If there’s any instrument in the quiver of American music that can simultaneously summon heartbreak, salvation and joy, it just might be the banjo. Its earliest origins lie deep within the Black American experience. And that’s where Angela Wellman came to find it.
John Tyree (1914-?) performs a rendition of the traditional Scots-Irish ballad-turned American banjo standard “The Cuckoo Bird” (Sometimes known as “Coo Coo Bird”, or simply “Coo Coo” or “Cuckoo”). The song in its American form has little relation to the original Scots-Irish ballad and has considerable influence from African American traditions.
Bernard Diedhiou is a Jola akonting player from the Kognout region of Casamance, who lives with his family in Saly, Senegal. Here we meet with him in the neighbouring town of Somone, where he played songs for us both solo and along with his group “Kadjamour”.
The buchundo is an instrument similar to the akonting (ekonting) played by the Manjago people of Senegal and Gambia. Lauren discusses the buchundu and answers questions from Chuck Levy and Greg C. Adams.
The right hand used to play the buchundu is different from the motion used by the Jola akonting players. The Jola right hadn techniques is nearly indentical to minstrel/stroke style and clawhammer.
Watcha plays the song Basungouté. The akonting (or ekonting) is a folk lute of the Jola people. Filmed by George Smerin in Kafountine, Senegal 2018.
Daniel Laemouahuma Jatta plays an akonting (ekonting) song composed by his father.
The akonting is an instrument of the Jola people of Senegal and Gambia. Daniel's right-hand technique is of particular interest.
The Jola of the Cassamance region of southern Senegal have named this downstroke technique "o'teck", meaning "to strike". O'teck is virtually identical to the first banjo style documented, "stroke style", and to the contemporary style known as clawhammer or frailing.