Oral Traditions and Buzzing

In the Mande oral tradition a full sound spectrum cannot be achieved through the “preparation,” or addition of an object such as a bottle cap or cigarette paper. Rather, emphasis is put on vocalists mastering a throaty, loud sound or an additional vocalist is added to interject words in the musical dead space. Thus in Mande music a full vocal sound scape is achieved by a naama-sayer or a woman who voices the sataro.

The Sataro is the improvisational part of the mande vocal performance. Much like the birimintingo part in a piece for the Kora, the sataro provides the performer with an opportunity to showcase their technical virtuousity. This part need not be performed by a woman, but a woman who sings the sataro strives for a musical presence that is big, deep, loud, throaty, and full. The sataro dominates the piece in volume and presence for the duration of the performers improvisation. The full improvisational section is one way the vocal tradition in Mande Music achieves a more dense sound spectrum.

Tom daddesio– reviewer of jali cd’s on the topic of Mande “divas.”

Ntama – a journal of african music and culture. This is an article on the woman’s opportunity for social criticism during the sataro.

The Songbird of Wassoulou – A song by Oumou Sangare.

Mooloobali Traore – The self titled album can be listened to on this blog.

La Grand Vettete Malienne – Kandja Kouyate and L’ensemble Instrumental du Mali album can be heard on this blog.

The Naama-sayer is a responding person found in hunters music. He says naamu, which translates roughly to “yes,” “indeed,” or “i understand,” after a single word, phrase, or line spoken by the jali during his recicatation of history. The Naamu-sayer may offer other terms of affirmation, such as the jalis name, but his purpose is always to fulfill the preference of a full sound spectrum with his interjections of support.

Performance Styles of West African Griots – An information portal to the gambia where there is a lot of good information on the class of the Griot.

Mande Music Online – The book Mande Music by Eric Charry.

Oral Literature Online – The book African Oral Literature: Backrounds, Charectar, and Continuity, with a translation of an excerpt from the epic of Sunjata illustrating the historical role of the naama sayer.

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