PLAYED IN CLASSES
In order to play any of the rhythms listed below, you need at least 5 distinct instruments: One Doundoumba, One Sangban, One Kenkeni, and 2 Djembes.
The concept of Rhythm is not to be confused with a phrase or a pattern (Ostinatos) played on one of those instruments. The minimum combination of all 5 instruments playing different phrase is required to built each rhythm below. Other additional instruments are also used depending on the type of rhythm and context in which the rhythms are being played, mainly the Bala, the Kora, the Bolon, the Fula flute, various shakers and, the Krin in the modern version of orchestras.
We also invite you to browse our Blog articles dedicated to Djembe drumming.
- Djaa (Kouroussa)
Djaa is a Malinke rhythm from the Guinean regions of Kankan and Kouroussa (Hamana).
Initially a hand clapping dances, it has evolved into a full rhythm. There is second version of it from the Siguiri region.
It is the dance of seduction by young girls during full moon
It is also played before wedding ceremonies for the bride and her friends.
Garangedon is a Malinke rhythm, name of the dance of the shoe-makers, which used to be played only between themselves. It used to be danced by women at wedding ceremonies. It is also played in Mali.
This Rhythm comes from the western region of Guinea - cities of Boke and Boffa.
It is played by the Landuma ethnic group. Tiriba (or Triba) has multiple translations. It used to be the name of the main dancer during festivities in that region. Since Tiriba dancers are no longer seen when playing this rhythm, it has now become a very popular rhythm played at multiple occasions.
- Woima (Hamana)
Woima is the name given to the fetish maker.
This Rhythm is played by Malinke people of the north-east region of Guinea. It is associated with fetish and magic rituals.
This rhythm was played after the initiation ceremonies. it is usually played just before Soli.
- Soli (4 rhythms)
Soli is a rhythm played all over Guinea. It used to be played during the time of initiation ceremonies. It is also a challenging fight dance where participants wrestle. There is different version of Soli (Fast - Slow - Wassolon Manian), the last 2 being related to the region of Guinea where they are played (respectively Mandiana and Beyla).
- Mendiani / Boundiani
This is a Malinke rhythm for young girls. The village’s woman and their leader, are in charge of organizing the event. Young girls are dressed with a wide outfit “Boubou” and a mask, then they are carried by young men on their shoulders to the central place of the village where the festivities are happening. The drummers welcome them by playing a rhythm called Denadon.
When the young girls take off their Mask and top outfit, the village "griot" start singing and Mendiani rhythm and dance starts. In Conakry (the capital) and mainly among the various and numerous professional ensembles (“Balai”), Mendiani is played with 3 upright Doundouns. In a north east region of Guinea called Hamana, a popular slightly different version is played in weddings and baptisms: Boundiani. In Mali, people also play Mendiani , except that their Mendiani is in fact referring to Boundiani.
Regardeless of where / how it is played, Mendiani rhythm voices are similar and unmistakable.
- Tomankan (Liberte1 - Freedom1)
A modern rhythm (early 1970's), emerged out of the capital Conakry's neighborhoods Drum and dance groups competitions, and got its name from the name of one of these groups:"Ballet Liberté". The story of this rhythm comes from the liberation ("Liberté") from the French colonizer's ongoing tax upon the people. There is a second rhythm variation that was also created by this same group (Liberte 2). The rhythm was inspired / built out of the rhythms "Triba", and “traditional Soko”.
This is a very popular rhythm among the Dunumba family of rhythms that originated in the Kouroussa region. Bolokonondo means "The 9 paths".
Sofa means warrior, and it is known to be an old Malinke rhythm. This rhythm used to be played for horseback warriors. Originally played with a string instrument called a Bolon. Trained horses would perform a stepping dance on the rhythm, with songs extolling the warrior's bravery and before battle, to urge warriors on to great feats of courage and endurance.
Today, Sofa is played by hunters, and anyone who wants to honor a very important and respected person.
