I want to share an amazing musical experience (one of very few so far) that I participated in on friday. At school (aka the SIT building where we take classes. Please note that we are on the fifth floor of a building being built as we study, oh Senegal!) we had a group of musicians come and speak to us about traditional Senegalese instruments, as well as perform.
These musicians are some of the top in Senegal, and many if not all of them have traveled to the US on tours and such. The man on the left is playing the Kora, an instrument very similar to the harp in that you need to change the levers to change keys. He is a professor of the Kora, and also performs with rap and other musical groups. The woman sitting behind him is the dancer. Dancing is integral to traditional Senegalese music, even the musicians dance as they play! Next to her is one of the Djembe performers. Next is the added drum player for effect (I believe he is also playing a Djembe, but I’m not positive). Finally there is the main Djembe performer, who gives world tours and is considered a grand master of the Djembe. These performers played each of their instruments individually, and then did a jam session together, it was so wonderful to hear traditional music, especially by such talented performers. There was one more performer who played the Tamma (Talking Drum), but he is not in the first picture because he was late (Not uncommon, time is not at the fore-front of anyone’s mind here), but here is a close up of how you play the instrument.
It’s very loud, and when he does a solo, it almost looks like he is a male bird, trying to engage the females in his loud song and dance. While they were performing, the dancer in would be in front doing a traditional dance of sorts. Really, I hope that this is NOT the dance we will be learning, because it is a little bit challenging.The way she moved her body was very fast, almost like she was jumping around doing a very intense workout. This experience really highlighted for me how much dance and music are interrelated here, and there is no way to separate the two. We did try some moves ourselves during this session, it was a great way to relieve some excess energy!