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date: 15 September 2019

Burkina Faso, République Démocratique du [formerly Upper Volta]locked

  • Jim Rosellini
  • , revised by Trevor Wiggins


[formerly Upper Volta]

Country in West Africa. It has an area of 274,122 km², with a rapidly expanding population estimated at 12·06 million in 2000, representing 54–60 ethnic groups. The country was annexed by France in 1896 and granted independence in 1960; the colonial period had a profound effect in the absorption of French customs and the French language. There are, however, three general musical areas, the Voltaic, Mande and Sahelian, which correspond fairly closely with the linguistic, ethnic and geographic divisions of the country, although such generalizations often misrepresent the degree of variation in musical styles.

The Voltaic area, made up of central, southern, eastern and south-western Burkina Faso, includes the following groups (fig.1 ): the Mossi, Gurma, Kurumba, Yarse, Bwa (Bobo), Lela (Lyela), Kasena, Nuna, Ko, Pwo (Pwẽ), Nankanse (Nankani), Birifor, Dagara, Lobi, Gan, Komono (Khisa), Sénoufo (Senufo), Karaboro, Gouin, Wara and Ble (Blé). These groups, as well as the Mande groups listed below, use gourd drums, hourglass tension drums, cylindrical and conical drums to perform complex interwoven rhythms based on ostinato-like figures. There is a strong emphasis on chanting, while solo singing is less common. The Birifor, Dagara, Lobi and Sénoufo also use xylophones, often for funeral music but also for recreation. These instruments usually have 14–18 keys with gourd resonators. The style and pitch of the instruments vary greatly across the region, with the northern instruments resembling the Malinké ...

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