- Soliba / Balakulandjan
Soliba / Balakulandjan (Birds by the water) is a Malinke rhythm / song from the Kouroussa region. The song Balakulandjan is an old song which used to be sang for Soumaoro Kante’s brother who was a hunter (As per the legend…the animals where singing for him). The variation between Soliba and Balakulandjan come from the fact that Balakulandjan (2 versions) originates in Soliba. It is also played in the same context as the Soli family of rhythms and used to be played at the time of initiation, the day before Soli. It is now played in other occasions as well.
Soko is a Malinke rhythm from the Faranah region. It used to be played during the month prior to the initiation ceremonies, or at the time of announcement of the upcoming event.
Kassa means granary – It is not really a rhythm, but more a family of rhythms associated to the harvest.
An “introduction” played to go and come back from the harvest in the village context, which lately got called Kassa.
When people from the village go to the fields to work in remote areas, drummers play for them all day long. and they are accompanied by women singing throughout the working day. The Kassa family of rhythms includes N’koke, Soro, and more.
- Dibon and Kondolabendoundou
Dibon is a Malinke rhythm derived from the song of a bird couple when the male calls the female. It is played in conjunction with Kassa in the harvest time, and follows it.
Dibon is then changed into Kondolabendoundou, which is a variation of the same rhythm.
Soro is a rhythm representing the substance of magic or a life force, like the energy within a seed. This rhythm is played in the context of Kassa rhythm (See Kassa above). A modern version has led in a combination of Soro with the Kassa introduction (Kassani Soro), from the national Ballets, in which both rhythms are mixed.
- Marakadon / Marakafoli
Marakadon is a very popular dance from Mali.
It is the dance of the Maraka people, and it is also played in Guinea.
Konkoba is a Malinke rhythm from Guinea.
It is played to pay tribute to important or devoted farmers.
- Kotejuga / Koredjuga (Komodemu)
Kotedjuga is a Malinke rhythm associated to the ethnic group of the same name, in the Guinea border region with Mali. Kotedjugas used to be entertainers wondering around and finding any gathering to spontaneously play and amuse people in order to get something in return.
- Fula Fare / Yoleli
Fula Fare in soussou language means "dance of Fula (Peul)", Fula being an ethnic group of Guinea. Yoleli is its name in Peul language.
The Peul ethnic group mainly live in an area called "Fouta Djalon" in Guinea, however, this typically nomad ethnic group is also found all over west Africa, and Africa. This celebration dance is played for various celebration occasions.
- Kuku (2 Rhythms)
Kuku is a rhythm from the Manian ethnic group in the forest region of Guinea around the city of Beyla (Not far from the Ivory-coast border). It is one of the most popular west African rhythm. In Guinea, it is played in many different celebration occasions, and at very different speed, depending on the region.
It was originally played without Doundoumba/Sangban/Kenkeni for women to dance when returning from fishing. In this area, Malinke people have migrated and mixed with the people from the forest.
Another fast version of this rhythm is played by Maoka ethnic group.
- Khon (Dunumgbe)
This Malinke rhythm is part of the Dunumba family of rhythms from the Hamana Gberedu region of Guinea.
It is the most significant, and the root of the many Dunumba family rhythms (The dance of the strong Men). The percussionist come to the lead dancers house “Barati” and start playing the “Khon” to announce the Dunumba festivities. The family of the “Baratis” then comes down to the village main place followed by a group of least experienced dancer’s family who want to become the “Baratis”. Multiple Dundumba rhythms will be played without interruption during the festivities. The dance during the festivities will be a symbolic confrontation between the group of Baratis and the other group forming two lines, should the other group wins, their family will then become the “Baratis”.
Each dancer is holding a Machete in the right hand and a Hippopotamus skin whip in the other one all through the symbolic confrontation dance.
- Kakilambe and Meeni (Traditional versions)
Kakilambe is a rhythm from the Baga people (Bagatai), on the upper costal region of Guinea (city of Boke).
It is a mask that only appears once a year, and its spirit is believed to be protecting from bad future events. Someone is always used to translate the mask spirit towards the gathered people.
The mask will then predict future events, whether good or bad.
