Mande Music


Cover: Kora maker Alieu Suso,
Bakau (The Gambia), 1989.
Photo by Eric Charry.

Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa.
500 pages, 48 plates, 36 musical examples, 8 maps. Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology. University of Chicago Press. 2000.

Paper $27.00. ISBN: 0-226-10162-2
Cloth $61.00. ISBN: 0-226-10161-4
Compact Disc $15.00. ISBN: 0-226-10163-0

Selected as a finalist for the Melville J. Herskovits award from the AFRICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION for the most important scholarly work in African Studies in 2000.

". . . the first comprehensive treatment of Mande music . . . Charry brings a keen analytical ear and practical eye to these musical traditions, as well as extensive library and archival research. . . a great resource and reference point for anthropologists and historians of West Africa, and anyone interested in African music. It is also pleasant to read. . . The detailed documentation is animated throughout by his respect and admiration for a great musical tradition." -- Times Literary Supplement June 29, 2001

". . . especially significant because of its historical emphasis. Charry's use of numerous historical sources, both written and oral, is exhaustive. . . While historical work is too often neglected in the study of African musics, Charry's work should be an example for others to follow. . . a much-awaited addition to the study of West African musics, and will surely be an indispensable reference for many years to come." -- Research in African Literatures vol. 32, no. 2 (2001)

"Charry sheds light on the nature of both the traditional music and the 'modern music' of the Mande. . . The author does a superb descriptive job. . . . Since Mande Music provides an excellent and comprehensive model of the study of African music, this volume is a must for all students of African music and ethnomusicology." -- Choice

"[Charry] excels at describing performances, instruments, repertoires, tunings and scales, and the various regional styles and techniques for each instrument. These themes offer a rich look at variation, modification and innovation and create a musical landscape that defies simple characterization. Don't for a second let these topics sound academic or destined for only the ethnomusicologist bookshelf! This is fascinating reading and highly accessible." -- Rootsworld

With Mande Music, Eric Charry offers the most comprehensive source available on one of Africa's richest and most sophisticated music cultures. Using resources as disparate as early Arabic travel accounts, oral histories, and archival research as well as his own extensive music studies in Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and The Gambia, Charry traces this music culture from its origins predating the thirteenth-century Mali empire to the recording studios of Paris and New York. He focuses on the four major spheres of Mande music--hunter's music, music of the jelis or griots, jembe and other drumming, and guitar-based modern music--exploring how each evolved, the types of instruments used, the major artists, and how each sphere relates to the others. With its maps, illustrations, and musical transcriptions as well as an exhaustive bibliography, discography, and videography, this book is essential reading for those seeking an in-depth look at one of the most exciting, innovative, and deep-rooted phenomena on the world music scene. A compact disc is available separately.

"Superb. Eric Charry is deeply into his work, and he understands the music. He pulls together and moves through a vast array of sources and information with clarity and descriptive economy. I would always want to have this book by my side when I dealt with any piece of music from the region." -- John Miller Chernoff, author of African Rhythm and African Sensibility.

A companion compact disc (sold separately by the University of Chicago Press) containing audio examples keyed to the 36 musical transcriptions is also available.

My other research in African Music (sound examples, video clips, articles, discographies...)

Online reviews

CD sources for recordings in the discography

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