Senegalese Music: Exploring the Heart of West Africa

Since the 17th century, Africa and its inhabitants have been major contributors to world music and its culture. This article focuses in one of the nation’s genres in particular, Senegalese music.

History of Senegalese Music Music

Senegalese music is a style which is native to the West African geographical area. It evolved from the combination of several other genres over the course of generations, such as the traditional Mandinka, Wolof, and Serer musics which merge with French, Latin and Islamic genre influences.

Types of Senegalese Music

Senegalese music can be broken down into 4 major types:

    • Sabar Music: This type of music originates from the Serer culture, and is usually played to accompany traditional dances. It is composed of bass drums, bell and a solo singer.


    • M’balakh Music: This kind of music is used to accompany birth rituals and wedding ceremonies. It is commonly played with percussion instruments such as djembes and balafons, as well as clapping and vocals.


    • Griot Music: This type of music is played by a traveling musician who plays the traditional kora instrument. He plays and sings traditional songs about popular heroes or heads of families.


    • thioubalo Music: This type of music is also played with a kora but with a modern twist. It includes a combination of traditional rhythms and melodies along with contemporary pop elements.


Famous Senegalese Musicians

Senegalese music has produced many world class musicians, such as:

    • Youssou N’Dour: A Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and percussionist who has composed hit songs such as “7 Seconds” and “The Guide”.


    • Baaba Maal: A critically acclaimed singer and guitarist who has released numerous albums including his 2015 release “The Traveller”.


    • Cheikh Lo: He is an afro-pop singer and producer who is known for integrating Senegalese music with other world influences. He is also the founder of the Black Star Line label.


    • Ismael Lo: He is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who is popular for his album “Tasonry” which combines traditional African rhythms with pop music.


There are numerous other Senegalese musicians out there who are making a name for their country, their culture and their music.


In conclusion, Senegalese music is a unique and diverse style which has its roots in African traditions and has also been influenced by other international genres. With a long history and distinguished artists, it continues to move and inspire many people for generations to come.