Mamadou Diabate
CD Balanfola front cover


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  • artist:Mamadou Diabate
  • region:West Africa
  • release year:2008
  • style(s):Classical, World
  • country:Burkina Faso
  • formats:CD (Compact Disc)
  • record posted by:Mamadou Diabate


Mamadou Diabate says: "For a long time I have struggled with two challenges: How can I present our culture to people who do not speak our language? And how can I play balafon music – normally composed for three musicians playing on one instrument – so that I can convey the same message?
In order to solve this problem I had to revise almost everything about the balafon that I learned in childhood. This meant reworking the compositions to convey the impression that two or even three balafonists were playing.

The decisive impulse to attempt this came from observing the Canadian pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin as he played Leopold Godowsky's Chopin-studies for the left hand. I was astonished how much was possible with the 5 fingers of one hand. I felt encouraged to experiment intensively, in order to find out what is possible with two mallets. Now I compress my music in a rhythmic-melodic line that is playable with two mallets, then I re-fragment it with accentuation to achieve the final effect.

This new playing technique also made the solution to the first problem possible. I now dramatise my stories, as in a radio play. This innovation has been well received at home by the Sambla, who are accustomed to receiving this music as a story. For those who do not hear the music this way, there is still the experience of a varied and highly polyphonic music."