International Instrumentation

October 1, 2007
Stay tuned: instrument maker Talton with a restored bass violin

Stay tuned: instrument maker Talton with a restored bass violin. Brenda Neece

Mamadou Diabate was born into a distinguished family of griots—musician-storytellers—in Kita, a Malian city that is a center for the arts and culture of the Manding people of West Africa. At an early age, he learned to play the kora, a traditional stringed instrument made from a gourd, from his father and his cousin, and began to assume the role of a griot. Following a tradition that's been passed along for centuries, he is now teaching his own nine-year-old son.

Diabate, who lives in Durham, is one of several musicians who will take part in a fall-semester lecture series on musical instruments organized by Brenda Neece, curator of the Duke Musical Instrument Collection. The programs will be held once a month, on Fridays at 4:00 p.m. in Perkins Library's Rare Book Room, and will each comprise a performance, lecture, and in-depth question-and-answer session.

Appropriately, Diabate, who is performing November 9, will be joined by his son.

Other fall lecturers include Ioana Sherman, a scholar who will demonstrate and explain the significance of the fluier and caval, two types of flutes common in southern Romania; Bob Talton, an instrument maker from North Carolina who will discuss his crafting of violins, violas, cellos, guitars, dulcimers, and banjos and show instruments in various stages of completion; and William Michal Jr., a banjo expert and collector who will talk about the origins and history of the banjo in the U.S., different playing styles, and the hobby of collecting instruments.