Tama Walo

Keepers of the Talking Drum

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An album solely of tama music from the Walo Walo peoples of Senegal. The troupe featured here has relocated to Dakar to perform for the larger crowds, but keeps the traditional format for an ensemble, and the basic lineups for performances. The ensemble is essentially five talking drums of various sizes (a pair of the smallest size) and a large bass drum to help power the rhythms along. The players sometimes make use of the ability to change pitch on the drums to mimic tonal speech, and sometimes they simply use the multi-tonal abilities to improvise some riffs over the top of a groove. As such the album makes for a decent ethnomusicological showcase with the speech surrogacy presentations, but moreover a nice listening experience, with danceable grooves spilling out all over (really the point of the music for those playing it in the first place). The pieces played are almost entirely dance rhythms, with the exception of only a couple: "Ganass," which is the basic introductory number, and "Bak," a rhythmic composition more for soloing than for dancing. As far as Senegalese traditional music goes, Village Pulse often provides some of the better albums as far as authenticity is concerned. As far as Village Pulse albums are concerned, Tama Walo is probably one of the most enjoyable, though newcomers to Senegalese traditional may do well to start out with more melodic albums, such as those by Malang Mane or Mamadou Ly first.

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