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Toumani Diabate - The Mande Variations (2008)

Waking up at nearly 11 a.m., still having headaches of your late-night studies, rushing to your coffee cup to pour your eyes some wariness, looking outside to see if the earth is still breathable, cursing what 2020 brought to and took away from your life, taking a glance to your Spotify to find a peace of mind, wasting hours to pass by, then it happens...

Spotify autoplay has assisted our lives more than any of your friends could ever. I was instantly hit by the traditional melodies coming out of Diabate's koro, which is a West African string instrument that combines the elements of harp and flute instruments. I was never aware of such an instrument, and can't describe how I felt connected to what I am listening to. The warmth behind the simplicity of the melodies along with the tonality and natural sound of the instrument itself was more interacting more than everything I was listening to at that specific time and made me discover the music of Diabate more.

The Mande Variations is the 2008 studio album of Toumani Diabate, a kora virtuoso that has been a crossroad for West African globally under-appreciated African traditional music with jazz, orchestral music, and many other Western traditions. Unlike other recordings of Diabate, this album lacks other instruments and you can hear his kora playing thoroughly. Setting these orientalist reactions beside, it also shows the creativity of Diabate that uses different textures with each track yet still can produce a coherent outcome. He is one of the most interesting figures that show many other elements of the art we call music, getting honored by the West by a Grammy nomination.

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