Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze - "Sira" (A Contemporary Senegalese Griot Song Accompanied By Kora And Trumpet)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post presents an excerpt of the Wikipedia page on griots as well as information about the Senegalese griot song "Sira".

In addition, two YouTube examples of "Sira" are showcased in this post along with some selected comments from those videos' discussion threads.

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

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Ablaye and Volker Goetze and others who were affiliated with this film. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

"A griot ... jali or jeli (djeli or djéli in French spelling) is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet and/or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a societal leader due to his or her traditional position as an advisor to royal personages. As a result of the former of these two functions, he or she is sometimes also called a bard. According to Paul Oliver in his book Savannah Syncopators, "Though [the griot] has to know many traditional songs without error, he must also have the ability to extemporize on current events, chance incidents and the passing scene. His wit can be devastating and his knowledge of local history formidable". Although they are popularly known as "praise singers", griots may use their vocal expertise for gossip, satire, or political comment.

Griots today live in many parts of West Africa and are present among the Mande peoples (Mandinka, Malinké, Bambara, etc.), Fulɓe (Fula), Hausa, Songhai, Tukulóor, Wolof, Serer, Mossi, Dagomba, Mauritanian Arabs and many other smaller groups. The word may derive from the French transliteration "guiriot" of the Portuguese word "criado", or masculine singular term for "servant". These story-tellers are more predominant in the northern portions of West Africa.

In African languages, griots are referred to by a number of names: jeli in northern Mande areas, jali in southern Mande areas, guewel in Wolof, gawlo in Pulaar (Fula), and iggawen in Hassaniyan."...

From by Jerry D'Souza, November 30, 2008
"Ablaye Cissoko + Volker Goetze: Sira

Music has long transcended geographical and cultural barriers to forge new sounds. That bond is manifested once more in the collaboration between vocalist and kora player Ablaye Cissoko and trumpeter Volker Goetze.

Cissoko and Goetze met in 2001 at the African-European Jazz Orchestra rehearsals in Senegal, where they were to open for Youssou N'Dour. Out of that meeting came the decision to record together. It was a judicious one.

Cissoko plays the kora, a 21-string instrument. His mastery of the instrument is startlingly evident in the delicacy and musicality he draws from it. He makes it another voice, to accompany and embellish not only his singing but the trumpet of Goetze as well. Goetze's lyrical approach to the trumpet is in keeping with the mood of the songs, and his deliberation soothes and brings in a balmy air. The pairing of the two is spellbinding.

Cissoko is a griot: a storyteller and a bard. His words may not be understood, but their emotional impact is undeniable. His sense of phrasing and enunciation lend themselves to his art.

The music comprises traditional tunes which a griot can shape to circumstance, and compositions from both players. The first story that the two tell is of "Sira." It means "mermaid," and is also the name of Cissoko's daughter. The mood is established right off with the notes from the kora rising in crystal purity. Cissoko sings with tenderness and warmth, drawing the listener into the experience. With Goetze clasping the mood with his shimmering lines, the impression is unforgettable.

Goetze has made the music part of his vocabulary. He finds a rich lore on the Ghanian [sic] rhythm of "Bamaya." While Cissoko lets the kora dance on the melody, Goetze smears the lines with his trumpet before he expands the dynamics through jazz harmony.

Each song tells its story with grace and an earnest zeal. Through it all Goetze and Cissoko captivate and never let go.

Track Listing: Sira; Domain Domain; Lountang; Gorgorlou; Faro; Badingwoo; Bouba; Bamaya; Sakhadougou; Mansanni Cisse.

Personnel: Ablaya Cissoko: vocals, kora; Volker Goetze: trumpet.

Title: Sira | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: ObliqSound"
I added italics to highlight this sentence which provides information about the personal name "Sira".

Note that in YouTube video discussion threads for Ablaye Cissoko's videos, commenters wrote that he sings in the Mandinka language.

A portion of the song "Sira" is given at .03-.019 of the first trailer of the 2011 documentary Griot which is showcased on this pancocojams post

Here are the subtitles for that brief clip:

“Sira, Sira, Sira, Sira....
“The day Sira was born”
“The ocean was vibrant”

Example #1: Sira- Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze

Yohanan Assefa, Published on Jul 15, 2010
Here are three comments from this video's discussion thread about where Ablaye Cissoko is from (Note that one of those comments is from Ablaye Cissoko himself) (numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only)

1, Alex Rivera Dominguez, 2013
"Absolutamente hermoso, música de gran peso y calidad. Desde México un saludo. Where is from Mr Ablaye?"

"ablaye is from republica in mali africa"

3. Ablaye Cissoko
"No Ablaye is coming from SENEGAL . living in St Louis."
Here's some information about St Louis, Senegal from,_Senegal:
"Saint-Louis, or Ndar as it is called in Wolof, is the capital of Senegal's Saint-Louis Region. Located in the northwest of Senegal, near the mouth of the Senegal River, and 320 km north of Senegal's capital city Dakar"...

Example #2: Ablaye Cissoko & Volker Goetze Live at the Jazz Gallery 2010

Volker Goetze, Published on Aug 29, 2010
Here are some comments from this video's discussion thread (numbers are assigned for referencing purposes only)
1. Ndiagna Sene, 2011
"This song is amazing. I can't describe the comfort and pleasure it gives me."

2. Erdenelfe, 2011
"It´s great, beautiful ♡♥♡

3. Volker Goetze, 2011
"Thank you for your nice words. We have to thank all of our audiences. Your energy and presence at concert enable us to do what we do. Merci."

4. chino717171, 2013
"Does this track have a name? or is it a nameless live jam?"

5. Orchydee64, 2013
"the song is called SIRA"

6. Hamed Triqui. 2015
"I'll never have enough listening to Sira....all versions. Thanks and thanks again."

7. Volker Goetze, 2015
"Thank you very much! It is one of our stronger work.. There is something very special about Ablaye's song "Sira"..."

8. Hamed Triqui, 2015
"+Volker Goetze Thanks so much for answering Mr Goetze. I'm a Kora ( and Griots' storytelling) absolute fan since I was a kid and even for me Sira is very very special, I can tell you. The muted trump made a wonderful equilibrium/link between Ablaye's border and Satchmo's one, from roots to blossoming..."

9. Volker Goetze, 2015
"+Hamed Triqui For us too!!! Merci Beaucoup! When did you discover the kora and how?"

10. Hamed Triqui, 2015
"+Volker Goetze Je vous en prie, c'est du fond du coeur. My father used to have a Gambian "Djeli" friend. They were often talking about African traditional music ( I'm Algerian). As I was a kid, uncle Abdoulie brang a recording from one of the greatests korafolas, Nago Guèye. Things started like this, I was something like 10 yo and I can still remember every single note "exploding" from the old fashioned tape recorder."

11. Volker Goetze, 2015
"+Hamed Triqui Thank you so much for sharing this! Do you play an instrument?"

12. Hamed Triqui, 2015
"+Volker Goetze You're very welcome. One is also sharing with his own self you know, called nostalgia. you're the one everybody has to thank for sharing!
Amateurish guitar and Oud player. I've to say I'm much better when using my ears listening to real musicians. Even a single unit harmon mute is much better than I can ever be ^^"

13. Ancientafrica, 2015
"Why is trumpet included?"

14. Volker Goetze, 2015
"Dear Ancient Africa:

Our music is much stronger together. Peace!


15. Ancientafrica, 2015
"how? Not sure??"

16. Volker Goetze, 2015
"Listen... Music is truth... Can't hide..."

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