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Côte d’Ivoire: A Senufo-Fodonon - Funerary Vigil

Various Artists
Côte d’Ivoire: A Senufo-Fodonon - Funerary Vigil

The Senufo are an ethnic subgroup spread across Mali and Côte d’Ivoire that were studied intensely by French ethnomusicologist Michel de Lannoy, a specialist in West African music. Among the Senufo is a further subgroup of about 20,000 people called the Fodonon, who populate around fifteen villages in northern Côte d’Ivoire. Even in villages where they are the minority, Fodonon are regarded as masters of the land and rain.

The Fodonon have fought to preserve their social and religious institutions, including the music of funeral ceremonies. These musical rituals can last several days, as the people share the burden and sorrow of death as a whole community. The most prominent instrument is the bologbogo, literally meaning “big gourd” and equipped with a single plucked string made of antelope hide. The genre of music and the orchestras that use it are bolonyen, “the gourd people.”

The liner notes provide detailed context for the music, the funerals, and each song.

Please enjoy a free download of the song “Li Weri” by Bolonyen orchestra, Lataha (Yéo Clan)


This album is part of the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music. More than 125 albums are being released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to make the series publicly available, including a dozen never-released albums of musical traditions from around the globe.

Track Listing

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Ye fa ra nyu / Toni / La tre Bolonyen orchestra, Lataha 37:14
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Bolozyere Bolonyen orchestra, Lataha 2:43
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The solofolo Bolonyen orchestra, Lataha 4:26
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Li weri Bolonyen orchestra, Lataha (Yéo Clan) 1:46
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Li fugo nyige / Dongo Bolonyen orchestra, Waragnene 21:14
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Bolozyere Bolonyen orchestra, Waragnene 2:17
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Li weri Bolonyen orchestra, Waragnene 2:36