Yaya Diallo is an author and musician from Mali, who now resides in Montreal and who is internationally renowned for his book The Healing Drum.
As a musician and composer, Diallo has a series of releases that concentrate on the healing and devotional aspects of traditional African music.
On his latest release Kachii: Traditions to Traditions, Diallo and his musical collective combine the traditional African instruments played by Diallo (balafon, djembe, talking drum) with the Western string instruments (violin, cello. double-bass) and flute and vocals.
Diallo explains: “Kachii: Traditions to Traditions is an album of ‘lost’ and ‘hidden’ music from the Minianka culture of south-eastern Mali. My goal is to play Minianka balafon music with traditional Western instruments—violin, cello, double-bass, flute—as well as African percussions—djembe, talking drum, and dounou—to create a new sound that can open doors for listeners worldwide. The selection of music in this recording draws from a repertoire of ‘lost’ and ‘hidden’ music which is no longer played in Minianka villages.”
Well, now this music is neither lost or hidden and on this reveals quite an interesting element through Diallo’s combination of traditional African and ‘standard’ Western instruments.
In many ways there are comparable similarities with the music of some modern classical composers that concentrate on rhythmic patterns and repetition like Philip Glass, Terry Riley or Steve Reich.
At the same time, Diallo was able to make a good balance between the traditional African music and the way it sounds on Western instruments (“Hakili”), driving clearly home the point that music is a universal language no matter where it originated.