One popular associated song for this rhythm is called Baga Guine. It is a women's rhythm, as Baga Guine means Baga women in the Soussou language. Baga people are an ethnic group in Guinea (Bagatai). The song associated to this rhythm is making fun of Baga women that cannot resist dancing as soon as they hear good music. This rhythm is usually preceded by Yankadi, Yankadi being the slow part, and Makru the fast part.
Originally, Yankadi is a soussou seduction dance for young women, danced by both young girls and boys coming from out of town to show their new moves and dance.
It is now played at various occasions.
This rhythm is often followed by Makru, (Makru being the fast part, and Yankadi the slow part), as well as Guine Fare and Djole.
-Fefo (A Nakan)
Fefo is a family of rhythms played by Famoudou Konate, in the Hamana region of Guinea (Playing the calabash).
Dara is a rhythm played by Malinke ethnic group in the Hamana region of Guinea. It is played at wedding time for the bride.
- Sorsonet (Also Sornet)
Sorsonet is a mask from the Baga ethnic group on the upper costal region of Guinea.
The mask is kept in the forest and only brought to the village occasionally.
It is a venerated mask believed to be protecting villages. Women also consult the mask through its assigned elder woman guard when they have fertility or pregnancy problems, as well as to thank for successful birth.
This rhythm has now become popular, and is danced by everybody.
Gidamba is an old traditional Malinke rhythm from the north east region of Guinea. Originally played on the 7th day of a child birth (day where the name will be given), It is now played at multiple ceremonies like weeding, baptisms, and spontaneous festivities as well.
Multiple songs can accompany this rhythm. Somba Koro (The Women thief) is one of them.
It is usually danced by solo women dancers.
On the evening preceding the end of Ramadan festivities, young men from similar age are gathered. They will talk , argue, and settle everything between themselves during the entire night.
The Konden rhythm will be played during that night.
In the morning, they will sing Sirankuruni as they separate, and will be encouraged to publicly use a whip, and get rid of all the yearly accumulated tension and rivalry by whipping one another. The rhythm also includes parts for the Krin instrument.
Yamama is a very popular rhythm from Guinea Conakry, originally a mask dance from the Samou region - it is now played at various occasions
- Maane / Temoure
Maane / Temoure is a soussou rhythm/dance played and danced all along the costal region of Guinea for various festivities.
It is a rhythm that women really enjoy dancing.
There are alternate versions of this same rhythm called "Maane "from Boke" and Benna Maane, Boke and Benna being respectively in the northern and southern costal region of Guinea.
Djole is a rhythm that originated in southern Guinea, and northern part of Sierra Leone (City of Forecariah in Guinea).
It used to be played only on musical instruments called Sikkos (square drums), but have now been adapted on Doundoun and Djembes as well.
This is played for various big festivities and celebrations like weddings or the end of Ramadan. This mask dance has become very popular in Guinea and all over west Africa.
Djabara is a popular Malinke rhythm from the Wassolon ethnic group (North east of Guinea). It is named after the musical instrument (shaker) Djabara .
This rhythm used to be played by women holding Djabara when a very important person arrives in the village. Originally not played with Doundoumba/Sangban/kenkeni, this rhythm has been adapted to include these instruments. It is now also played as a popular rhythm at many various occasions.
Bao is a rhythm and dance from the Toma ethnic group, in the forest region of Guinea around Macenta (South east of Guinea). It is played for young girls at the occasion of a big family event following young girls initiation. There are many versions of this rhythm played on a musical instrument called Krin (set of Krins).
Sinte is a rhythm from the region of the city Boke, Boffa and their surroundings.
In this part of Guinea, The Landuma and Nalu people are present and use this rhythm as a pre-initiation dance. This rhythm was also sometimes played by women on a musical instrument called the Krin.
It has now become very popular because of its melody and the variety of dances associated to it.
- Guine Fare / Yogui
Guine Fare is a Soussou rhythm from Guinea, meaning women dance.
It is played in lower guinea at various occasions and is very popular among women who love to dance on it.
- Wolossodon / Djondon (Ternary)
Wolossodon is a popular Malinke rhythm from Mali.
It is the dance of the "Wolosso", or people from the house.
It is not very played in Guinea.