Sunday, 1 May 2016

GUINEE - Musique du Fouta-Djalon (CD, 1988)

Came along this song:

  • N’Djaba (The Person I Love) by Bina Koumaré & Madou Diabate
    from 'Every Song Has Its End: Sonic Dispatches from Traditional Mali' (2016, Glitterbeat)
That reminded me about an album I have from Guinee, which I put on my list to post, but still didn't come to that:
It's music by griots of (mostly) the Fouta-Djalon, the mountainous region in mid-north Guinee, inhabited mostly by the Fulbe people. In 1993/94 when I visited Guinee, I wanted to see more than only Conakry, so one early morning I took the bus from Conakry to Labe, distance by road some 400km meaning ca.12hr by bus, first east to Mamou and then up north to Labe, the capital of the Fouta-Djalon region. The town had a pleasant atmosphere, less hectic than in Conakry, a for me better climate, less humid, only the corruption seemed at the same infuriating level, but let's not get into that. The scenery around Labe in the Fouta-Djalon is quit spectacular with mountains, hanging bridges over the many small rivers and impressive waterfalls (see picture on cover of Map of Guinee). So enjoyed some trips around the town and surroundings.
For some time I had the feeling that my hair had grown a little too long, and a good haircut would be most welcome. In Conakry I had looked around already, but all I saw there were closed barber shops, which from the outside couldn't be jugded and you really needed to go inside to check them out. Well that's not what I wanted to do: when inside and you don't like the place, it could be a real hassle to get out of it. So when roaming through Labe I noticed a nice small open barber shop, and decided it's now or never. Asked the barber what it would cost, after the usual bargaining we agreed to a price and he started his job on my head. In the meantime locals had seen that a white man got his hair cut, which was very unusual, so got quit some public around the shop (see picture). After some time even a man with a flute came and started blowing some nice music, while the barber was still cutting my hair.

got my hair cut in Labe, great interest by the locals
Now I still imagine that this musician is one of the griots from Labe, who are playing some tracks on the subject of this post, the album "Musique du Fouta-Djalon".Unfortunately it is not clear when the music on this album was really recorded, not mentioned on disc nor booklet, only one thing is sure that is must be before 1988, when it was released in France through the PlayaSound label.

Now listen to Tambiru et Gnegneru (flute and tablas) by Griots from LABE

GUINEE - Musiques du Fouta-Djalon (CD, 1988)

Full tracklist, info and scans inluded in the download.
Note: actually not all tracks are from Fouta-Djalon, 2 are from Wassou in the coastal region Basse-Guinée and 2 other are from Guinée Forestière in the south-east of Guinée, but the remaining other 16 tracks are recordings of griots from LABE and PITTA (aka Pita, a small town some 40 km south of Labé)

Background info about Fouta-Djalon:

Some other Fouta-Djalon (related) music:

  • Koubia Jazz - Commissaire Minuit (5:40, 1987, Syliphone-4-022-03)
    Graeme Counsel: "Hailing from Melikansa, near Pita in the Fouta Djallon heartland, comes this troupe of Fulbé musicians. Featuring the button accordion, an instrument that was very popular in the region (e.g. Amadou Barry, “Petit Moussa” Diawara), the group are led by Yero Boye Diallo. After the death of Sékou Touré in 1984, Fulbé music made a resurgence in Guinea, and Koubia Jazz encapsulate that spirit."
  • Binta Laaly Sow - 56 (5:01, rec.1986, Syliphone-4-581-09)
    Graeme Counsel: "The most popular Fulbé female vocalist in Guinea. Outside of Guinea very little is known about this artist, or about the song she performs - “56”. It was widely performed by Guinean musicians."
  • Farba Tela - Niina (7:52, 1979, Syliphone-3-097-2)
    Graeme Counsel: "An analysis of Syliphone vinyl recordings reveals that just 3% were of Fulbé music, yet the Fulbé accounted for 40% of Guinea’s population. Evidence of the marginalisation of the Fulbé under Sékou Touré’s regime, it also meant that music such as this and that of Binta Laaly Sow etc was never heard outside of Guinea. Farba Tela, real name Oumar Seck, is the featured vocalist here and he also played the guitar and hoddu. Farba Tela was Guinea’s most popular Fulbé musician - an amazing talent who creates an intensity akin to that of Ali Farka Touré, who was an admirer."
  • SAMBA GELADIO by Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté on 'Ali and Toumani' -  (listen at webpulaaku)
    from liner notes: "In the studio we asked Ali, “Is there another Peul song that you haven’t recorded before?” And he played around on the guitar and came up with this. That’s how a lot of the songs were chosen, on the spot. Samba Geladio (aka ‘Samba Gueladio Diégui’) was a Peul prince from the Fouta region of West Africa. After the death of his father, King Fonkobo, Samba Geladio was involved in a bitter struggle with his uncle Konkobo and his half-brothers for his share of the kingdom. These events apparently took place in the 17th century and have become the subject of an epic tale of heroism, which is often recited by the griots to musical accompaniment, with plenty of magical and mystical enhancements."

Travel info about Fouta-Djalon:

Need your Hair Cut in GUINEE
Best Go to the Lovely LABE!!


  1. Thank you very much for guiding me to Bina Koumaré, authentic music Bambara, pity I have not gotten to know the name of the singer.
    No wonder the lack of information, Paul Chandler is a strange guy, first he collect treasures in Malian folklore, while producing its artists from Mali, giving them World Music type style.
    Bina Koumaré.

    1. =>NGONI
      Do you may be know any names of songtitles and musicians from the Fouta-Djalon CD I posted?

    2. =>mangue
      The Fouta-Djalon CD are field recordings of Fulah Nyamankala musicians, Fulah Nyamankala people share the same social stratum with griots, theyare perhaps the origin of the Griots, but are not Griots, because they do not transmit the story by the word .
      The niamankala are musicians acrobats that enliven the village festivals.
      It is difficult that their names were known, they are not invited to festivals, they come before, and create the party.

    3. =>NGONI
      Merci Beaucoup, Thanks a Lot!!
      Good background info (as always)!!

  2. =>NGONI
    Thanks for the video, unfortunately couldn't understand everything, my french is very basic only.
    On you can watch two more videos about Bina Koumare.

  3. Then there's this however, it isn't an acoustic recording.

  4. not sure about these 2 Buda releases, I do not have them but I guess they belong to the same thread: