19 July 2007


"Diabaté" by Vieux Farka Touré which clocks in at 9:17

If you follow "world music" or African music at all, or if you happen to pay attention when certain albums get a ton of great reviews, then the names posted above should not be all that unfamiliar to you. The name of the song posted here is in reference to one Toumani Diabaté, a legendary Malian kora player who was mentored by the late Ali Farka Touré and has worked with western artists such as Taj Mahal and Bjork. Vieux Farka Touré is Ali's son and has just released his own well received album this year as he makes a move to continue the great legacy which his late father left behind. This song, and the picture posted here, are both all about the same thing. Namely, the 21-string harp-lute known as the kora, Diabaté's mastery of said instrument, and a student and son coming together to honor Ali Farka Touré.

From wikipedia:

"A kora is built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator, and has a notched bridge like a lute or guitar. The sound of a kora resembles that of a harp, though when played in the traditional style, it bears a closer resemblance to flamenco guitar techniques. The player uses only the thumb and index finger of both hands to pluck the strings in polyrhythmic patterns (using the remaining fingers to hold the sticks either side of the strings and secure the instrument). Ostinato riffs ("Kumbeng") and improvised solo runs ("Biriminting") are played at the same time by skilled players."
If, after reading this, you find yourself thirsty for the sounds of a master musician displaying his skills on a kora, then consider yourself in just the right place. The song "Diabaté" is a meditation, perhaps even an intended tribute to Touré's father, and it plays out as a lyrical master-class in fingerpicking, technique, and texture. I'd imagine it's quite a pleasure to see the man play a kora in person.

In fact, Toumani Diabaté just played a show in Manhattan last night, with another in Brooklyn today that's either still going on or just ending as I type. Brooklyn Vegan has more about last night's show, including a fine picture of Toumani explaining what a kora is to the crowd.

*above photo from HERE

Buy Vieux Farka Touré HERE on Amazon, HERE on iTunes, or HERE on eMusic.

EAR FARM's 8+ is a weekly feature that showcases songs longer than 8 minutes. In the recent past these songs were featured on EF's 8+:
Morrissey - "Southpaw"
Mastodon - "Hearts Alive"
Frog Eyes - "Bushels"
Slint - "Washer"
Martin Eagle Trio - "The Hipster"
Battles - "Rainbow"
Nirvana - "Scentless Apprentice"
Jesu - "Weightless and Horizontal"

To see a full list of every song featured in EAR FARM's 8+ click HERE.