Sounou (Sunu, Sunun) is a rhythm from the Kassouke-people from the Kayes-region in Mali. ‘It is played as competition-dance-rhythm for young men’ (Mamady Keïta). ‘Sounou a popular rhythm dating from the pre colonial era. In that period once lived a pretty girl called Sounou Mamady in the village Sagabari. She was know for her dancing qualities and participated on any dancefestival that was organized. The rhythm is made by the Djembéfola from her village honoring this girl Sounou Mamady. The dance is presented after a good harvest. The girls can practise their grace, beauty and sometimes seduction. For the young men (especially Kaarta) a opportunity to show their strenght and vitality while making all sorts of acrobatic jumps’ (Serge Blanc).
Now Sounou is a rhythm often played all over West Africa. No wonder there are many interpretations and variations. Some people speak of the ‘Guinea-Sounou’ and the ‘Mali-Sounou’. The difference could involve the placing of a bass-drum-hit on the 7th (Guinea) or 8th (Mali) pulse. Although patterns for the duns can be found for different bassdrums, the melody of these drums together characterize the Sounou melody . In Mali usually only two drums are in used, so the Kenkeni is often added (by the Malinke, who in some areas play with three drums) and in different patterns possible to play.