crasdant and Cusan Tán.The most famous Welsh language singer is Siân James. In addition to her solo career, James also performs with dub reggae and rock groups. On the traditional folk side, Calennig’s dance music stands out. The group is led by Pat Smith and Mick Tems. Their repertoire includes Welsh, Galician and Breton tunes. Other Welsh folk acts that stand out are Julie Murphy, Heather Jones and Hin Deg.

One of the most exciting new groups in the modern folk style is Carreg
Lafar
. Welsh-Breton band Bob Delyb a’r Ebillion leans closer to rock. An interesting release
was Hen Wlad Fy Mamau (“Land of My Mothers”). It is a world beat collection of re-mixed Welsh folk music, samples and electronic sounds featuring Welsh singers Siân James, Lowri Ann Richards, June Campbell Davies and Elinor BennettPunjabi rapper Harvinder Sangha and African dub collective Zion Train.

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Classical Persian Music

Classical Persian music is an ancient art form and one of the earliest musical traditions known today. Because of the geographic location and sociopolitical role of the ancient Persian empire, Persian music and culture has contributed enormously to the foundation of many other musical traditions in Central Asia, Asia Minor, China and North India. Since becoming associated with Islamic culture after the Arab invasion (7th century AD), it has traveled throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean.

The classical music of Iran is in some ways similar and analogous to the classical musics of the Arabic world, Turkey and even India, but it is also a self-contained system more or less independent of its neighbors. In the twelfth century, a second system, that of Western classical music, has grown up parallel to that of the Persian art , and today the two coexist, largely leaving each other alone but in various ways cross-fertilizing each other.

The term "maqam," as a modal entity, for the first time appeared in a Persian musical treatise, i.e. the music section of Durrat al-Taj by Qutb al-Din Shirazi, in the 13th century. This concept with its nominal variants (maqam, makam, maqom, mugham, etc.) has dominated many musical cultures in the Islamic world, from Chinese Turkistan and Kashmir to Turkey and the Arab world. Although it has been the main modal concept (along with other modal entities such as avaza/avaze and shu’ba/sho’be and later gushe) in Persian music for a long time, seemingly around the late Safavid period (ruled 1502-1736) and afterwards gradually a new concept, the dastgah, was introduced to Iranian music.

The history of Persian music in the twentieth century has seen the development of strategies for survival in the face of Western music, and these strategies often involved borrowing from those elements in which Western music is strong. For example, Western notation has been adapted to Persian music and while it has done its share to change the character of Persian music, it has also increased the degree to which Iranian music students are willing to learn their tradition.

Persian music is mainly melodic. It makes almost no use of harmony, and its performance is most typically solo, although sometimes a soloist is accompanied by an instrument which echoes and recapitulates each phrase as the artist performs it, a technique also widely used in Arabic, Turkish and Indian music. Its essence is neither the dramatic nor is it the intellectual or cerebral, but rather its quality is mystical and contemplative. Persian musicians recognize this, for in speaking of their music they never fail to relate it to the great lyrical tradition of Persian literature and to Sufism, the mystical movement of Islam whose special home is Iran.

Much of the music has no meter, no beat, but proceeds with a rhythm akin to that of speech. Its rhythmic structure is surely related to the rhythms of Persian poetry. Nevertheless, there is also a great deal of metric music, and this, normally accompanied by a drum.

Improvisation is the most important tenet of classical music of Iran. The musician creates in the moment and simultaneously performs for the audience. The presence and spirit of the audience plays an important role in the feeling and the creative process of the improvisation. The improviser combines creativity and technique with the internalized melodies and rhythms to express his or her individual feelings. To become an improviser is to reach the ultimate stage in the musician’s creative development. To reach such a level of mastery the musician must be rich in technique, emotions, innovation, experience and knowledge. The musician becomes a master once he or she has achieved such a level of virtuosity and has cultivated the art of performance and teaching.

The collection of melodies in Persian classical music called Radif is organized into twelve modes. Seven larger ones called dastgahs (Mahour, Shour, Nava, Rast Panj-gah, Homayoun, Segah, Chahargah) and five smaller sub-sets to these called avaz or maqam (Abu-Ata, Bayat-E-Zand or Bayat-E-Tork, Dashti, Afshari, Bayat-E-Isfahan). Each of these modes are divided into smaller melodic forms called gushehs, which vary in terms of meter, length, expression and importance.

