Sunday, December 3, 2017

MAURITANIA – MAURITANIE
Musique Maure – OCORA 28, Recorded by Charles Duvelle, 
June 1965 (LP)
Moorish traditional music musique maure traditionnelle griot

Moorish traditional music musique maure traditionnelle griot

Moorish traditional music musique maure traditionnelle griot

Moorish traditional music musique maure traditionnelle griot

Moorish traditional music musique maure traditionnelle griot

Moorish traditional music musique maure traditionnelle griot

Moorish traditional music musique maure traditionnelle griot

I was sad to hear of the death of ethnomusicologist Charles Duvelle (1937-2017) on November 29. This great champion of traditional music greatly contributed to the preservation of a disappearing world in the age of globalization, when the rich diversity of our past is quickly being erased and forgotten.

Raised in Indochina, Duvelle was an accomplished classical pianist with a great ear, who reveled in new forms of music like Jazz. He made his indelible mark as general editor of the French label Ocora, whose many remarkable recordings had a qualitative impact that’s hard to overstate. Showcasing the complexity, diversity, and sometimes high level of abstraction of traditional music, such luminaries as David Byrne, Brian Eno and countless Jazz musicians have readily acknowledged the influence of these seminal LPs on their music and for opening new musical vistas.

Duvelle's field recordings of Senegalese percussions and the Mahi musicians of Benin were even selected by Carl Sagan in 1977 for inclusion on the Voyager Golden Records, which were carried into outer space for eternity by the Voyager spacecraft to represent the finest examples of mankind’s musical expression in case extraterrestrial beings were to find them one day. The inclusion of whale songs had everyone's consent, but Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode sparked a controversy, with folklorist Alan Lomax opining that rock music was "adolescent," to which Sagan sagely replied, "There are a lot of adolescents on the planet." 
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-on-voyagers-golden-record-73063839/?no-ist=&page=4

In honor of Duvelle, I share an anthology of Moorish classical music he recorded for Ocora (following Musique Centrafricaine – Ocora 43 showcased in a previous post). Performed by professional musicians from griot families, the standout here is the highly revered ardin harp player Mounnina, whose intense and powerful voice simply must be heard. An electrifying experience, even for occasional listeners. Mounnina, a woman who embodies Moorish culture, also recorded at least five truly sublime 45 rpm records, which I would be utterly delighted to present in this blog if someone has them! Mauritania holds a special place for me, having lived in the capital, Nouakchott, during my adolescence.

L'ethnomusicologue Charles Duvelle (1937-2017) vient malheureusement de nous quitter, le 29 novembre 2017. Ce formidable défenseur de la musique traditionnelle aura grandement contribué à préserver la trace d'un monde en voie de disparition à l'ère de la mondialisation, alors que la riche diversité de notre passé est rapidement effacée et oubliée.

Élevé en Indochine, Charles Duvelle était un pianiste classique accompli, ouvert aux nouvelles formes de musiques comme le Jazz, et doté d'une sensibilité musicale développée. Il aura véritablement marqué de son empreinte le label Ocora dont les enregistrements ont eu un impact qualitatif difficile à surestimer. Ils présentent la complexité, la diversité et le haut niveau d'abstraction des musiques traditionnelles, et ont inspirés des artistes comme David Byrne et Brian Eno, et d'innombrables musiciens de jazz, en ouvrant vers la profondeur, le merveilleux, la transe et l'étonnement, tout en élargissant les champs du possible.

Des enregistrements de Charles Duvelle de percussions du Sénégal et de musiciens mahi du Bénin ont même été choisis par Carl Sagan de l'Université Cornell en 1977 pour être inclus dans les Voyager Golden Records transportés la même année dans l'espace pour l’éternité par la sonde spatiale Voyager afin de présenter les meilleurs exemples d’expression musicales de l'humanité au cas  des entités extraterrestres venaient un jour à les trouver... Pour la petite histoire, si l'inclusion de chants de baleines semblait un autre choix évident, Johnny B. Goode de Chuck Berry suscita en revanche la controverse, avec le folkloriste Alan Lomax affirmant que la musique rock était « adolescente », ce à quoi Sagan répliqua avec pertinence: « Il y a de nombreux adolescents sur notre planète ! »

