Monday, February 16, 2015

African Drums & Dances: Dundunba (Guinean Village Performances)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part I of a three part* series on dundunba drum rhythms and dances. This post provides information about the dundunba drum and showcases nine videos of traditional performances of dundunba rhythms and dances in Guinea, West Africa. [Link to another video was added on 2/17/2015]

Click for Part II of this series.

Part II provides additional information about dundunba and showcases seven videos of dundunba parties in Guinea and concert (on stage) performances of Guinean dundunba rhythms.

Click for Part III of this series, which was added on 2/18/2015.

Part III provides information about traditional purpose of Dundunba and includes a description of the traditional attire for those dancers. As such, it serves as answers to the questions that I raised in the comment section below.

The content of this post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those featured in these videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

INFORMATION ABOUT DUNDUNBA [revised on 2/18/2015]
"The word "dunumba" or "doundumba" describes a type of dance that is popular in Upper Guinea in the Kankan, Siguiri and Kourousa regions, but its roots are to be found in Hamanah, a canton of the prefecture of Kourousa. It is also called "the Dance of the Strong Men". The names of its various rhythms, of which there are a good twenty, are taken from their places of origin, from the names of the people they portray or to whom they are dedicated, from the characteristics of their structure or from the way the performers appear during the dance.

The "Dance of the Strong Men" as danced by the Malinke of Hamanah occupies a position that makes it more of a social ritual than an amusement, although this aspect is also not ignored. It takes place in the Bara, the space for dancing that every village possesses and which has a large tree, either a Kapok or Mangrove, planted in the center. The circles of men or boys are formed around the tree, each circle representing a social or age group (kare). The Baranti, the masters of the Bara form the group that assumes responsibility for the smooth running of the festivities. They are the first to dance, and no-one else can use the Bara without their agreement. Although the Dunumba is reserved for men as its name indicates, women could take part by dancing at one side or by coming to the centre to enliven the atmosphere."...
That article includes quotes from different sources about dundunba, and brief descriptions of various dundunba rhythms.

Click for information about dundunba drums

These videos are presented in chronological order based on their publishing dates on YouTube with the examples with the oldest dates presented first.

Example #1: Kouyate (Djembe y Dum Dum)

levy Braunstein, Uploaded on Dec 21, 2006

Toque tradicional de Djembe y Dum Dum, no se que pais creo que de Mali o Guinea, si saben mas diganme que me interesa conocer..
Traditional rhythms of djembe and dundun. I'm not sure if this is from Mali or Guinea. If you know please tell me.
Comment from David Langer, 2007
"el toque es uno de los ritmos Dunumbá de Guinea ,cro que es el Dunun gbé"
English Translation: This is one of the Dunumbá rhythms of Guinea. I think it's the Dunun gbé.

Comment from andres luis sanchez bustos, 2009
"yo creo q es de guinea por que kouyate es la familia y si buscas en internet sale que la familia kouyate es de guinea ;)"
Google translate:
I think guinea q is that Kouyate is family and if you search the internet goes guinea Kouyate family;)

Example #2: Dununba Traditional Guinea 2008 Sangbarala, Guinea

Embedding disabled by request

Alan Tauber, Uploaded on Feb 13, 2009 Traditional Dununba 2008 at village of Famoudou Konate. Many of my friends are dancing:) From DrumConnection Trip to Africa Educational Experience Nov 2008. Sangbarala Guinea.

Example #3: Sangbarala Dundunba

GUINEA ~Djembe~, Uploaded on Jun 29, 2011
2010 DEC.

Example #4: Kaba Keita カバ・ケイタ ドゥンドゥンバ 演奏 doundounba

Keiko Ishida, Keiko Ishida Uploaded on Sep 17, 2011

Sarankoro, a small village in the Hamana region. 2011

Kaba plays with American, Abu, Ibru and Kemo
Kaba is also drumming in the video given as Example #2. In that video he's wearing blue and is the lead jembe player.

Example #5: Dundunba Dance - Baradata Dunun (Gbendo, Guinea, December 2011)

Traditional Malinke Music from Guinea (and some other things), Published on Jul 3, 2012

This rhythm is called Baradata dunun which literally means "drums for walking to the Bara (the village centre or open area). The drummers begin at the chief drummer's house and walk to the "bara". After a while you see the dundunbafola arrive with his instrument and the rhythm eventually changes to Kon/Dunungbe. and lastly Gbada. The drummers will play Kon-Gbada 3 times and by the end of the third time the dancers should have arrived and then the fete begins. This was filmed at 8am on the third day of the Baradasa celebrations.

Drummers are;
Petit Namory Keita (Baro) on djembe
Lai Kouyaté on sangban
Mamady "Sakala" Condé on kensendeni
and eventually Mamady "Roi" Kourouma on dundunba.

Example #6: Dundunba Dance - Kon, Denmusoni Kelen & Gbada no.2 (Gbendo, December 2011)

Traditional Malinke Music from Guinea (and some other things), Published on Jul 18, 2012

Kon, Denmusoni Kelen and Gbada being played in Gbendo, a village near Kankan in Guinea, West Africa. This was the first day of 3 days of celebrations for the Baradasa.

You can see at the end of the video how they begin Kon again, slowly. Kon is usually played 3 times at the beginning of a Dundunba fete.

On djembe we have Mamady "Sakala" Condé and another Mamady from Baro.
On sangban Lai Kouyaté
On dundunba Mamady "Kassa"
Notice that one boy in this video is wearing a shirt with a picture of United States President Barack Obama. Another boy is wearing a shirt with the brand name of the American company "Addidas".

Example #7: Dundunba Dance - Kontèmudu & Bilakorodundun (Gbendo, December 2011)

Traditional Malinke Music from Guinea (and some other things) Published on Jul 18, 2012

The rhythms Kontèmudu and Bilakörödundun played in Gbendo.

The drummers are
Mamady "Sakala" Condé and Nansady Kourouma on djembe solo
Lai Kouyaté on sangban
Mamady "Roi" and Mamady "Kassa" on dundunba


oscar javier, Published on Jan 19, 2013

Fiesta dundunba en sangbaralla con el gran maestro NANSADY KEITA
English Translation: Dundunba Sangbaralla party with the great master NANSADY KEITA.

Example #9: Faceli Kourouma & Moussa Oularé - Morowaya,Guinea 2013 (Part 2)

Jason Elbracht Published on May 15, 2014
Faceli Kourouma - Djembe
Moussa Oularé - Sangban

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  1. This is a revision of a post that was titled "Guinea, West African Dundunba Rhythms & Dances (Information & Videos) ".

  2. gives this description of various African traditional dances. It's description for "dundunba" reads:
    "Most popular in the country of Guinea, Dundunba symbolizes the strength of the Earth�s natural pulse. The strong rhythm calls people together to demonstrate their strength and ability to challenge each other and battle through dance."
    I have lots of questions about traditional dundunba dancing (as opposed to the dancing at dundunba parties). What is the significance of various groups of men dancing in their separate lines. How are these different lines established? Is there some criteria which determines which line men dance with? There seems to be older men leading or directing each line. Are these men chosen by their dancing skills or otherwise? Are the lines men wearing black pants with white geometric designs the "real" dundunba dancers (part of some group or groups) and the men who aren't wearing those pants and the rest of that outfit including the hand held items, just people from the community who want to dance or people from the community who weren't selected or initiated in dundunba groups?

    And does one line of dundunba dancers compete with other lines of dancers?

    I ask these questions with all respect and appreciation for this cultural art form. Thanks for any responses to my questions.