Yela is the music of women, as it mimics the sound they made when pounding grain. When performing the Yela, some women would hit the stressed third beat on their calabashes, while others carried the weaker first beat by clapping their hands. It is the Yela Jimmy Cliff heard when he visited Dakar; and it is reputed to be the primary influence for the development of reggae in the Caribbean. (from here)

Today we have been listening to Baaba Maal songs so I decided to add Yela to the list of Senegalese videos on this blog – if interested – you can find more info on Baaba Maal here and videos from Ismael Lo and Daby Toure here.

To explain a bit about yela music here is part of an interview with Baaba Maal on (You can read the complete interview here.)

Q: What is the Yela rhythm?

All kinds of music comes from the big empires like of the empire of Ghana, it was before the empire of Mali. At the beginning the people were using calabashes to make the rhythm. Women were singing the songs and sometimes men brought the music from them and told about the history of the village or the history of the society. Little by little we put in the African traditional guitar and after that we put the western guitar. In the 1960s years we put the western guitar and the music changed from its original way to something that was more popular, that everyone can use.

Q: Is there a connection between Yela and Reggae?

Yeah, they look close to the same because the way the Reggae music is arranged, the traditional African music that we call Yela is like that. The construction of the music itself looks close to the same. When you put a Reggae song in the villages, the women who used to dance the Yela, they still dance it like Yela because they feel that it is the same.

Baaba Maal – Yela