Jobarteh, Amadu Bansang. 1978. Master of the Kora. Eavadisc, EDM 101.
Jula Faso (The traders' tune).
Jula Faso is one of Amadu's showpieces, and here he plays it as an instrumental solo, with extensive ornamentation. It is an original kora composition, and, in common with Alla l'aa ke and Kelefa Saane, has an ostinato bass on which an independent melody is superimposed. Jula Faso is considered to be one of the more difficult pieces to play and consequently few musicians include it in their repertoire.
The song commemorates the splendour of the wedding feast that was held when Musa Molo married a Malian princess. The feast was attended by all the wealthy trader families of the area, including the Koras, for whom this song was composed. Amadu has recorded this piece for Radio Gambia, who presently use it as their signature tune. It is in Hardino tuning.
Durán, Lucy. 1981. "Theme and Variation in Kora Music: A Preliminary Study of 'Tutu Jara' as Performed by Amadu Bansang Jobate." In Music and Tradition: Essays on Asian and Other Musics Presented to Laurence Picken, ed. D.R. Widdess and R. F. Wolpert. 183–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Amadu Bansang is known especially for his instrumental solos, such as that on a recording currently used by Radio Gambia as their signature tune.1
1 'Jula Faso'; it may be heard on Radio Gambia at 12 midday and 5 p.m. daily.
Knight, Roderic. 1982a. "Manding/Fula Relations as Reflected in the Manding Song Repertoire." African Music 6 (2): 37–47.
Table One . . . includes the best known, most often heard, or otherwise significant songs in the [Gambian] repertoire. In each column the top few songs are the oldest, and the bottom few are the youngest. The majority in each case fall somewhere in between (often in the nineteenth century), but no chronological ordering beyond this is intended, since it is often not possible to date a song exactly. Most of the songs bear the name of their owner as the title. Where they do not, his name is shown in parentheses next to the title. The letter code at the right represents the person's "claim to fame" or calling in life, as shown in the bottom of the list.
Table Two shows the same fifty songs again, grouped this time by the ethnic background of the people commemorated.
Jessup, Lynne. 1983. The Mandinka Balafon: An Introduction with Notation for Teaching. La Mesa, Calif.: Xylo.
pp. 146–59 (Appendix 2: Balafon Repertoire)
|Translation:||Trader's vein (tune)|
|Calling in Life:||Trader|
|Region of Origin:||Manding (Western Coastal Region)|
|Date of Origin:||M (19th & 20th c. up to WWII)|
|Sources:||3 (R. Knight 1973)|
Knight, Roderic. 1984. "The Style of Mandinka Music: A Study in Extracting Theory from Practice." In Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, vol. 5, Studies in African Music, ed. J. H. Kwabena Nketia and Jacqueline Cogdell Djedje, 3–66. Los Angeles: Program in Ethnomusicology, Department of Music, University of California.
. . . a principal component of most jali songs is praise. A few lines from selected songs will convey the general nature of this theme.
The merchant has arrived—merchant with European silver and African gold—good-hearted merchant.
Jobarteh, Amadu Bansang. 1993. Tabara. Music of the World, CDT 129.
Traders (known as julas) have traditionally shown great generosity toward jalis, and are largely responsible for much of the spreading of culture throughout West Africa. A faso is a praise song. So Jula Faso means "Praise Song for the Traders." The piece conveys the personal respect a jali has toward his jula friends and patrons. The original song recounts the generosity of julas toward the jalis who played at the wedding of Musa Molo, who reigned in eastern Gambia during Amadu's father's lifetime. In this version, Amadu praises his own personal patrons.
Amadu recorded this piece many years ago for Radio Gambia which, to this day, still uses the recording as their signature piece.
Suso, Foday Musa, and Bill Laswell. 1997. Jali Kunda: Griots of West Africa and Beyond. Ellipsis Arts, CD3511.
Mandinka surnames reflect casted professions. Every name conveys the work of the family and its ancestors. "Jula Faso" is a song about trader families, those who deal with precious metals like gold and silver, as well as clothing and food. Some of the names, which listeners may identify in the lyrics, include Sighate, Darbo, Danso, Konteh, Bayo and Korrah.
Charry, Eric. 2000. Mande Music: Traditional and Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.
The people of Ghana probably spoke Soninke, the northernmost branch of the large Mande language family. . . . Soninke dispersed, with some establishing long-distance networks as traders. These traders, called Wangara in Arabic sources or Jula by the Maninka, were also well versed in Islam owing to their contact with Muslims coming from across the Sahara, and they were instrumental in spreading Islam in West Africa.
Garankelu are probably of Soninke origin and may have been part of the long-distance migrations of Soninke traders (Jula) and clerics (Mori) in search of new clients, supplying leather goods such as amulet cases, beginning in the eleventh or twelfth century.
Long-distance Soninke merchants known as Wangara or Jula may have been responsible for the distribution of gambare-derived names farther east.
Other well-known examples of instrumental music are . . . the solo kora rendition of Jula faso that is the signature tune for Radio Gambia.
Jawura is a popular dance rhythm from Kita, Mali, that may have originated on the bala . . . Sidiki Diabate considered it a wellspring from composers and cites it as the mother of the kora pieces Allah l'a ke and Jula faso.
Other well-known kora pieces include . . . Jula faso, dedicated to long-distance traders called Jula.
The qualification silaba (main road, main way) refers to a standard accompaniment pattern. For example, Jobarteh has his own ways of playing the piece Jula faso and also a standard way, which he calls silaba.
The lack of a ceiling on what can be given, and consequently on what can be expected or hoped for by praise singers, is illustrated in Jula faso, a piece dedicated to itinerant traders known as Jula. Amadu Bansang Jobarteh's (1990-per) renditions of Jula faso contained detailed descriptions of a battle among wealthy patrons gathered at the end of the wedding of Musa Molo, an important Senegambian leader, to see who can give the most to the singers and musicians.