En guise d’hommage à cette grande figure tutélaire de la World Music, nous partageons cette anthologie Ocora de musique classique maure enregistrée par Charles Duvelle (après Musique Centrafricaine - Ocora 43 présentée dans un post précédent). L'album, avec des musiques interprétées par des griots professionnels, comprend notamment une plage de l’extraordinaire Mounnina, dont l'écoute de sa voix intense et puissante est une expérience électrisante, même pour l’auditeur occasionnel. Mounnina, qui incarne l’âme de la culture maure, a également enregistré cinq disques 45 tours sublimes que je serais plus qu'heureux de partager sur ce blog si quelqu'un en avait dans sa collection ! La Mauritanie est aussi un pays très spécial pour moi, ayant vécu dans la capitale Nouakchott pendant mon adolescence.

Download

Charles Duvelle and Hisham Mayet – The Photographs Of Charles Duvelle – Disques OCORA and Collection PROPHET (2017). A limited-edition, 296-page photography book with 2 CDs of unpublished audio compiled by Charles Duvelle.

A few years before his death, the beloved Malian author Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1900-1991) advised young Africans “to become good gardeners who know that a tree needs deep and powerful roots to properly grow and extend its branches in all directions in space. Once well rooted in yourself, you can without fear or harm, open to the outside world, both to give and receive.” 
Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Letters to Youth, 1985
(Translated from the French below).

Quelques années avant sa mort, l’illustre écrivain Malien Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1900-1991) conseillait aux jeunes Africains d’être « Ce bon jardinier qui sait que, pour croître en hauteur et étendre ses branches dans toutes les directions de l’espace, un arbre a besoin de profondes et puissantes racines. Ainsi, bien enracinés en vous-mêmes, vous pourrez sans crainte et sans dommage vous ouvrir vers l’extérieur, à la fois pour donner et pour recevoir ».
Extrait de : Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Lettre aux jeunes, 1985
http://www.deslettres.fr/damadou-hampate-ba-jeunesse-soyez-au-service-vie/

Below are photographs of griots and musicians taken from Musique, Honneur et Plaisir au Sahara – Etude Psycho-Sociologique et Musicologique de la Société Maure  - BEI 3 - by Michel Guignard, 1975
photographs of griots and musicians

photographs of griots and musicians

photographs of griots and musicians

photographs of griots and musicians

photographs of griots and musicians

9 comments:

  1. Thank you very much for this and other wonderfully illustrated posts,all these Scans and Photos.Truely great,that's what the blogosphere was made for...

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  2. Dear Bodhi,
    Thank you very much for your kind words. I am delighted you like it.
    All the best,
    MusicRepublic

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  3. Dear MusicRepublic,

    you share some truly wonderful jewels here, very original, and all hard to find. I especially like that you only post out of print material, staying away from commercial stuff and stick to vinyl and tape rips. Like Bodhi above so rightly wrote - this is what the blogosphere was made for! :)

    Cheers,
    Lucky

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    1. Dear Lucky,
      I'm delighted you like it. It's a lot of fun to share these gems and contextualise the music with text & pics.
      Stay tuned,
      MusicRepublic

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    2. Positive attitudes and an openess towards otherness like this is what the world needs now!

      All the best,
      Lucky

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  4. Dear Music Republic,

    Thanks very much for this very nice post of these Duvelle recordings. The Mounnina recording in particular is one of my favorites. Thanks also for the Guignard pictures. This book has been out of print for a long time!! I recently posted this Dimi mint Abba recording that you may enjoy.

    https://thewealthofthewise.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-dimi-mint-abba-archives-volume-3.html

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  5. Dear Matthew,
    Thanks for your comments. Will definitely check out your blog. Take care

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  6. Thank you for helping me recapture a long lost tingle down the spine. It's 30 years since I borrowed from my local library! Amazing.

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    1. It's my great pleasure. Yes these timeless gems are now totally forgotten among the tens of millions of indiscriminate tracks available to anyone today. When I hear something meaningful, even just once in my life, whether its funk, avant-garde, ambient, Indian raga, tribal music, or pop, it just somehow seems to be in me forever, in some inexplicable way, at once mysterious and familiar. "A long lost tingle down the spine" as you so elegantly put it makes perfect sense to me. Thanks for sharing this feeling.

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