Djembe & Mande Music/Review Section
(last revision 02/13/99)

NUMBER ISBN: 3-930915-68-5 

Here we go with a short review of Famadou Konaté and Thomas Ott's book and the accompanying CD.

The book, a 110 pages paperback and contains the following four sections:

  1.  "Die Malinke und ihre Musik"
  2.  "Afrikanischer Rhythmus: Einige Grundbegriffe - erlaeutert an den Trommelrhythmen der Malinke" 
  3.  "Mehodisches: Uebungen, Erarbeitungsmuster, Arrangments"
  4.  "Die Rhythmen und Lieder" 
  1.  "The Malinke and their music"
  2.  "African rhythm: Some basics explained using Malinke drum rhythms as examples"
  3.   "Methods: Exercises, learning patterns, arrangements"
  4.   "Rhythms and songs"
The book is illustrated with a lot of black and white photographs, most of them taken by Thomas Ott himself.

How to work with the book:

The target group are teachers and scholars, who would like to work theoretically and practically on African music. The book/CD might be used for hearing and analyzing and as well for singing and making music.
What the book is not about:
- The book is not an introduction to African music
- Dance is totally absent
- There is only limited information concerning the social and cultural background of the music presented.
So nobody should expect a musicological book, covering  Malinke rhythms from Abandon to Zhaouli.

Detailled summary of each section as follows:

The "Malinke and their music" covers general information about the people and their history, the function and context of their music, the instruments and drum rhythms. Famadou Konaté tells us how he became a drummer and Johannes Beer, who wrote the booklet for Famadou's first CD, talks about music and dance as part of  festivals. There is some ethnographic data and a map of Guinea and  the section closes with a page from the diary of a German visitor to Conakry.

The "African rhythm" section is a really successful attempt to give a well-defined, profound and comprehensible introduction to African rhythms. All examples given are in western musical notation ( "hen  sratches and fly specks" ) and even an amateur - talking about myself - can learn a lot: patterns, polyrhythm, melorhythm, elementary pulse, beat, off-beat patterns, polymetric patterns are just some of the terms presented and explained by giving musical examples from different parts of the continent.

"Exercises, learning patterns, arrangements" is a chapter that I'd recommend to everbody, who is participating in or leading a drum circle: what are the typical problems concerning African music for us non-African people? how to practice? some real useful hints and tips. To mention a sentence I liked immediately: "Practice itself is music" exactly what I miss in some groups or as Mamady Keita told us some workshops ago: "You should have fun when you're here in the workshop. Don't be afraid to make mistake, a mistake is your chance to learn something and I'll help you with that. Don't look that serious, put a smile on your face". There are some varied "TAKETINA" - exercises as well as hints on how to arrange the rhythms in the absence of the original African instruments.

So far, the three sections described above cover about one half of the book. The remaining about 60 pages cover the 9 rhythms, which can be found on the accompanying CD:

  1.  Lolo
  2.  Bala Kulandyan
  3.  Somba Koeroe ( Dyidanba)
  4.  N'yèrèbi
  5.  Baga Kiné 
  6.  Kéné foli
  7.  Kuku
  8.  Kè bendo
  9.  Malin na kanin 
1) I learned "Baga Kiné" from Famadou in September 95 as "Makuru"
2) "Malin na kanin" is a song by a 13 year old girl, as accompanied by Famadou on waterdrum and one of his daugthers on shekere. (Johannes Schya)

All the rhythms except for "Somba Koeroe" and "Kéné foli" are in 16/8, these two are in 12/8. Each rhythm is given with the lyrics and melody of the song, introduction and interlude, the djembe and bass drum patterns as well as a couple of solo phrases ( as mentioned above in Western notation). Information about each rhythm as well as a structured approach on how to teach this rhythm are provided.

The book contains of course a bibliography  and a small discography.

The CD

The CD contains nearly 50 minutes of music with all examples described in the book. I don't want to go too much into detail and give you just a few facts:
Recorded in Conakry/Guinea, December 1995.
The musicians:
Famadou Konaté (musical guidance, djembe, flute, water drum)
Diarra Konaté, Fodé Konaté, Mamady Kourouma (djembe)
Karamo Daman (Kenkeni)
Amadou Diakité, Nankuma Konaté (Sangban)
Aliseny Sylla (Dunumba)
Kadé Konaté, Koulako Konaté (Skekere)
Chorus singers:
Manou Fofana, Saran Camara, Kadé Konaté, Fanta Konaté (solo vocals, chorus) Kadiatou Cissé, Fatou Diakité, Mariaram Siré diallo, Balia Kalissa, Siré Keita, Bintou Konaté, Diaka Konaté, Koria Konaté, Koulako Konaté, Mariam Leno (chorus)
Recording engineer:
Thomas Goldhahn.
The CD contains only a one page leaflet, giving just the information above, but it isn't necessary to add more, as the book presents each example in detail.

The quality of the CD is excellent and - together with the notation and explanation from the book - it is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in Malinke rhythms from Guinea.

Order information 

The book and CD can be ordered either directly from the company
given below. 
Important: The order number for the book is 567 and 568 for the CDwhen ordering from the adress given below. Don't use the ISBN
number for your order, it's for ordering from a bookshop !!! 

Paedagogik Zentrale 
Postfach 1001502 
D-30917 Seelze/Velber 

phone +49 (0) 511-40004-150 
fax +49 (0) 511-40004-188 

The price for one book with CD is 24,- + 32,- DM + add. shipping 
(bank fees). 

The publishing house has its own website and it's possible to order there as well, though the site is in German only:


Johannes Schya
 ( 12/21/1997 )