Térété - Bwaba / Bobo - Balafonrhythms - Paul Nas
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Pentatonic balafon


Last edited on 10 March 2023

Dutch French

TTérété is about discussing things going on within a couple in a fruitful way. It is a song that women in villages use to indicate that they want to discuss something important with their husbands. It could be anything. If the husband hears it and starts singing along, it is a good sign for the expected conversation.

It originated from a story about a Bwa couple, where the atmosphere is not so good because the husband – when he drinks – has ‘an evil temper’. When he has consumed alcohol, he is no longer kind and loving towards his wife and children but instead is troublesome and aggressive. The wife and children in the family suffer from the nasty behaviour of their husband and father during his drinking. To bring up his bad behaviour during that alcohol consumption usually does not work and so one day his wife does so while he is sober and she is busy with household chores something like pounding the millet, or grinding flour on the millstone or doing the laundry (something with rhythm to which you can sing a song). While singing, she names his evil drunkenness and the trials that it brings to the wife and family. She also names in the song that she prevents him (in a sober state) from touching her at night and then tells him that he is insufferable when he drinks! He starts singing along and the ice is broken to discuss this difficult subject!

Now when the song is sung and the man answers singing along, the ground is set for a fruitful conversation! In the song as sung now, some lines from the (original) story emerge that are characteristic of the situation.

Térété Téré: The burden of bad behavior!


Especially for the balafon meeting, Youssouf recorded videos to prepare me in advance and to be able to do my analysis and practise the patterns. But he also made videos that could be shown in case we couldn’t get a live connection during the balafon meeting itself. It’s a nice introduction to the rhythm on video!

This video is subtitled! So please use the subtitles!

Chorus: Térété Téré, Térété Téré
followed by one of the following four phrases:

Song 1: Térété Téré mi Hana ma Bara Térété Téré
Burden on wife due to their husband’s bad behaviour


Song 2: Baro nè Téré yi bèn sé, lo bèn zùn Han nè sìn lo (2x)
The man with an evil temper does not care if his wife is miserable

Han nè Téré yi bèn sé, lo bèn zùn Baro nè sìn lo (2x)
Bad-tempered wife doesn’t care that her husband is miserable

Han nè Téré yi bèn sé, lo bèn zùn Zo nè waa wèè
Woman with bad behaviour, doesn’t even know her baby is crying


Chorus: Térété Téré, Térété Téré
followed by the following phrase:

Song 3: Térété alcolicoli yùna bèn zùn bio ho waa wa ba nììì
The alcoholic doesn’t care about the danger and damage alcohol causes in the home


Chorus: Térété Téré, Térété Téré
followed by one of the following four phrases:

Song 4: To nian nian nìììì an bèn nian nian oo
Don’t touch me and I won’t touch you either
To pa pa ni an bèn pa pa oo
I touch you when you touch me
Oo njan njan nì ma njan njan oo
You do not caress me, nor do I caress you
Òo pa pa nì ma pa pa oo
If you hit me, I’ll hit you too

Youssouf and his son Ahmed play Térété as we should be able to play it.


Youssouf Keita, with video introduction launched at the Balafon meeting of 4 February in Tilburg, the Netherlands.

Update history
  • 10 March 2023: Meaning updated
  • 24 February 2023: Text updated.
  • 18 February 2023: Pattern C in PDF corrected, also English and French version
  • 8 February 2023: PDF complete makeover
  • 24 January 2023: New
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