Circumcision Camp (01:46)
Gambians perform dances during a circumcision ceremony.
Sacred Washing (02:11)
Circumcised boys are led to a sacred washing place. Traditionally, washing took place in a lake, but drought has forced the use of well water. A person with special powers wards off evil spirits.
Boys Dance (01:33)
Boys perform dances individually at a ceremony.
The Kanute extended family has impressive musical talent. One member plays an instrument; another sings.
Kanute Grandfather (01:54)
A man says his grandfather came to Gambia with his musical instruments, he was the first jali (singer/musician) in Gambia. People feared the king's reaction.
Jalis play Lambang for their own entertainment; husbands play for wives to dance.
Stringed Instrument (02:44)
A particular stringed instrument is constructed into symmetry and is said to connect with supernatural powers and to have accompanied warriors in battle.
Harvest Dance (02:38)
A mother performs a harvest dance, animated by water drum music. Food eaten during the performance is said to cure infertility.
Ancient Song (03:11)
Performers play one of the oldest Mandinka songs, originally composed for a famous emperor.
Amplifying Wife's Song (02:52)
The singer's husband amplifies her song with genealogies and epic narratives. A patron offers the woman singer money.
Mandinka Musical Legend (01:53)
Sunjata found the first musician, Balafaa Seexu Kuyaate, in the hollow of a tree; his instrument had only three keys.
Naming Ceremony (03:35)
At a naming ceremony, a baby is brought before elders for a blessing. A woman sings.
Wedding Song (02:00)
Drums accompany a wedding song, commemorating the marriage of people from two different tribes.
One-Stringed Instrument (01:42)
A man plays a one-stringed instrument connected with supernatural forces and narrates stories. A player is said to be able to see the future.
Circumcision Ceremony (03:11)
A circumcision event brings together boys from numerous ethnic groups in Gambia. Dancers perform. Someone plays a double xylophone.
Elders inspect circumcised boys before they are returned to their families. Dances continue.
A man plays the Kora, a string instrument.
A woman sings while a man plays instruments. Her husband comes from the provinces but now lives near the capital, Banjul.
Jaliyaa Practice and Change (02:12)
A practitioner talks about the first Jali. Jaliyaa used to be hereditary, but is now more open. A practitioner laments the departure from traditional Jaliyaa and the playing of music for money.
First Baloo Song (03:05)
A man talks about the training of female Jaliyaa in his wife's family. The first piece played on the baloo is a controversial question among historians, he says. He plays what is arguably the first such song.
Playing Instrument (02:42)
A man plays a piece on a stringed instrument. The piece used to be played on the kontingo. He says different types of jalis are recent; in the East, jaliyaa was indivisible.
Son Accompanies Father (01:32)
A son accompanies his father on a musical instrument.
Kanute Family Performs (04:21)
The Kanute family performs at its compound, singing and playing instruments.
Credits: Born Musicians: Traditional Music from the Gambia (01:03)
Credits: Born Musicians: Traditional Music from the Gambia
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