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The Beauty of African Rhythm: An Introduction to Traditional West African Instruments


K-12 School Program presented by Uasuf Gueye

Using an extensive knowledge of West African history and culture, Uasuf Gueye presents an exhilarating performance that is both intellectually stimulating and emotionally captivating. In this brief lecture demonstration suitable for all ages, Gueye introduces some of the most popular instruments of Manding, West Africa. He provides a unique experience that allows participants to see how these instruments are played, learn how they are constructed, and learn how they are used within traditional society. In this highly energetic presentation, he aims to educate and entertain by presenting music and historical information in a way that is intriguing and tangible for any audience.

Students will learn the names of each instrument, what materials go into constructing them, and basic techniques for playing them. They will learn which modern day countries in West Africa belonged to the Manding Empire along with the basics of the languages spoken by Manding people. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with performers as they try out some of the instruments themselves.


Residency, workshop, and other program descriptions also available here.


Short bio

Born in Washington, DC, Uasuf Gueye belongs to a family of Nguewel/Diali, or oral historians and musicians. He began his study and performance of Manding and Wolof music at a very young age. Uasuf is a dynamic djembe and dundun drummer as well as a skilled instrument craftsman. He also plays the 21-key Bala, which he learned first with his teacher, Cheick Hamala Diabate and other master artists of the Manding tradition of West Africa. Uasuf has dedicated his life to the task of becoming an ambassador of African culture to the world. The catalyst for such a responsibility is the passion he has for reconnecting those of the African Diaspora to one another. His repertoire ranges from traditional songs from the 13th century to contemporary original compositions incorporating blues and jazz riffs.



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