Each dastgah is thought to have a specific character and mood. The material of the dastagh is, then, the basis for actual performance. During the early part of the twentieth century, a model for what might be called a complete performance evolved. It consists of five parts, all cast in one dastgah, but, in fact, not all of them need appear and it is quite common to hear one or two of them used alone. These five pieces are: pishdaramad, chahar mezrab, avaz, tasnif, and reng.

The Radif is memorized by musicians and students, which is how the repertoire has been preserved throughout the ages. The Radif also serves as a musical vehicle to teach, and as a reference point for improvisation.

[This article is partially based on texts by the World Music Institute in New York and Hooman Asadi, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology, Director of the Ethnomusicology Program, Music Department, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Tehran].

Recommended recordings:

Bibliography:

Classical Persian Music (Radif) (Paperback) by Freydoon Arbabi. Publisher: Freydoon Arbabi (December 12, 2000).
ISBN: 0971840806.

Traditional Persian Art Music: The Radif of Mirza Abdullah (Bibliotheca Iranica – Performing Arts Series , No 3) (Hardcover) by Dariush Tala’I. Bibliotheca Persica; Bk&CD edition (August 1, 1999). ISBN: 1568590393.

Classical Persian Music: An Introduction (Hardcover) by Ella Zonis. Harvard University Press (January 1, 1973).
ISBN: 0674134354.

Music and Song in Persia: The Art of Avaz (Persian Art and Culture) (Hardcover) by Lloyd Miller. University of Utah Press (October 1999). ISBN: 0874806143.

Mystical Dimensions of Islam. Annemarie Schimmel. University of North Carolina Press (June 1975). ISBN: 0807812714.

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History of the Celts

Who Were the Celts?

Ancient Greek historians, like Herodotus (400 BC) and Hecataeus of Miletus (500 BC), wrote about the Keltoi, a group of Iron Age “barbarian”tribes with a common language and culture that inhabited vast territories of Europe. The Keltoi’s dominion stretched from Ireland and the western Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) in the west to Bohemia (Czech Republic), Bavaria (Germany) and Austria in the east. The Celts were a mixture of western Indo-European peoples who created vivid ornamental art and spoke a language described by the Romans as Celtic. Their social power structure included warlords and priests known as druids. They lived in hill towns made to defend populated areas from other warring Celtic tribes. With the arrival of the Roman Empire, Celtic civilization nearly disappeared. Most of western Europe, except Ireland, was Romanized.

The Celts in Ireland

In Ireland, the Celts prospered. Ireland was linguistically untouched for many centuries, protected by the sea which made it inconvenient and inaccessible to Roman invaders. It was also unique in being the only western European country, with the exception of the Viking north, to which Christianity came without the Roman conquest. Old pagan festivals like Bealtaine, Samhan and Lughnasa, became saints’ days. From the 8th through 10th century, Vikings raided and set up colonies in eastern Ireland. Later came the Norman invaders and the English, who subdued Ireland and suppressed its Gaelic language until the early 20th century.

The Celts in the British Isles

With the arrival of the Romans, the Celts in the British Isles were pushed to inaccessible regions. Celtic traditions and language were maintained in the remoter parts of Great Britain: Cornwall, western Wales and the Highlands of Scotland. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Great Britain was conquered by northern Germanic tribes: Angles, Saxons and Jutes, in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.

The Celts in the Iberian Peninsula

Most Celts settled in the northwestern Iberian peninsula (Galicia, Asturias, Tras-os-Montes). In other parts of western Iberia they became known as Celtiberians. Far from home, they mixed with the local population. It took two centuries for the Romans to subdue Iberian Celts because of widespread guerrilla fighting. In the end, most of Spain and Portugal were Romanized and Latin replaced all pre-Roman languages except Basque. When the Roman Empire fell, most of Spain and Portugal were conquered by the Visigoths, except Galicia where a Germanic tribe known as the Sueves formed an independent kingdom. Galicia and Asturias in Spain and Tras-os-Montes in Portugal are currently the Iberian regions with deeper Celtic roots.

The Celts in France

The “barbarians”who inhabited France during the Roman invasion were known as Gauls, a Celtic culture. The Celts, who were already a mixture of peoples, mingled with the conquered population. With Romanization, the Celtic language disappeared from France. After the Romans, Franks and Burgundians took over most of France, including Brittany. The Breton language was re-imported from the British Isles in the 6th and 7th century when Celts from Wales colonized the region. It was a re-Celtization of Brittany, ethnically and culturally.

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Celtic Music

Celtic_Patterns_2-smallIt’s difficult to know what the music of the ancient Celts really sounded like. What we know as Celtic music today is really the traditional music developed recently in several western European Atlantic regions that used to be inhabited by Celtic tribes over 2,000 years ago. This common heritage, in addition to centuries of trade and interaction, has created strong cultural bonds.

