Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali

On GLITTERBEAT RECORDS released April 1, 2016 Bamako-based producer/educator Paul Chandler has been documenting the sonic and cultural complexities of Malian traditional music for more than a decade and “Every Song Has Its End” is an out-of-time, visceral collection of sounds from Chandler’s unparalleled archive. Over the past few years, accompanied by a recording engineer […]


Musical Traditions in Mali The Full Playlist

This is a full playlist of the i4Africa series on Musical Traditions in Mali. The following ten vignettes are mini-documentaries about traditional music and dance in Mali in the words of practicing artists and musicians. This series was made possible by a grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation. A special thanks goes out […]

Musical Traditions in Mali | The Instrument of the Warrior Kings of Mandé

“In past times, I would not point this horsetail at a person who did not make blood flow.” The Bolon (Warrior’s harp) is the instrument of the Warrior Kings of Mandé. While other ethnic groups play a similar instrument, according to Ibrahim Traoré, he is the only person playing the Mandinka Bolon in Mali today. […]

Musical Traditions in Mali | Even at This Hour, There are Djinn in the Bush

The masks of Fadiobougou, In the cultural zone of Djitoumou, serve many purposes. For the Bambara, just hearing the word Djinn is terrifying. The masks imitate things found in the bush. After seeing the imitations, peoples knowledge of it can stop them from panicking. The experience can help you overcome your fear. In the fall, […]

Musical Traditions in Mali | Peace is Showing on the Horizon, But it is Still Far Off.

Tamasheq cultural group Ekanzam are from Menaka, Mali, in the region of Gao, and the cultural zone of Azawak. This area has been at the center of conflict in Mali. Affected by clashes between the Malian army and separatist rebels, and the recent occupation of jihadists and crime cartels, the Noir Kel Tamasheq make up […]

Musical Traditions in Mali | We are the Last Village to Play the Douga.

“When something’s time is over, it is lost. We are the last village that still plays the Douga. It is not played anywhere else. Is this not a change? Before it was done everywhere. If you never see this again, it’s because things have changed.” Finko Walama Diakité. Function of tradition: After the circumcision is […]

Musical Traditions in Mali | I Play the Simbi, and at the Same Time I'm Praying.

Sidikiba Coulibaly plays the simbi, the Mandinka hunter’s harp. “If the simbi dissapears, when there is not one simbi player left in Mande, it will mean the end of the Mande culture. The simbi gives Mande it’s reputation.” Function of Tradition: This Simbi is played for all major hunter’s ceremonies including initiations, deaths, and important […]

Musical Traditions in Mali | If You Play the New, You Must Start with the Old.

“All begins with the traditions, and all must end with the traditions.” Broulaye Doumbia has been playing djembe for the i4A children’s dance troupe since the project began several years ago. Instruments 4 Africa is seeking funding to keep children in school and provide them with a quality academic education and training in the traditional […]

Musical Traditions in Mali | Sigi Lé, Here Come the Wild Buffalo, Mask Dance.

“The sound of the djembe is sorcery.” Filmed in the cultural region of Wassoulou, our fourth short film features the Sigi, the wild buffalo mask from the village of Nioguebougoula, in the cercle of Yanfolila. Embedded in the songs, stories and ceremonies that are interpreted by artists and accompanied by traditional instruments, are lessons that […]