Maloya - Bambara / Bobo - Balafonrhythms - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic Balafon


Last edited on 8 April 2021

M Maloya is balafon piece made by Aly Keita for his CD “Akwaba Inisene”. Maloya means “Shame” in Bambara.

‘Maloya is (also) a music genre of Réunion, usually sung in Réunion Creole, and traditionally accompanied by percussion and a musical bow. Maloya is a new form that has origins in the music of African and Malagasy slaves and Indian indentured workers on the island. Maloya was considered such a threat to the French state that it was banned in the 1970s.’ (Source: Wikipedia). In Mozambique, Maloya means, “incantation, witchcraft”, Madagascar Maloya means “talk, disguise” and other language in Africa Maloya means “grief, pain, discomfort”. (source: Waasi ‘Tikaf’ Nguvu).

Pattern A is a traditional African pattern. Youssouf and Ali Keita are said to have composed a song to the rhythm as well. The message would be: “If you love something, you should try to be the best at it too.” That goes for all the things you do. Even a thief should want to be “the best in his business.” So far I have only picked up some snippets of the text from the second part:

i ke ra fè fè fè so, i ke ra fè
i a ka wa nè, ba ra wa nè
i a ka wa nè, balafon wa nè

The left hand for pattern A can also be used to accompany the melody being played on the right. The right hand for pattern A – played on the left – can also be used as an accompaniment to the melody being played on the right.



Youssouf en Kassoum Keita, Konsankuy, Mali 2012.
The Dutch formation Havelok played Maloya for NPORadio4 in February 2021.

update history
  • 8 April 2021: Pattern A split, made a simple variant of B and C
  • 26 March 2021: information added about Maloya as musical style from Reunion.
  • 14 March 2021: Hand setting adjusted in melody and pattern B1 and B2 adjusted
  • 7 March 2021: Added melody line for alternating hands
  • 21 February 2021: New on the website.
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