Africa is a land shrouded in mystery and poetry, the rational mind venturing
there finds itself puzzled and inefficient in negotiating its environment.
Its inhabitants know their own history largely through oral tradition;
interpretations, myths, legends, songs and stories, not through objective
documentation. Some of the retold history was doubted by Westerners who
had to recant themselves faced with the historical evidence of its truth.
look for ethnic and cultural differences
musicians for rhythmic
and melodic patterns
and everyone trying to write a book about
it... document it, categorize it
define it. But Africa never yields
its true nature that way because the real understanding doesn't lie
in rational thought but in poetic thought. It is a land dominated by
magic, where humans accept the irrational forces that guide them in
this world as a fact of life and integrate their intuitive knowledge
to the pursuit of their lives. Until one abandons a few of one's Western
notions about reality and surrenders to a different perspective, the
rational mind keeps one in a state of confusion and bewilderment.
(or Peulhs) are an ethnic group with ramifications throughout Northern
Africa and beyond. Traditionally nomadic herders of cattle and goats,
they are a powerful and vital force in West Africa. Their origins are
mysterious, some suggesting that they are descendent of the lost tribes
of Israel. They are largely responsible for the islamization of West
Africa. They tend to be devout Muslims and value learning. They are
reputed to be physically beautiful; the Woodabees, a branch of the Fulanis,
offer a striking example of beauty. Its men were featured on several
covers of the National Geographic magazine, pictured smiling and gazing
cross-eyed while being amazingly beautifully dressed.
are associated in several areas with varieties of flutes. In Mali, for
example, the two-hole flute that accompanies the Kamala Ngoni, with
astonishing rhythmic patterns belongs to their heritage.
"Fulani flute," (or "tambin") referred to in this
album, is specific to the Fouta Djallon highlands of Guinea (Conakry).
It is a region dominated by the Peulh culture and ethnicity, and known
as the "Chateau d'eau" (water tower) of West Africa, the source
of three of the region's major rivers, the Gambia, the Senegal, and
The most striking characteristic of the tambin is the voice / flute
The second one, more subtle, is the powerful multiphonics (more then
one note sounded at once) that it produces, enhancing the voice / flute
The third one is one of musical language; rhythm is fundamental, associated
with melody and variations
improvisation in a naturally, and intelligently,
connected way with groove and occasional declamation; a vital improvisation,
as if telling a story.
The fourth one is its construction: Made from a vine, it features a
rectangular embouchure with two large wings on each side of it, and
three finger holes producing a full diatonic scale of one and one-half
listeners may have noticed that the repertoire represented on this album
is not Fulani
Bailo Bah, the master tambin player featured in
this album originates from the Fouta Djallon Mountains,. He learned
to play from his grandfather who initiated him to many secrets of nature
and music. At the age of fifteen, after his grandfather's passing, Bailo
left his village to go, on foot, to Dakar, Senegal, to find his fortune,
carrying one flute with him. His early years coincided with the emergence
of African states giving rise to a new cultural phenomenon: The merging,
within state-sponsored national ballets, of the cultural artifacts of
different ethnicities. Before that time, the tambin, was not usually
played to accompany traditional Manden music, the dominant musical culture
of West Africa, but suddenly it was happening. To make his living, Bailo
found himself learning the traditional music of the Manden and playing
it through his Fulani soul. Throughout his career, Bailo has played
almost exclusively Manden music.
tells a legend about the birth of the tambin:
A little orphan boy left to himself was toying with a piece of reed.
After weeks of experimenting and playing, he invented the tambin. He
climbed up in a tree, up in the Fouta Djallon and started to play. After
pouring his heart out in his tambin for a while, he looked down and
all the animals of the mountains where at the foot of the tree crying
because of the beautiful music he was playing.