The great Celtic music renewal took place in the 1970’s thanks to various influential artists. Breton musician Alan Stivell introduced the Celtic harp to large audiences. Gwendal, also from Brittany, toured Europe extensively for two decades with its blend of Celtic music, jazz and rock. Scottish seminal band Silly Wizard played some of the finest Scottish music and created a school of followers. Irish groups like Plantxy and The Bothy Band attracted worldwide attention with their concept of Irish folk music. In Galicia, singer and harp player Emilio Cao, the now legendary group Milladoiro and the influential Vigo School of Bagpipes initiated the amazing Galician Celtic renaissance.

Thanks to the proliferation of Inter-Celtic festivals since the 1970’s, musicians from Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Galicia, Asturias, and other locations, have exchanged tunes, musical instruments and participated in mutual recordings. The Celtic reawakening has brought the recovery of the hurdy gurdy in Brittany and Galicia, the Celtic harp in most Celtic regions and a new found respect for the bagpipe.

The major European centers of Celtic music today are Ireland, Scotland, Brittany (France), Galicia (Spain), Asturias (Spain) and Wales (Great Britain). Other smaller regions with a strong Celtic music heritage are: Cornwall (Great Britain), Northumbria (Great Britain), Trás-os-Montes (Portugal) and the Isle of Man (Great Britain). Outside Europe, the music from the Irish, Scottish and Galician diaspora has found a comfortable home in eastern Canada, the United States of America, Argentina and Australia.

Celtic music today has crossed over into the pop mainstream thanks to artists like Afro Celt Sound System, Enya, Altan, Loreena McKennit, The Chieftains, Ashley McIsaac, Connie Dover, and to the new age market by way of numerous compilations and concept albums.

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Merlefest 2003

merlefest_large-250Wilkesboro, USA – Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2003, the largest bluegrass music festival in the United States. This is the 16th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson. The festival takes place on the Wilkes Community College campus in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, on April 24 – 27, 2003.

Artists joining Doc Watson and Merle’s son Richard Watson for MerleFest 2003 will include Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Emmylou Harris, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, Laura Love Band, Asleep at the Wheel, Leahy, Donna the Buffalo, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Bush Band, Vassar Clements, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Guy Clark, Hot Rize, Don Edwards, Paul Geremia, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Patrick Sweany, Tony Rice, Tim O’Brien, Del McCoury Band, Etta Baker, the Whites, Norman & Nancy Blake, Eustace Conway, Lightnin’ Wells & Algia Mae Hinton, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Waybacks, and many others. Special performances will include Vassar’s 75th birthday jam, the Acoustic Blues Showcase, the Midnight Jam, and “Follow Me Back to the Fold: A Tribute to Women in Bluegrass.”

Those with Internet access may acquire their tickets easily by visiting www.merlefest.org and, if purchasing assigned seats at the Watson Stage, actually pick their seat location on line. Those without Internet access may purchase tickets by calling 1-800-343-7857 (US only) or 336-838-6267 (non-US) from 10 AM through 4 PM, EST, weekdays. Tickets may also be ordered by fax (336-838-6277) and mail (MerleFest; P.O. Box 120; Wilkesboro, NC 28697).

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Reves D’Oasis – Desert Blues 2

Reves D’Oasis – Desert Blues 2
Reves D’Oasis – Desert Blues 2 (Network 22.762, 2002)

The first volume of this series, 1996’s Ambiances du Sahara, was a sprawling treasure chest of music from the vast regions covered by the world’s largest desert. The critical praise it received was considerable, and the recently released second volume takes another bountiful trip around the same countries to come up with a further load of riches. Africa’s Saharan countries create music as enjoyable as it is subject to analysis- the likelihood of it being the basis of American blues, its Arabic roots, etc.

Desert Blues 2 starts off with strong selections from Majid Bekkas and Boubacar Traore, featuring melancholy guitars and vocals winding around nervously tapping percussion. Gradually, over the set’s two-disc length, the songs run a gorgeous course between bright and celebratory and solitary and very bluesy indeed. The same multiple facets as volume one are in evidence, along with the same balance of familiar and lesser-known names. Plenty of calabashes and n’goni lutes are heard, but there’s also bottleneck guitar spacing out alongside kora, Tuareg and Gnawa sounds that keep the journey a spiritual one, music that could’ve come from the Mississippi Delta if not for the growly non-English lyrics, ancient pentatonic scale riffs serviced by modern dance grooves and loads more of the same kind of diversity you’d expect to come from and area roughly the size of the U.S.

