Boubou Tounkara

Boubou Tounkara — Tara

In my mind Sahelian music doesn’t get much better than this. You’re welcome to disagree. But that damn n’goni might knock you over… if the one-two of the tinkly keyboards and Mr. Tounkara’s vocalizations don’t KO you first.

Boubou Tounkara Tara

Face A



Alpha Yaya

Face B




Na Kadija


Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

August 31, 2012 at 11:46 am

I can’t disagree because I’ve never heard this stuff, but I’m really looking forward to trying it out… thanks very much!

August 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Fantastic stuff. The tinkly keyboard work is gamalanesquely delightful. Thanks.

August 31, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Hi Brian

I didn’t find much info’s about Bobou Tounkara; the N’goni’s are played in the Serakole (Serahule) or Soninko mood – you might have a look at Ganda Fadiga who’s well known in Mali, but pretty unknwown outside.

Quite a lot of Tounkara’s come from the nortwest of Mali, towards the mauretaninan border, which is “Soninke-land”, as well.


Matthew Hebergerreply
August 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Want to know more about this mystery artist! I think the tinkly sounds everyone’s talking about might be coming from a small xylophone? It sounds to me like a pretty talented balafon player rocking out on a child’s toy.

Can anyone say what language(s) he’s singing?

Lots of Tounkaras (like Djelimady) from western Mali near the Senegal border.

Matthew Hebergerreply
August 31, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Actually, now that I listen to side 2, I think it is a Casio…

August 31, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Boubou sings in Soninké, that sound like a game with a balafon is an electronic accompaniment, commonly used by griots especially in the town of Tounkara’s, Kita.

The songs are classics of the Mandé repertoire , dedicated to important Pular figures in the history of the land, therefore Boubou Tounkará I guess, belongs to the historic region of the Khasso.

African Music Recyclerreply
August 31, 2012 at 10:53 pm

awesome !!
greetings from vienna, austria

September 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

You may need some training to enjoy it but worth the effort!
Simply delicius
I really love it

September 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Ngoni – as always fabulous depth of knowledge, you continually amaze me! Thank you for this info.

And brian – wow, another winner!

September 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm

After hearing a couple of times the tape, everything is clearer.
It seems that Boubou is a Fune or Mabo, a “word keeper” that has requested the services of a guitarist (perhaps the late guitarist Fimani Diabaté) to make a recording.
Boubou is singing Soninké stories on the Mandingo repertoire of guitar melodies, resulting in a very interesting cultural mix.

Brian Shimkovitzreply
September 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Thanks Ngoni! As always, incredible insight into this stuff. You get the award for most valuable commenter.

September 17, 2012 at 3:54 am

I am feeling blessed to have found this website tonight! Thanks for posting this fantastic music.

September 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Wow. Trance-like or what?! An hour of zoning out & relaxing. Great stuff. Thank you!

October 23, 2012 at 9:29 pm

The only thing I can connect this to in my mind, oddly enough, is late-era Coil.

Gregg A Evansreply
May 28, 2016 at 10:30 am

Such a joy to be on this site and hear so many new and surprising ways to put music together. I am hooked.

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