Bolo Do Bolo La - Bambara - Balafonrhythms - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic balafon

Bolo Do Bolo La / La Clé

Last update on 9 November 2021

BKnown as Boro Domborola; but the actual name of the rhythm is “Bolo Do Bolo La”. In Bambara, Dioula and Malinke, this means “Hand in Hand”. The song consists of only a few lines, but there is a whole story behind it with symbolism and life lessons. The sentences are important sentences from the story that name the message of the story.
The story is about a boy who wants to invite his girlfriend to spend the night together in a room. The girl has the key to the room. In parallel, the boy’s parents follow the scene of the two lovers. The boy’s mother is not happy with the fact that the girl manages the key, nor with the girl opening the door for her son. The mother calls the girl a “bitch”, a woman who is too easy with men. The father is doesn’t agree with his wife because she does not have the right to disqualify the girl as a slut. He tells his wife that the children are still young; “If the girl is a slut, then our son is too!” The balafonists name “the key” (of the room) as the crucial thing that matters. The piece is therefore also called “La Clé” (the key). The song inspired me to come up with some solo accompaniment phrases myself.

(i) Bolo do Bolo la , Bolo soumalé bè (1a)
La Clé do Bolo la, Clé soumalé bè (1b)
(Dogo Fara adds: ‘mè do mè do bo ma – nou ba lé ti nwa’)
Mogo ta fô (wali) dén ko soungourou ba, i ta bi bolo la i to laban don (2a)
Mogo ta fô dé ba Kamalén ba, i ta bi bolo la i to laban don (2b)
Tamagnon son fô mogo kana tamagnon son fô son ban bèla (3)
Tamagnon son fô son si kana tamagnon son fô son ban bèla (3)

Put your hand in mine, because yours is fresh (1a)
The key in your hand is (also like that) fresh (1b)
Don’t talk about that girl like she’s easy
she could be your daughter; do you know her future? (2a)
Do not speak of that boy as if he were a easy
he could be your son; do you know her future? (2b)
Never talk about your friend’s bad character,
because everyone, you too, have bad traits (3)

(Soungourouba is a woman who is (too) easy with men, Kamalénba is a boy who is (too) easy with women.)

Bolo Do Bolo La

During one of the study trips, we followed Youssouf and his band Super Zama Za to the Bwaba village of ‘Borokuy’ in the former ‘Bwaba country’ (Burkina – Mali border region). The band went there to play at a village festival and there was plenty of improvisation to make the performance a success.

This is a preformance by Neba Solo, with the (Senoufo) titel: Bakoro


A track from the album Sabagnouma: Balafons et Tambours of Africa



DVD by Aly Keita & Gert Kilian, the Album Walila from Dogo Fara,
additional information on signification from Youssouf Keita. Album from Sabagnouma: Balafons et Tambours de Burkina Faso. Neba Solo met nummer ‘Bakoro’.

Update history
  • 9 November 2021: Layout PDF made more compact
  • 4 February 2020: Neba Solo – Bakoro audio track added
  • 8 December 2019: Added variaties in Pattern B
  • 8 September 2019: New!
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