Though Mix Musik has its base in Sweden, it’s great to see that so many members come from all walks of life. So we figured, why not write a blog entry in english to spice it up? With only a week left to the concert, I thought it would be interesting to discuss the instruments that are typical in Mali music. So by the time the concert comes starts on Friday, everyone that already wasn’t, can be an expert on instruments!
As we know, the BKO Quintet consists of five members—Ibrahima Sarr on the djembe, Nfali Diakité on the donso ngoni, Abdoulaye Kone ngoni, Aymeric Krol who plays the strange drums, and ultimately Fassaro Sacko who sings.
So, how about a quick runthrough of the instruments we will be seeing next Friday? A djembe drum, is a skin convered drum played with bare hands which according to the Bamana people derives its name from the saying ”Anke dje, anke be”. The saying translates to ”everyone gather together in peace”, so basically it’s the drum of peace! The Djembe drum is traditionally only played by men, so it is quite rare even today to see a female djembe player.
A Donso ngoni or ”Hunter’s harp” is a six stringed instrument made of calabash with dried animal skin stretched over it. Usually it has been used for ceremonial purposes, but in recent years has become more prominent in popular music styles. They say that it has served as the inspiration for the banjo in North America!
The Kamele n’goni which means ’young persons harp’ originates from the 6 string donso n’goni. The N’goni is instrumental to hunter ceremonies where the hunters use it to taunt other hunters. It’s a popular instrument that is being used more and more outside of the strict hunter societies of Donso.
The Kora is the most heavily associated instrument to Mali music. It is a harp built from a large calabash cut in half covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck. It doesn’t actualy fit a specific category of instrument, but rather several! Typically it kora music was part of the oral tradition. Want to see some of these instruments in action? Check out this video from the Baobab festival last year!