Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mali, my musical home (?)

Not exactly a historical entry, but perhaps relevant to the experience of a teacher of world history.

Sometimes when I work at home I listen to one of the 30 Galaxie "radio" channels that come with my satellite TV package. One of my favorite channels is the World Music channel. A funny thing: 9 times out of 1o, when I hear something that I really like, it is music from the West African country of Mali. Or from neighboring Senegal, where some of the music is quite similar. Or failing that, it might be something by Madagascar Slim, from much more distant Madagascar (though last I heard, he now lives in Toronto).

This magnetic pull of Malian/Senegalese music is rather odd, since it's not all the same by any means (apart from choice of instruments). And I've never been to either place, or anywhere in Africa. But there is some essential quality that pulls me in.

You may not have Galaxie (though if you live in Canada, you may without knowing it!), but there are many Web radio stations available free. The Web can be not just your picture book of the world, but your world jukebox.

Image: US bluesman Markus James and the Wassonrai, Malian musicians.

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