Category: africa


Gasper Nali and his Babatoni

Some days ago I have discovered a video with Gasper Nali and his huge one string guitar Babatoni.

Gasper Nali is a musician from Malawi, he has built a huge one stringed kind of guitar and uses this instrument to accompany his songs. He also uses a selfmade foot drum as a percussion instrument.

Gasper Nali shows his Babatoni in the following video.

The instrument is made from a kind of big drum, a long board, a long wire used as a string and a tuner. The instrument is played with a stick in the right hand and a bottle in the left hand. The bottle is used to shorten the string. Gasper Nali has painted big colored numbers to the neck of his instrument to mark the positions for the different tones. Before he plays the Babatoni he uses a fire to heat the drumhead of his instrument, so it sounds better. The bridge is positioned on the drumhead.

How the Babatoni is played – a stick in the right hand and a bottle in the left hand.
Big numbers show the positions for the bottle to shorten the strings.
The bridge is placed between drumhead and string.

It is fascinating which sounds this simple homemade instrument can produce. Together with the footdrum Gasper Nali can play a great accompaniment for his songs.

Playlist Gasper Nali

Gasper Nali has produced to albums which are available at bandcamp:

Album 2005 at bandcamp:

Album 2018 at bandcamp:


Kora and Cello – The Duo Ballake Sissoko and…

Some time ago the new CD “At Peace” by Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal has been presented on the “First Listen” page.

I was immediately fascinated by this music, so I had to search for and listen to more music played by Ballake Sissoko and Vincent Segal.

The duo had already played in a Tiny Desk Concert of the NPR – this is available as a video and shows both musicians very well. Two years ago the first CD Chamber Music had just been published.

The music reminds me sometimes to baroque music for the lute with long and meditative parts like in the first part of Chamber Music. Other songs sound typically African.

The cello is played with a bow mostly, but also plucked to play chords like a guitar and even used as a kind of percussion instrument. Vincet Segal does a great job in accompanying the kora and add his part to the music. He takes up the melodies from the kora and produces some incredible sounds on his instrument.

This is the Tiny Desk Concert video (you can also watch this on the NPR site):

Ballake Sissoko And Vincent Segal: Tiny Desk Concert

I have found many videos with the duo, I have selected my favorite videos for my playlist:

Playlist Ballake Sissoko And Vincent Segal

Additional Information

youtube channel Vincent Segal:

Wikipedia about the kora:

Website about the kora –

Cora Connection – The leading resource for the Kora and Manding Music — online since 1996

Website about the kora by Harald Loquenz – (German, Englisch, French, Dutch):

this project is devoted to the music, the culture and the musicians of the most demanding and highest developed African string instrument

Amazon partnerlink CD Chamber Music: Chamber Music

New CD At Peace: At Peace



Okavango: An African Orchestra – Great CBC Concert in…

Today I am listening to some great African music. The CBC has added a concert by the group Okavango to its list of free concerts on demand.

For Okavango seven musician from different part of Africa have joined together – musicians who normally would not play together. Okavango has created a great mixture of African music.

The musicians are playing severel African instruments: the kora, the balofon, an arabian lute (oud), the guembri – an instrument with 3 strings from Nothern Africa and Marocco, the drum sabar form Senegal, the lyre krar from Ethiopa, but also electric guitars and several other instruments.

I have not found any videos showing Okavango, but I have found some videos with members of Okavango.

First I have two videos with Nuru Kane and his guembri. In the first video he tells about the guembri (French), the second is a video from a concert with Nuru Kane:

Nuru Kane et sa guembri.

Nuru Kane world music.

Reportage web télévisé de la web tv – Réalisation journaliste Eric Minsky-Kravetz.
Extraits du concert du chanteur musicien sénégalais Nuru Kane au “Centre Musical Fleury Goutte d’Or – Barbara” à Paris dans le cadre de l’événement “Téma Barbès l’Africaine”.
Extrait du reportage web télévisé exclusif du 22 mai 2010 à Paris de la web tv francilienne tvidf.

Les musiciens qui accompagnaient Nuru Kane à ce concert : Jouad el Garouge (percussions, guembri et chant) et Thierry Fournel (guitare, oud, n’goni).

La totalité de ce reportage est diffusée sur les web tv d’Ile-de-France ou d’Eure-et-Loir

The next video shows Daniel Nebiat and the krar, a kind of lyre from Ethiopa and Eritrea.

Information about the krar from wikipedia:

The krar is a five- or six-stringed bowl-shaped lyre from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The instrument is tuned to a pentatonic scale. A modern krar may be amplified, much in the same way as an electric guitar or violin.

The krar, a chordophone, is usually decorated with wood, cloth, and beads. Its five or six strings determine the available pitches. The instrument’s tone depends on the musician’s playing technique: bowing, strumming or plucking. If plucked, the instrument will produce a soft tone. Strumming, on the other hand, will yield a harmonious pulsation. The krar is often played by musician-singers called azmari and accompanies love songs and secular songs, which makes it an enjoyable accompaniment to a cozy meal.

Daniel Nebiat

Okavango: An African Orchestra

On the page with the concert by  Okavango on the CBC concert on demand site you can read the following:

This is an ambitious new musical project that could happen only in one of the world’s great multicultural cities: Toronto. To create this pan-African orchestra, Batuki Music Society Artistic Director Nadine McNulty has assembled a cast of seven accomplished African-born musicians who now live in Toronto and Montreal.


Historically, these musical cultures have had little or no interaction. For instance, musicians in West Africa who usually play the kora, balafon or drums would not use an instrument from East Africa like the krar to create music or vice versa. Or a Malian kora would sound alien to a farmer in the Ethiopian highlands who is used to the one string fiddle called masenko. And the list goes on, all over the vast continent of Africa.


  • Okavango
  • Daniel Nebiat – vocals, krar
  • Pasipamire Gunguwo – vocals, marimba, mbira
  • Donne Roberts – vocals, guitar
  • Nuudi Kooshin – vocals, kaban
  • Waleed Abdulhamid – vocals, guembri, bass
  • Sadio Sissokho – vocals, kora, tama, talking drum, sabar
  • Walter Maclean – vocals, percussion
  • Nadine McNulty – Artistic Director

(concert no more available)

Additional Information

Wikipedia about Sintir / Guembri:

Wikipedia about the krar (English):

Wikipedia about the krar (German):

Playlist with videos by Nuru Kane and Daniel Nebiat:


Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko – Banjo and Kora

The Canadian musician Jayme Stone has travelled to Mali to research the history and origins of the banjo in Africa. There he met Mansa Sissoko, a “griot” and storyteller.

In this concert of the CBC you can hear both musicians together – creating something new from two different cultures.

Jayme Stone / Mansa Sissoko at Nuits D’Afrique 2009

Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko @ Claudia Cassidy Theater 092308

Playlist Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko

Concert on Demand – CBC:

Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko at the Calgary Folk Music Festival 2008

Canadian musician Jayme Stone went to Mali in search of the roots of the banjo. It was there that he met kora player Mansa Sissoko, a renowned “griot” – a musician and storyteller who helps to hand the songs down from the previous generation to the next.

Jayme and Mansa collaborated together and this concert is the result of the blending of two cultures into something new.

(no more available)

Additional information

Wikipedia about the kora:

Homepage about the kora: