Balafon, Burkina Faso to Vienna: An Interview With Mamadou Diabaté
When Diabaté is on stage playing the balafon, something magical happens between him and the audience. With his tight strokes, he makes the audience move. When this 46-year-old Burkinabe virtuoso is on fire and plays as fast as he can—which is really fast—the audience stands up and starts dancing. At the end of the show everybody is dancing like mad.
- Bastiaan Springer, Afropop Worldwide
Mamadou Diabaté, porte-parole du balafon Sambla
Le virtuose balafoniste burkinabé basé en Autriche fait découvrir au monde la richesse de la culture sambla, dont le balafon est le maître-instrument.
- Vladimir Cagnorali, Pan African Music
Sambla Rhythms Bring African Language to Life
The performance was impressive: the xylophone players were at times so fast that the mallets used to hit the keys could barely be seen. After a few songs, the public followed Mamadou’s invitation to stand up and dance, and the second half of the concert saw an entranced crowd dance to Sambla traditional rhythms, and sing along with the band....
"I didn’t expect to have as much fun while learning so much at the same time!" - said one student...
Samblan musicians induce a jubilee of expression with the xylophone
The balafons started, quietly at first, the notes inducing tingles on my spine. Suddenly they began to crescendo. Dembélé joined with his flute, adding in vocals that mimicked the same pitches as the flute itself. The sound was raw, freeing—a jubilee of expression. They began to play louder and louder, the small room becoming engulfed in rich sound. Mamadou began to sing, his voice husky yet soft like butter. The buzzing resonance underneath the clear pitches washed over us. It seemed to me that the musicians and instruments were radiating an energy and light. Every person in the room was immersed in the music. People smiled, swayed and tapped their feet, present in the moment. As I listened, I felt the urge to just run somewhere in an open field or dance.
- Sophie Welch, The Brandeis Hoot