Music always finds a way...
July 21, 2015 9:41 AM   Subscribe

The Banjo Bands of Malawi is a video clip featuring three different performances of a certain strain of folk music from the small African nation. Totally raw and homemade instruments are employed in the service of urgent, percussive music (some of it a bit reminiscent of bluegrass) topped off by tight harmony vocals. What's not to like?
posted by flapjax at midnite (19 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
 
holy fuck, this is good.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:52 AM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Great post, thanks. I'm intrigued by the instrument you can see in the back in the first clip, I'm wondering how it's used as I don't see strings but he's using a metal slide. I'm not sure if it's the same type of instrument in the second clip that's on the ground and he's playing it kind of like a pedal steel but again I can't see strings. Is it more percussive, like it's used more like a drum than guitar? Anyway, loved this a lot.
posted by billiebee at 9:56 AM on July 21, 2015


or to be less waffly, what Greg Nog said...
posted by billiebee at 9:57 AM on July 21, 2015


For lots of great music from Africa and elsewhere try the fRoots free monthly podcast. Eighty minutes of the best world, folk and blues from Britain's leading roots music mag.
posted by Paul Slade at 10:01 AM on July 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


They make the harmony singing sound so easy.
posted by fritley at 11:06 AM on July 21, 2015


This is great. In this same vein: I've always really, really loved this song from Malawian Gasper Nali.
posted by joechip at 11:08 AM on July 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Awesome. Thanks for posting this.

billiebee: If I had to guess, it may be the case that the string action on the bass-like instrument he's playing is so high that the strings can't be fully depressed to the finger board to play a note, hence the slide.

Or maybe it's because the scale of the neck/position of the player is such that it's easier to reach up with the slide to intonate the note?

Just guessing here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 11:12 AM on July 21, 2015


It's pretty hard to be in a bad mood while listening to that first track, and I'm a pro at bad moods.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:13 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is great, thanks for this post. Musicing is a fundamental, ancient human activity, and I love the endless ingenuity we seem to have in the medium.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:18 AM on July 21, 2015


Wow, I've been looking for amazing bangy-stringy folk music, and here it is!
posted by swift at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2015


This is great, thank you for sharing! (And not to get too heavy, but, in the broader historical context of the banjo's African origins and eventual appropriation from slaves by white Americans, it could perhaps more fairly be said that some bluegrass is a bit reminiscent of this music!)
posted by usonian at 12:20 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh man joechip that was GREAT.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:34 PM on July 21, 2015


holy fuck, this is good.

No kidding!
posted by Dip Flash at 7:44 PM on July 21, 2015


This is great. In this same vein: I've always really, really loved this song from Malawian Gasper Nali.

Made a Mefi post on that very clip back in May!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:42 PM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is great, thank you for sharing! (And not to get too heavy, but, in the broader historical context of the banjo's African origins and eventual appropriation from slaves by white Americans, it could perhaps more fairly be said that some bluegrass is a bit reminiscent of this music!)

Absolutely well aware of the African origins of the American banjo! :) So, by "reminiscent", I was simply referring to modern musical memory and recognition of musical styles, not to suggest any kind of *which came first* sort of idea.

Regarding the African roots of the banjo, here's a Mefi post I put together on that subject back in 2008: The banjo's great great grandaddy.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:52 PM on July 21, 2015


Massive thanks to mods for sidebarring this post, which I somehow missed!
posted by Celsius1414 at 11:03 AM on July 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, sidebarred, eh? Of the hundreds of posts I've made on this site, this particular single-link YouTube gets a sidebar? Hey, I ain't complainin' or nuthin', it's just... the mods move in mysterious ways, is all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:51 AM on July 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


What percussion instrument is the guy on the left playing? It looks straight out of Star Trek.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:42 AM on July 26, 2015


In March I saw Malawi Mouse Boys at Womadelaide 2015. They were great.
posted by thaths at 3:47 PM on July 31, 2015


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