The main ethnic groups are Mandinka, Fula, Wollof, Jola
& Sarahule. Each of these groups has its own particular
traditional music & dance forms associated to particular
musical instruments. The Mandinka have the Jalis (oratorical
folk storytellers) who use the Kora lute & sing.
Local musical instruments are made from local materials
such as wood, hide, calabash gourds & horns.
The Djembe is a drum is common to all
ethnic groups and are played at events marking rites
of passage such as ceremonial weddings, naming ceremonies
and social gatherings. The Boucarabou
are played by the Jola which is comprised of several
drums with different pitches which is played all at
once by the same drummer. For bass beat musicians use
the drums and for melody they use the Koras, Balafon,
Xalams and Bolonbatas. The Jalis from the Wolof people
developed a wide variety of instruments that have become
staples of today's semi-traditional and popular music.
In most areas, Wolof music was rhythmic rather than
melodic. Jalis accompanied their highly energetic, predominantly
monotone speech-song with the Sabarro
(Djembe), the highest drum. They also used the Bellengo
as their bass drum. The Jola and Manjagos use the Bombolo
which is an idiophone created from a long without animal
There is the calabash called the Sheikeire which is
covered in sea shells or local beads and is shaken with
the hands to create a rattling beat.
This is an earlier version of the kora used by the Diola,
it resembles the shape of the kora but has a curved
shaft and only 6 strings. It may date from the 13th
The Wolof (and some of the Serere) have three kinds
of lute-like stringed instrument. Each type produces
different sounds but they all have a long, wooden oval-shaped
body covered with skin.
This is a one-string lute played with a horsehair bow
originating with the Toucouleur, Mauritanians and the
A long hollow calabash which is played by old Wolof
and Serere women by striking rhythmically with a piece
of wood. One does not have to be a Griot to play this
A simple string attached to a stick, this instrument
makes a whirring noise, which, when used during
circumcision and death rites, protects the initiate
and drives away the soul of the departed.
Other percussion are gourds covered with beads or shells,
rattles, bells or whistles and, something which everyone