06 June 2011

Remembering Dimi Mint Abba, Messenger from God

Sad to hear today (via freedomblues) that the world has lost a powerful voice. On 4 June, Mauritanian singer Dimi Mint Abba passed on. Born Loula Bint Siddaty Ould Abba in 1958, she was a griot -- perhaps the best known one from Mauritania -- whose performing career started in 1976, accompanying herself on the ardin.

Abba’s music is a modernization of the griot/griotte tradition that was reserved for members of the iggawin : a low caste that served the warrior caste as praise singers, oral historians, and poets. Reflecting the history and ethnic composition of Mauritania, the iggawin musical tradition blended Arabic, Berber, and Sudanic influences. A strict set of musical rules that saw little change between the late eighteenth century and the mid twentieth century governed the music of the griots/griottes .
Musical performances followed a specified progression of modal structures that led the performance through three modal “ways”: black (lakhal) to spotted (zzraag —mixed black and white elements) to white (labyad). The most important musical instruments used by the iggawin were the tidnit and the ardin. Oral transmission from parents to children maintained the iggawin musical tradition, and Abba learned her skills as a griotte from her mother. (more here)

Listen to a 2009 interview with Dimi Mint Abba
Read/hear more about Dimi Mint Abba at Mondomix

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