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Rhythm-A-Day Blog for January 26, 2020: The Passing of Fadouba Oulare

Posted by Wolf Murphy on

The Passing of Fadouba Oulare 

Born in 1936, Fadouba Oularé was the first Guinean djembefola to be achieve world fame. His father was a drummer so Fadouba accompanied him to festivals and began learning his craft at a young age. His relatives went to consult a sorcerer while he was very young and werre informed that he would become a great drummer who would travel around the world. By age 15 he was the best drummer around.

After a stint in the army fighting for France (he enlisted to guarantee an income for his family) he journeyed to Conakry to attend rehearsals for "Les Ballets Africans". This was a ballet that Sekou Toure and Fodeba Keita were founding, just after Guinea's Independence in 1959, and they needed a lead drummer. He got the job and toured the world: France, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Netherlands, Algeria, Morrocco, the Soviet Union, China, Germany, Congo, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Vietnam, Korea, Japan and the USA.

His resumé continued to be quite impressive and he launched the careers of other Guinean drummers who were to become Grand Masters:

1961—head drummer of the Ballet d'Armee.

1964—founded Ballet Djoliba; recruited Mamady Keita

1965—gave his place in the Ballets Africains to Famoudou Konate

He had two more stretches in the military: from 1980 (when the Portuguese attempted to invade Guinea) until 1991, and he was recalled to the army again in 1995 to fight against Sierra Leonean rebels invading the Faranah region where he lived.

Instructional DVD by Fadouba Oulare
(Not currently available so if you find a copy snag it!)

Finally resettling in Faranah with his three wives and 34 children, he continued to perform and teach his sons as well as students who journeyed to him from around the world. He continued to travel to Europe to perform and teach. He was also the head of his clan, a renowned medicine man, and a famed hunter.

Fadouba died on 26 January 2010. He was one of the grand masters in the true Malinke tradition of the djembe as well as the ballets. He had a virtuosity and a series of his own created strokes that added colour to his playing, yet his playing embodied the old world of djembe. 

—Djembefola online

Fadouba was renowned for his playing for certain mask dances including Kawa and Soliwulen. Following are the traditional djembe parts, and one traditional solo phrase, as taught by Fadouba Oulare on the DVD shown above. 


Today's Video Lesson

Finally, here is a YouYube video showing Fadouba performing for the Mask Dance Kawa in  Faranah:

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