Chapter 10—The River and the Path: Conversation and
Collective Expression in West African Musics
The following audiovisual items are of particular relevance to this chapter. Portions or complete versions of these productions may be available via VOD (Video on Demand) providers as well as in their conventional DVD or VHS formats. Please see the Chapter 2 “Audiovisual Resources” section of this Online Learning Center for an extensive list of VOD providers.
Dagbamba Praise Name Dances, Stories and Drummed Language. 1990. White Cliffs Media. VHS. 32 mins.
Includes West African “talking drum” demonstrations and explanation of drum speech. Recorded in a studio setting by Abubakari Lunna and the Agbekor Drum and Dance Society.
Djabote: Senegalese Drumming & Song. 1993. Multicultural Media. Video. 43 mins.
Documents composer Eric Serra’s recording session of Doudou N’Diaye Rose and his drumming ensemble outdoors on the island of Gorée, off the coast of Dakar, Senegal.
Graceland: The African Concert. 1987. Warner Bros./WEA. VHS and DVD. 90 mins.
Concert film of the historic Graceland African concert in Zimbabwe (1987) with Paul Simon. Performances by legendary South African musicians including Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Miriam Makeba.
JVC Video Anthology of World Music and Dance, Middle East and Africa II-IV. 1990. Distributed by Rounder Records. Vols. 17-19. VHS.
These three volumes provide comprehensive breadth in their coverage of the African continent. Of particular relevance: a Dogon masked dance from Mali (17-10); a praise song for a king from the Fulbe people of Cameroon (17-11); performances on various Fulbe instruments, such as sanza (17-12—similar to the Shona mbira dzavadzimu), balafon (bala) (17-13), and buusaw (17-15—animal horn flutes); a Ba’Mbuti (“Pygmy”) dance performance (17-21); a “talking drum” performance from Cote d’Ivoire (19-2); and a !Kung (San/Bushmen) musical bow (nkokwane) performance (19-14).
JVC/Smithsonian/Folkways Video Anthology of Music and Dance of Africa. 1996. JVC/Smithsonian/Folkways. 3 vols. plus 3 accompanying books. VHS.
This three-volume series does not duplicate any of the materials in the JVC Video Anthology of World Music and Dance. Volume 1 covers Egypt, Uganda, and Senegal. Volume 2 features selections from Gambia, Liberia, Ghana, and Nigeria; especially significant relative to this chapter are the selections featuring Akan Fontonfrom dance and music (2-16) and Mandinka drumming and dancing (2-1). The highlife and juju selections (2-32, 2-33), the latter featuring juju superstar King Sunny Ade, offer good examples of West African popular music. Volume 3 covers Kenya, Malawi, Botswana, and South Africa, with South African gumboot dancing (3-13), a Ladysmith Black Mambazo track (3-19), and mbaqanga group The Mahotella Queens (3-20) among the highlights.
Keïta!: l’héritage du griot = Keita: The Heritage of the Griot. 1995. Directed by Dani Kouyaté. California Newsreel. DVD, 94 min.
A jéliba (jeli), a master griot or bard, uses the West African Sunjata epic to teach a young boy the significance of the story of his ancestors.
Listening to the Silence: African Cross Rhythms. 2008. Produced by Peter Bischof. Distributed by the Films for the Humanities and Sciences. DVD, 33 min.
Explores music of Ghana with examples from the Ewe, Ashanti, Ga, and Frafra peoples. Originally released in 1996. Available also as Listen to the Silence: Rhythm in African Music from Filmmakers Library.
Living the Hiplife. 2007. Directed by Jesse W. Shipley. Distributed by Third World Newsreel. DVD, 61 min.
A musical portrait of the musical and political scene in hip-hop of Accra, Ghana. Features Reggie Rockstone and the Mobile Boys.
Mande Music and Dance. 2005. Lyrichord Discs, in association with Multicultural Media. DVD. 83 mins.
Eighteen performances featuring Mandinka musicians of the Gambia. DVD reissue of field videos originally recorded by ethnomusicologist Roderic Knight in western Africa between 1970 and 1982. Includes documentary notes, maps, photos, and song texts.
Siaka, an African Musician. 2005. Directed by Hugo Zemp. Süpor Xao, Sélénium Films. Distributed by Supor XAO. DVD, 78 min.
Originally released in French, this documentary is about Mande and Senufo musician and griot Siaka Diabaté, who plays bala (balafon) and kora as well as the dundun drum and electric guitar.