Traditional / folk music of Senegal
Senegal is one of the most significant and leading country in the music of Africa. It is not a big country but it has huge number of musicians and their music is based on their traditional music. Senegal is a contradictory country, although the majority of country are Muslim, but the fundamentalism of Islam has not been into Senegal and Muslims of Senegal have a modern version of Islam. Islam came to Senegal through Morocco.
Senegal has a long history of human habitation and it was a land for many different ethnic groups. The first Europeans who arrived to Senegal was Portuguese and later other European nations including French, Dutch and Great Britain arrived. But French got the upper hand and then they started the slavery trade from Senegal and also introduce Christiany to Senegal. They didn't go inside the country for a long time, in 1850s they started to expand into mainland too. Senegal achieved its independence from French on 1959.
Baaba Mal, one of the most important and famous musicians of Senegal says: "The base of all music in Senegal is traditional." Maybe many of the music genres in the world, are influenced by folk music of Senegal. Like country blues, calypso, reggae, beguine and even rap.
One of the most important folk rhythms of Senegal, is Yela. During pre-colonial era, Senegalese empires used to call people for important events. It is also a traditional music performed by women. Today sound and rhythm of Yela (and also many other rhythms from different ethnic groups) can be heard in traditional and also modern music of Senegal by many pioneer musician. For example, Baaba Mal, Youssou N'Dour or Mansour Seck.
This type of folk music in fact was oral history telling. Griots were storytellers, historians and poets. They were part of oral tradition and were keeping the history and culture through their folk music and songs. This traditional music was also very popular in other West African countries like Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea,...
The main traditional music instrument which is used by griots is Kora. It is a kind of lute with 21 strings, but originally it had seven strings. Many of the contemporary traditional musicians of Senegal comes from a griot family like Mansour Seck.
This type of music maybe the most well-known and important music of Senegal. It is also the national dance of Senegal (and Gambia). It was developed during 1960s and it was popularized by the effort of Youssou N'Dour. It is mixture of many different music genres from cuban music to traditional drumming of Senegal named sabar. Youssou N'Dour was in fact the first person who mixed traditional music with sabar drums, saxophones, and electric guitars. Sabar drumming consist of mbung mbung (lead drum), djembé , tama (talking drum), ngorum, bougarabu, tungune, ndende, nder, tiol, and talmbeut, collectively called "tam tams", each with a slightly different pitch and role in the rhythm. The genre's name derived from the heavy use of accompanying rhythms used in sabar called mbalax.
Some traditional music instruments other than those mentioned above are the fiddle-like riti (with two strings usually), the hoddu (or xalam which is string instrument from one to five strings).
If you have more information about the folk music of Senegal, please kindly let us know through the contact us page. If you know some traditional songs from Senegal, you can send it from “Post a song” link in the top menu. If you see something wrong in the tags of list below, please kindly let us know.
Traditional / folk songs for Senegal
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