Balafon! Balafon! Balafon!
August 17, 2007 9:06 PM   Subscribe

Those of you in the Seattle area might want to check out Guinean balafonist Naby Camara. And here's a bit of a soul-jazzy take on things from Soukounian/African Music Experiment.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:08 PM on August 17, 2007

posted by gcbv at 9:34 PM on August 17, 2007

Just taking a breather to say I am loving this post, flapjax - another winner.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:45 PM on August 17, 2007

Let me be the 3,4,5,6,whatever to say that this is excellent
posted by growabrain at 10:17 PM on August 17, 2007

So are these players improvising, or what?
posted by Faze at 6:24 AM on August 18, 2007

Faze, there's certainly improvising going on, to varying degrees, in the different clips. Generally speaking, in lots of different traditional African music there are set pieces, which consist of certain melodies and patterns, within which players are generally expected to improvise. I think the improvisation often falls well within certain relatively predetermined parameters, though exactly what these are I wouldn't be qualified to elucidate.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2007

I picked up a copy of the Balafon Marimba Ensemble a while back and it's some of the happiest music in the world.

I'll be adding some of these to the ipod.
posted by unsupervised at 7:13 AM on August 18, 2007

Thanks for this!
posted by languagehat at 7:14 AM on August 18, 2007

posted by kozad at 8:26 AM on August 18, 2007

I haven't been able to find very much Burmese saing waing on the web, but here's some. The full ensemble often sounds like total chaos to Western ears. The tuned drum circle is the pat waing, and the squealy oboish thing is the hne (the Burmese version of the Indian shanai). This guy is an excellent pat waing player.
posted by rodii at 8:27 AM on August 18, 2007

posted by agent99 at 5:47 AM on August 19, 2007

Thanks for the comments, y'all.

Hey rodii, y'know, I've heard recordings of Burmese Saing Waing, and have always been pretty intrigued by it, but had never sought out any video, so that was a real eye opener, thanks for that. And though they are using mostly tuned drums (pretty amazing in itself), the sound of those drums is somewhat reminiscent of the sound of the balafon, so I guess I can see why you posted this here in a balafon thread. Of course, rhythmically and structurally, it's pretty different from the balafon music of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, etc., as one might expect from a country a few thousand miles away! Especially once those splashy gongs and horns kick in, right around the end of the clip it starts to feel real Asian, real fast, echoes of China and all, and very far removed from West African musical aesthetics.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:31 AM on August 19, 2007

Nice links people!

Marimbas also have a few interesting numbers as well as the belafon. is a useful resource!
posted by asok at 3:54 AM on August 20, 2007

Hey, cool links, asok! I really dig the Neba Solo stuff, that's some sweet music. I hadn't heard of him, but Mali has some of my very favorite artisis and styles. Amazing fountain of musical culture, that dusty, landlocked country! Thanks so much for the links.

BTW, please note you are misspelling the word: that's balafon. Check the site you linked to!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:24 AM on August 20, 2007

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