Djembe & Mande Music Page/Review Section

(last revision 04/15/01)









PIR 49-2



Mark Sunkett's newest product "MANDJIANI DRUM AND DANCE: A Journey to the Drum Culture of Senegal" has just been released. Many of you may be familiar with the companion book, performance CD and aural examples cassette by the same title. This video provides the "pictures worth a 1000 words" which round out the series.

"MANDJIANI" was filmed in Senegal and features Omar Thiam, Ousmane Ba, Assane Konte and many other drummers, dancers, drum makers and fetishers. The film is approximately 35 minutes long. The apparent brevity of the video may be explained by the fact the the Sunkett's book is VERY detailed.

The first third of the video is devoted to an exploration of the traditional methods of creating a djembe and djun djun. Beginning with rituals to bless the tree and receive permission from its resident spirits before felling, the entire process is shown. There are numerous fascinating references to details many of us might never even suspect - like the fact that permission must also be granted by the local government before cutting down such a precious resource as a tree! It's certainly a major reality check to see an entire tree cut down and shaped into two drums using only four small hand tools.

We are given a glimpse into local culture, as all the male members of the village participate in creating the rings for the Djun Djun out of bent limbs, lacing and skinning the drum, using split bamboo for a needle, etc. The video has a anthropological flavor which anyone interested in understanding more of the root of Mandeng music and culture will enjoy.

Following are demonstrations of Doundoumba, Domba and Mandiani performed by Senegalese musicians. One of the musicians takes a moment to comment on the simplification of their music in the west, sharing details such as the fact that the tempo of a rhythm as played in the village may speed up or slow down to accommodate the abilities of different dancers.

Another segment touches on the creation and role of Grigri (talismans) and special clothing to provide protection against evil wishers or accidents as well as to draw to the wearer large audiences and financial abundance.

The final segment of the video provides clear demonstrations of various common dance steps played with accompaniment. There are both solo and group performances of Doundoumba, Mandiani, Domba, Sunu and others.

MANDJIANI DRUM AND DANCE: A Journey to the Drum Culture of Senegal, is available for $29.95 from:

White Cliffs Media
5150 Mae Anne Ave. #213-208
Reno, NV 89523; Tel: 775-674-1671

I would recommend MANDJIANI DRUM AND DANCE to anyone who wants to know more about the roots of the djembe drumming tradition. This video shows there SO much more to it that visiting your local music store!

michael wall