Vocabulary from the field of mind
GRIOT (gree'ot), n.
A storyteller; among the peoples of West Africa, the
singer-poet who recounts tales of heroes, recites the geneologies of the
great, and preserves and desseminates the precious traditions of a given
society; the griot's main function is to keep an oral history
of the tribe or village
A class of professional musician-entertainers
among the Wolof society of Senegal and Gambia. The
griot in Senegal is a troubadour who recites poems, or tells of
courageous deeds, drawing upon his own sources of inspiration, which, combined
with rhythm, produces an intense effect upon the entire community.
Their performances, which include
stories chanted to the accompaniment of a 5-string halam, reflect
a mixture of African and Muslim cultures.
The singer-poet is an important part of all world cultures;
An early example would be the blind Homer, who, presumably accompanied
by his lyre, sang of gods and heroes. Similar traditions survive even today
in Greece and the Balkans.
In Ethiopia where many traditions remind one of Greece,
the azmari accompany themselves with a lyre or fiddle. In
North Africa and West Africa griots sing and play skin-bellied
lutes called gunbri or halam; in Morocco they play and sing alone in the
squares of the towns for coppers. In Senegal (where they perform in groups)
they are employed by the wealthy. The Japanese biwa was used to accompany
epic narratives, the texts of which usually concern the adventures and
battles of the samurai; it is also used to accompany Buddhist chanting.
In medieval Europe, minstrels sang of the heroism of such as Charlemagne.
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