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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:POYI! Bamana 'jeli' music, Mali and the blues
Author:Durán, LucyISNI
Year:2013
Periodical:Journal of African Cultural Studies (ISSN 1369-6815)
Volume:25
Issue:2
Pages:211-246
Language:English
Geographic term:Mali
Subjects:traditional music
Bambara
griots
culture contact
Link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13696815.2013.792725
Abstract:The search for the African roots of the blues has long been a subject of fascination to writers, scholars and musicians, with Mali taking an increasingly central role in the popular imagination as the missing link in the blues' DNA. Many Malian artists have found their music being labelled by journalists and record companies with such tags as 'Mali Blues', 'Desert Blues' and 'Bambara Blues', in recognition of the strong stylistic similarities with the Delta Blues in particular. But which way around did the influences travel? A crucial piece to the puzzle is a Bamana 'jeli' (griot) song called 'Poyi', which, according to oral tradition, may have been the last tune that war captives of the empire of Segu (1712-1861) heard, before being taken into slavery. This article explores the complex trajectory of the trans-Atlantic conversations between the blues and Mali, by focusing on one musical tradition that has so far been ignored in scholarly studies of both blues and Mande music - that of the Bamana ('Bambara') griots from Segu in the middle Niger valley, with their trademark lute, the 'ngňniba'. Drawing both on extensive academic research carried out on Mande music, and on long practical experience of working as music producer of Mande artists, the article argues that Bamana music could well be a strong contender for the 'roots of the blues'. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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