Mamoutou is what the West Africans call a street drummer. He began playing jembe and dancing in Mali where he grew up. Now he lives in Bouaké, Ivory Coast, where he leads a group of twelve musicians. See Mamoutou in action by clicking on the image. Other videos and file formats are available on the videos page
Mamoutou plays in social gatherings for people to sing and dance. The playing of a soloist at such festivities must be both powerful and precise. He must quickly catch on to what rhythm is required for any song which starts up and be able to start playing immediately and in phrase. A deep understanding of the singing and dancing of the different ethnic groups which are present is required of him. An overly ornamental style of playing interrupted by frequent drum breaks would only get in the way. Long discussions about the traditions of different villages don't apply here. The musician must play just what the people who have come to the party expect him to. For a few years now, Mamoutou has also been playing keyboards for certain gatherings. See the page on jembe and electric piano.
In Bouaké, there is singing and dancing every day of the week. On thursdays are the big marriage parties. Professional griots sing with microphones and powerful sound systems, accompanied by jembes, dununs, and electric piano. The rest of the week, there are smaller gatherings, most often in the courtyards of individual homes. The atmosphere is more intimate and there are fewer musicians, just one or two jembes and a single dunun. The women present do the singing themselves without amplification or with a simple megaphone.
Musicians can also be called on to play for fetish ceremonies, most often at night.
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