Friday, November 09, 2007

Spontaneous Musical Diversion

For various reasons, I don't tend to do a lot of things completely spontaneously. So, when out of the blue, a co-worker popped his head in my cube today, at 3:15pm, and told me that a really amazing West African musician was going to perform upstairs in 45 minutes and that I should go, I didn't immediately jump at the idea. I was just in the process of copying some scripts to our production system and I needed to find out if everything were still working. Ten minutes before the start of the concert, it was clear that several co-workers were going, even my boss after I mentioned it to him, so I felt more confident in my decision.

Mamadou Diabate, originally from Mali, performed several songs on his kora in the library's Rare Book Room. I ended up sitting on the front row, so I would be able to see up close. The kora is made out of a large-hollowed half gourd, strung with twenty-one strings. At first the sound somehow reminded me almost of a harpsichord, which is not the sound one expects to emanate from a gourd. The instrumental music was somewhat meditative and my mind wandered while focusing intently on the rapid playing of his thumbs and index fingers. This beautiful and unwritten music is traditionally passed down from father to son such that they are as much historians as musicians.

Diabate, a professional musician, who has been nominated for a grammy and has won other awards, now lives in Durham. If you happen to hear about a concert, I encourage you to be spontaneous and attend.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry I missed him. I can't believe he lives in Durham! :)

    Mali has an interesting musical tradition. I really like Salif Keita. Worth looking up if you don't know him.