Tag: 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: https://gaspernali.bandcamp.com/album/abale-ndikuwuzeni

Album 2018 at bandcamp: https://gaspernali.bandcamp.com/album/zoona-malawi

stringed instruments

The Guembri – A Three Stringed Skin-covered Bass Plucked…

The  guembri is a 3-stringed plucked instrument which is beeing played by the Gnawa people in Morocco and North-Africa. The playing technique is similar to the clawhammer style used with the American banjo. One of the 3 strings of the guembri is shorter and is used as a drone – this is another similarity to the American banjo.

The lower string is plucked with the thumb, the higher strings are plucked with the finger nail of the middle and index finger. The guembri is at the same time used like a drum, by hitting the leather-head of the instrument with the right hand. Very often little bells or metal rings are attached to the instrument to produce additional sound effects.

Playliste Guembri

At the end of the playlist you can find some instructional videos for playing the guembri.


A concert with music from Morocco:

Gnawa and Moroccan Mystical Musics at UCLA

Additional Information

Sintir (or Guembri) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The sintir (Arabic: سنتير‎), also known as the Guembri (Arabic: الكمبري‎), Gimbri or Hejhouj, is a three stringed skin-covered bass plucked lute used by the Gnawa people. It is approximately the size of a guitar, with a body carved from a log and covered on the playing side with camel skin. The camel skin has the same acoustic function as the membrane on a banjo. The neck is a simple stick with one short and two long goat strings that produce a percussive sound similar to a pizzicato cello or double bass.

Atlas of Plucked Instruments – Africa

Videos with tag “guembri” at vimeo

Guembri-Musik at archive.org

Instruments du monde

hajhouj in the Musical Instruments Museum

pictures of the making of a Guembri

If you are registerd tumblr user you can try the search for “guembri” at tumblr:

Suche “guembri” bei tumblr


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: http://www.youtube.com/user/vincentsegal/videos

Wikipedia about the kora: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kora_%28instrument%29

Website about the kora – coraconnection.com:

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

Website about the kora by Harald Loquenz – kora-music.com (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 http://www.tvidf.fr – 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 http://www.tvidf.fr ou d’Eure-et-Loir http://www.tv28.fr

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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sintir

Wikipedia about the krar (English): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krar

Wikipedia about the krar (German): http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krar

Playlist with videos by Nuru Kane and Daniel Nebiat: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=D5462DBD8AAE8A68