mandebala.net

Discography

My starting point for developing the discographies was Charry's "Appendix C: Recordings of Traditional and Modern Pieces in Mande Repertories" (2000: 398-401). Appendix C presents a list of recordings organized by named piece and although some of the tracks are unambiguously identifiable as "X" (simply because they are named thus), others are so identified because some aspect of the track's musical material indicates "X-ness." (See Charry [2000: 399] "Lamban," for example.) I have expanded Charry's appendix, drawing from my own collection of more than seven hundred Mande music CDs. But like Charry, I too have identified tracks as X or Y according to track titles or liner note indications on the one hand, and the musical accompaniments, melodies, or songs that I recognize as being the domain of piece X or piece Y on the other. Although I have done my best to proceed cautiously—even seeking the advice of my bala teachers in some cases—the relationship that a track has to a named piece from the traditional (or modern) repertory is sometimes uncomfortably tenuous. Tracks about which I am only partially sure (or for which the title indicates "X-ness" but the musical material does not) have been marked with an asterisk. Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns about the inclusion or omission of certain recordings.

Even with a collection of 700+ Mande music CDs, I simply do not own all of the discs cited in Charry's appendix, and since I have populated the mandebala.net discography with recordings from my own collection, I have not (as yet) included those recordings which are found in Charry's Appendix C, but that I do not myself own. The full list of sources used is compiled here in bibliographic format.

The discography tables are sortable by column heading. Under the Instruments heading, "J/D" stands for Jembe/Dunun. (If only one of these two instruments is identified, it is indicated with the full name of the instrument.) "Percussion" refers to any type of shaker, bell, or small, hand-held percussion instrument, but also to otherwise unidentified electronic percussion sounds. I also use "Brass" and "Strings" where I cannot clearly identify the individual instruments involved.

Tuning and Tempo columns have been introduced, though as of May, 2014, these have not yet been filled out for every piece. (For an example of a piece that has been filled out, see mane.) If the tuning is identified as diatonic, a parenthetical indication of the tonal center(s) is given as follows: Diatonic (in F), or Diatonic (D/E). It should be understood, however, that Mande pieces do not necessarily conform to Western notions of "key"—many instruments are tuned to traditional scales that bear little relation to Western temperament.

Tempi are determined manually. (At first I tried automating the process, but polyrhythmic ambiguities left me questioning the consistency of "strong beat" assignment.) There are several free online tools for this. I have been using the Tap for Beats Per Minute tool, being sure to tap at least fifty times before settling on an average BPM. In recordings where tempi fluctuate by design (i.e. where a change in tempo was most likely a composition decision) or where dancers might be "heating up" the players (as in live recordings of drum-dance events, say), I do my best to find a representative average. The intention behind the introduction of these two columns was pedagogical: for me it is helpful to be able to quickly identify recordings to which I can "play along" choosing a relaxed tempo at first and increasing the tempo as I get more comfortable.

My Mande music collection is always growing, and as I acquire new recordings, I will add these to the discography. By all means, if you can help me add new information, please feel free to contact me. Many thanks to those who already have.