A fair number of the songs are by women, and the set is also reflective of their artistic emergence from certain countries and cultures where their role has been secondary. There’s a lot going on here, and anyone who bought the first volume with the thought that there must be much more will find out how right they were. Reves D’Oasis will refresh and rejuvenate you like bountiful flowing water found in the midst of barren desolation. 

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The History of African American Music

The History of African American Music
By Yaya Diallo

When I saw this title, I was afraid and I’m still afraid regarding my opinion about the subject. The subject is complex and difficult so I cannot resolve it overnight. I am an African. I do things the African way. I cannot write about African American music like a Western scholar. In my culture we live the past and the future in the present. When I listen to some African American music I can feel the past, the present and the future all at the same time. Now, the best way for me to handle this subject is to work by questions and answers.

Q: Yaya! Who do you think you are?

A: I don’t think! I am Farafin, which means I am a dark skin man. The word Africa is the Arabic name for our continent. In Bambara we call the so-called “Africa” Farafina. Farafina means the land of dark skin people. I am from Farafina and I am proud of it. I don’t want to be somebody else. People in general say African American. I would say American Farafin, which means dark skin human being who lives in America. Q: What is your African background?

A: I come from far away. I was born in 1946 in Fienso (French Sudan), now Mali. My parents were nomadic. When I was very young I used to travel a lot. I grew up in the bush far from any western civilization. The music that I heard was very traditional and played live. I did not have a radio or TV. I had the opportunity to listen to the music of the different ethnic groups from the Ivory Coast, Burkina and Ghana. In some villages I heard Muslim songs coming from the mosques. By night, I would enjoy the frog symphonic orchestras. From 1946 to 1960 I was living in complete nature. My musical training is a long story but you can learn more from my book The Healing Drum.

Q: What are your feelings about the civilized world?

A: In the city I had strange feelings. I saw people listen to music through what I thought was two kinds of boxes. The first was a radio. You could change the singer with the tuning button, I thought. The second needed records. It read 78, 45 and 33 1/2. You had to adjust everything with something but I did not have a clue as to what. Even still, the only music that I heard was the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Johnny Holliday.

Q: What do you think about the word African American?

A: Dark skin people living in America are not different from people I met in Africa (Farafina). To me they are just different ethnic groups like the Yoruba, the Bantu, the Zulu or the Tuareg. Africa is not one culture. We have thousands and thousands of languages and different music. My wife is an African American from Louisville, KY. Her mother is from Dark Corner, MS and her father from Jackson, TN. Like my wife and family there was one African American man, James Brown, who saved my life with his music.

Q: How can an African American man save the life of a traditional African?

A: In 1967 I left my country to go to Montreal, Canada. On my way, in Paris, I saw a big picture of James Brown in the Olympia Theater. In my mind I thought, “Oh! A black man in Olympia in Paris, France.” In Montreal I was looking for a place to dance or listen to the music that I loved. One day I found a radio station that played black music. I heard James Brown and felt at home.

Q: What do you think about African American music?

A: I always say that I don’t think, I feel. When we talk about African American music we talk about Spirituals, Blues, Funk, Jazz, Gospel, Rap, dance music, etc. I want to talk on each one by one.

When people in Canada were dancing the twist, jerk and go-go, in my country a French man named Johnny Holliday was playing bad versions of Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles’ music in French. In America I found out this French man was a robber. He stole the music, sang it in French and looked like a genius for us Africans.

Q: What did you feel when you started to dance?

A: I used to go out to dance to Wilson Pickett, James Brown and Sly and the Family Stone’s music. For me they were Africans. They had good beats, good feelings and most important, African Soul. I did not feel that from Chinese or European music. In the 70’s I discovered the Funk music, The O’Jays, Parliament, Ohio Players, Kool and the Gang and JR Walker and the All Stars. I felt I was at home when I knew the Motown Family (Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations and Stevie Wonder). I could survive because I had those kinds of musicians.

Q: In terms of music, what is the link between African and African Americans?

A: African Americans are Africans from the village and sadly they just don’t know it! When you listen to the music you can find out. Kool and The Gang played Funky Stuff. When you listen to the drum part you will get the Dounouba part of the dance Sounou. Sounou was played in the 15th century and today is the dance young people love. In Africa we learn the past in the present and teach it to the next generation. The African Americans sometimes do not know how African they are.

Q: Why can you say that they are African?

