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The percussions of Guinea

The Essentials

The national ensemble ‘Percussions de Guinée’ was born in 1988 out of a meeting between François Kokelaere, a French percussionist specialising in African music, and Baïlo Télivel Diallo, the National Director of Culture at the Guinean Ministry of Information. A variety of percussion instruments come and sustain the subtle polyrhythms of the djembe, the emblematic West African music goblet-shaped drum: there are three drums made from metal containers, the doundoumba, sangbeni and kenkeni, as well as a wooden slit drum, the kryin (or kèlè), a square frame drum, the sikko, and a five-headed drum, the plani bala. The second CD presents other instruments, such as the fedounoun water drum –where a small half gourd floats upside down in a larger half gourd filled with water, the bote kettle-drum and the segezege rattle, not to mention the hourglass-shaped tama talking drum, which the musician holds under his armpit, altering the tension of the skins by the pressure of his arm. It also introduces listeners to the art of El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyate, a Mandingo griot who was the greatest balafon master in his generation. All this provides an opportunity to discover the musical and drumming variety an extremely prolific region of Africa.