Traditional Music in the Gambia : the role of traditional musicians in a society of change

University essay from Karlstads universitet/Institutionen Musikhögskolan Ingesund


The aim of this research is to find out more about traditional music in Gambian society, to get a wider view of the tradition and what is happening to traditional music in a modern society. Furthermore, I want to find out if the informers consider that the traditional music is fading away from the society and if, in that case, any actions are being taken to preserve the tradition. The research question is: How do the traditional masters in the Gambia consider the role of traditional musicians in a modern society?


The research method consists of making observations at Maali’s Music School and in the E.C.C.O cultural camps in Njawara and Berefet, and interviews with traditional masters of different tribes.


The results of the interviews show that the informers consider that the traditional music is ‘fading away’ from the society, that the role of traditional music in the society is changing and that there is no great support or protection for traditional music in the Gambia. Documentation of the music and interviews made by researchers from abroad often ends up in Europe and is seldom returned back to the informers. With regard to things that could be done to keep traditional music alive, the informers give the examples of building schools for teaching the tradition, teaching traditional songs in the ordinary schools and finding places for traditional masters to gather, where they can discuss, teach and play together.

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