A: The first time I heard the Four Tops I thought I was listening to the Bambara Farmers in the evening after a hard working day. The Temptations reminded me of the men Fire dancers and singers. I can listen to the Temptations but I am afraid to see them. I am not initiated to the Fire dance and the music brings out memories about the secret ceremonies that happened afar in the village. Aretha Franklin is for me a great Djeli-mousso coming from the Empire of Mali in the 13th century. When I listen to African American music I don’t worry about the meaning, only what I feel.

Q: What do you think about Jazz?

A: Really, to tell the truth, I don’t feel jazz. Many people coming from Africa feel the same way. I learned about jazz in 1980 when I recorded my first album, Nangape, on Onzou Records. That opened the door for me with jazz. Jazz magazines like Cadence and Down Beat wrote articles on me like I was a “jazz man.” I was invited to do workshops at the Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, NY. I met big jazz names like Art Blakey. He said, “When I play with Yaya I feel comfortable, he’s the only African that I can play with and I don’t worry.” I completed a trio with Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell in the Symphony Space in New York.

Q: What about Gospel?

A: To me gospel means religion or church but my father-in-law changed my mind. When going to church with him I saw a big band and a big choir. People were singing and I forgot that I was in church. I was surprised; I saw ladies in a trance like in my village but they called it shouting. This reminded me of the Mania Secret Society where only woman go into a trance when praising god (See The Healing Drum).

Q: What is rap?

A: I love rap! I use to lie about buying rap and say that it was for my children. Rap is the old tradition of the Fulani people in Mali. It tells life stories through poetry that is recited quickly. Nomadic people have to explain their daily journey through this same quick form, but without the foul language. Today, the young people think that they have reinvented the wheel.

Q: Yaya, what is wrong with African American music today?

A: Today everything is easy. Instead of buying a drum set you buy a drum machine. Computers do everything. You can get almost every sound by pressing a button. This is the type of world that we live in today. The young Africans love it like we used to love James Brown. Time is the only thing that has changed!

Q: How did African American music change American Society?

A: We changed everything! We changed the style of dance; we created new sounds, new styles, and new way to dress…EVERYTHING! Country music is the white version of the Blues. Rock-n-roll comes from our music. People forget that Jimmie Hendricks was a Blues player that just changed his sound and look. Without James Brown, Sly and Family Stone and the Motown Family there would be no Madonna, no Celiene Dion, no techno, and no disco. African Americans brought this to the world. It is sad because people do not recognize it. We changed the world and it will never be the same again.

Q: How do people know you in America?

A: I am the author of two books, The Healing Drum and At the Threshold of the African Soul. I have four CDs, Nanagape, The Healing Drum, Dombaa Folee, and Dounoukan. I thank Onzou Records, the first company that trusted me to make my first album in 1980. That was not easy!

———-

This article is edited and submitted by Stephen Conroy, producer of Onzou Records, promoting the work of musician/author Yaya Diallo, a native of Mali, West Africa. The article originally published in Music Dish on March 1, 2003 was written in response to their call for articles to celebrate Black History Month.
Refer to Music Dish Article:
THE HISTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSIC
http://www.musicdish.com/mag/?id=7542

Notes:

Listen to Yaya Diallo’s acoustic instrumental album Nangape with African drums, balafon and flute music on New Music Canada.

Yaya Diallo CD Nangape online media kit with audio link:

http://mi2n.com/press.php3?press_nb=48715

www.onzou.com, Onzou Records, Yaya Diallo’s West African Music

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24th International Percussion Festival Percuba 2003

(Prensa Latina) Havana, Cuba – Well-known musicians from the United States, Mexico, Argentina and Venezuela and their Cuban colleagues will take part in the 24th International Percussion Festival Percuba 2003, April 15-19, announced Festival director Lino Neira. The official stated that instrumentalist Sammy Figueroa (Puerto Rico) -producer of musicians such as Quincy Jones and Phil Ramone (US)- as well as Autonomous University of Tamaulipas Professor Evaristo Aguilar (Mexico) who will perform in the show Ritmos de la Huasteca.

The Monterrey Percussion Ensemble (Mexico) -founded 10 years ago by Guillermo Villarreal, Alberto Murillo (Argentina), one of the most acclaimed instrumentalists in his country, and Fred Wickinson (United States), among others, will also attend. The Tuopali Duet (Spain) will arrive with its hit “Mestizaje,” a successful blend of native popular notes and its professional sound, with instruments ranging from the Jembe to the marimba. Another important participant will be the Venezuelan project “La Patria es el Hombre.”

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Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music