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Music

Malians love to dance, and not only at festivals and celebrations. Anytime there is a gathering and the mood is right, people will immediately start dancing. While mask dances are performed as traditional events, dance parties and the like are organized within families and neighborhoods as part of daily life.
Dancing requires songs and musical instruments, though not just anyone can perform this role, which is again the station of the griots. In Mali it is considered shameful for anyone other a griot to sing, and music class is not part of school curriculums.
Before the advent of writing, the griots were storytellers who used music to recount history. Their narrating of the history of extended families is hereditary and carried on throughout the generations. They will always be asked to perform at festivities held by the head family, where they sing songs praising the family's ancestors and the head of the family. For their singing they receive money, houses, cars and other huge remunerations.
After gaining independence from France in 1960, traditional music, negated during the colonial period, was performed using contemporary musical instruments, and became popular music. Its popularity is reflected in the appearance of musicians such as Salif Keita (unusually a musician not of griot heritage) and Mory Kante, having huge hits in Europe. The music of these musicians, incorporating arrangements of traditional music, is full of variety, from leisurely pieces sung in a smooth voice to those whose lively rhythm makes one want to dance, and appeals also to the foreign ear. Griots have always sung about history and family doctrines. Thus many of the lyrics of contemporary popular music that employ ethnic words contain phrases praising the kings of ancient kingdoms or are exceedingly moralistic in tone, reminding one to always respect one's superiors or that greed is wrong. Nevertheless, all Malians, irrespective of age or sex, are fond of griot music, and griot music forms an indispensable part of Malian life.
In recent years, it has become possible to find CDs of Malian music in Japan and eastern Asian countries. Musicians in the vanguard of Malian popular music have also visited Japan to hold concerts, Salif Keita, Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate etc. having done so on a number of occasions. Many Malians enjoy the music as music, rather than to listen to moralizing lyrics. This way of experiencing the music should be all the more possible for the Japanese listener.

 
 
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