Senegal - Serer Music

Album cover art for upc 3415820000784
Catalog: C 560261


Among the Serer; music is omnipresent in all stages of life: female songs accompanied by gourds; male songs accompanied by drums; children’s songs etc. make up a very rich and varied musical heritage. The Serer people are; after the Wolof and the Fula; the third major ethnic group of Senegal. Their territory stretches from beneath the region of Dakar to Senegal’s border with The Gambia. It is mostly the women who sing; either a cappella; or to the accompaniment of hand-clapping or by playing their own instruments. On this album; a spheric calabash can be heard; the sole instrument present on all occasions exclusive to women. It is played by striking its inner surface with the palm of the hand and fingers fitted with bullet casings or iron rings. Men are most often instrumentalists; playing the drums in particular. The Serer use; like the Wolof; a five-drum ensemble (called sabar) of single-skinned; cylindrical drums played simultaneously or in alternation with a hand and a stick. Men also play the riiti fiddle; a stringed instrument with a circular sound-box and two strings; in horse-hair or nylon; that are rubbed with a bow. The riiti can be effectively played on its own to accompany historical chant or songs of praise. Depending on the geographical region; Serer songs may be performed by griots; professional singers and musicians or by other people; and as is the case in numerous African societies; this music is based on a principle of repetition and variation. Identical melodies can even be shared in several different musical contexts; the words themselves being what alter and determine the function of the songs.

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