Today’s Beat in Burkina Faso

Posted June 28th, 2012 at 2:45 pm (UTC-4)
5 comments

Since June 10th, I’ve been exploring contemporary music from Burkina Faso.  Vocalist/lyricist Mai Lingani is a dynamite artist and performer and I’ve been following her since 2005 when we performed together at Floyd Fest, an annual world music festival that takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Central Virginia.  We performed together again in 2006 at the Chicago World Music Festival.  Mai performs and tours a lot with the group Burkina Electric, an electronica band led by New York-based Austrian composer/percussionist Lukas Ligeti.  The group has a tight-knit crew of Burkina and Western European musicians and dancers who have toured worldwide: Wende K. Blass on guitar, German electronicist Kurt “Pyrolator” Dahlke, dancers/choreographers “Vicky” Idrissa Kafando and Zoko Zoko, the latter of the two also being a lyricist.  The video, Mdolé, was made in Burkina Faso in 2006. It is one of their slower paced pieces, based on a love story.  Lukas Ligeti makes a cameo appearance at about 7 seconds into the video and the rest features beautiful scenery and people of Burkina Faso.  I especially appreciate the guitar work of Wende and the contemporary dance sections. Contemporary dance is forever evolving and providing fertile ground for musicians, singers, dancers, and choreographers to blend tradition and modernity in new ways.  Click below to enjoy the music video Mdolé:  Mai Lingani with Burkina Electric

Mai is currently in Burkina Faso working on her second solo album that draws from traditional dances and music from Mossi, Djula, and Warba traditions.  Here is Burkina Electric’s most popular song, To Mi To Zi (Whatever You Do always Comes Back to You).


Burkina Electric "To mi to zi" by pyrolator

On a different beat of Burkina Faso’s music scene, is the up and coming group Waga 3000 with a new blend of blend of electronic music and hip hop. Based in Ouagadouou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, the trio consists of two MCs, Art Melody and Joey Le Soldat, and French beatmaker DJ Form.   This track of off their brand new album, Waga 3000 that is digitally distributed through the platform Akwabaa Music. The trio is named after the ouaga 2000 development project, a luxurious neighborhood where the elite and businessmen congregate from all over West Africa, only steps away from the poor neighborhoods of Ouagadougou.  The two rappers air their complaints about Ouaga’s hoods, day to day without any foreseeable future, and rife with poverty, corruption and violence.  They embrace the electronica/rap genre — a close, younger cousin to Burkina Electric.  They also embrace their indigenous Warba music, a traditional dance of the Mossi people and largest ethnic group in the country, in their tracks. Their music is much edgier, however, and was reported to have been recorded in only two days.  Here is a sample of my favorite cut on the album, “Sak Sin Paode”, which also means (Accept What is Small) just as To Mi To Zi by Burkina Electric. If Burkinabé live by the lyrics to their popular songs, then they are kind and humble people.

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    Sak Sin Paode

  • Burkina Faso holds a special place in my heart because I recorded a song called “Donba Kononi” (The Little Morning Bird) from a collaborative album released in Abidjan 1999 that I sang during a tour in Bobo-Dioulasso, literally translated as “the home of Bobo merchants (Dioula)”, that country’s second largest city.  One of the concerts (done in playback as opposed to live) was televised and that song struck a tender chord with a wide audience.  It is a traditional Bambara song that I learned in Mali.

Donba kononi yo, donba kononi n’tato ye sugula ka na, donba kononi.

(Little morning bird, little morning bird, I went to the market today and came back).

N’taara sugula de, donba kononi, n’taara Bamako sugula. N’ye n’ka sugujo muso nyininka,

(I went to the Bamako market and asked the market lady),

Woloba santaan te yan wa? Woloba santaan ma soro, donba kononi.

(Are you selling mothers here? [and she replied] Mothers aren’t sold here, little morning bird).

N’ye n’ka sira ta de, donba kononi, n’ye n’ka Segu la sira ta, n’ye n’ka sugujo muso nyininka,

I took up my trail for the next town, Segou, and  asked the market lady,

Wolofa santaan te yan wa? Wolofa santaan ma soro, donba kononi.

(Are you selling fathers here? [and she replied] Fathers aren’t sold here, little morning bird).

The song continues to describe the futile mission of this little bird (i.e. orphan child) who goes from town to town on market day looking for a parent to ‘purchase’ until she finally gives up, at which point, she goes to the river bank of the great Niger and cries the last verse to conclude:

N’ye nka kasi ke de, donba kononi, n’ye nka falaya kasi ke.

(I cried, I went to river and cried my orphan’s cry).

Donba kononi yo, donba kononi n’tato ye sugula ka na, donba kononi .

(Little morning bird, little morning bird, I went to the market today and came back).

Here is the original version of that song and for all of you Burkinabe out there, this is for you.

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    Domba Kononi

Stay well, my friends and send me comments as I am always happy to hear from you.

Heather Maxwell
Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award winning radio program "Music Time in Africa" and is the African Music Editor for the Voice of America. Heather is an ethnomusicologist with a Ph.D. from Indiana University specializing in African Music. She is also an accomplished jazz and Afrojazz/Afrosoul vocalist and has been working, researching, and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

5 Responses to “Today’s Beat in Burkina Faso”

  1. Benjamin says:

    Great piece!

    But Waga 3000′s label is called Akwaaba Music:
    http://www.akwaabamusic.com

    Cheers!

    B

    • Heather Maxwell Heather Maxwell says:

      Hey Benjamin,
      Correction noted and fixed. Thanks.

      • Faramarz Beheshti says:

        Dear Heather,
        Can you kindly advise how to send you an email? I am currently working on a project in Mali which I would like to share with. Appreciate if you can kindly advise.

        Regards

  2. hello I was very impressed with the setup you used with this website. I use blogs my self so great job. definatly adding to bookmarks.

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About

Heather Maxwell produces and hosts the award-winning radio program “Music Time in Africa” and is the African Music Editor for the Voice of America. Heather is an ethnomusicologist with Doctorate and Master’s degrees from Indiana University specializing in African Music. She is also an accomplished jazz and Afrojazz/Afrosoul vocalist and has been working, researching, and performing in Africa and the U.S. since 1987.

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