Cissoko is a big griot family nation that hails from West Africa, Senegal to Guinea. One of the younger members of this vast family is Tarang Cissoko. The griot is the musikmaker in society. His mother was a griot and his father was griot. With griots on both sides of his family line he is known as a griot shora. He is a born musician.
His siblings and half siblings are all musicians. They are based all over the world from Sweden to Norway, Paris and America. And we were recently blessed by having Tarang arriving on our beautiful South African shores and symbolically extending the reach of his ancient griot heritage.
The Ciisoko family is vast. His father had 22 children. Tarang is the second to last born. He lives with his mother. She bore of 10 of his fathers children. Tarang is the limelight of his career. He is burgeoning with brilliance. He plays both kora and djembe. It is on the djembe that he is already rated as one of the finest players, it is as a hopper that he shoots the breeze with his buddies, however it is on the kora that he is extending his international appeal.
He is self taught. The music has come to him and he plays in the traditional griot way. He is a singer too. He is very active as a musician in Dakar, keeping an extremely healthy lifestyle.
The harp like instrument, the Kora. With 22 strings, eleven on either side of tuning mast, it stays in the same key. Simply speaking, the kora, is music that greets the soul. The sound of the kora is like waterfalls of notes and textures, cascading, falling, rising, always evocative, like a prayer ancient and infinite. T he instrument itself is extraordinary in its handmade magnificence. The kora sings its own tune. The overtones arise in the interplay of melody and rhythm, as they pass together in cycles of harmony. With thumb the bassline sings and then the fingers of left and right hand play in call and response in their tight expanse of melody making. Sonic wonder, it is so content in itself. This is music. The music of meditation.
This music is fashioned over many life times, quite probably 5000 years of music making. It is amazing for its power, expanse, beauty and balance in the natural elements of life; earth, fire, wind, water, ether.
Together with his brothers and sisters in Dakar, the family play in a Cissoko heritage band called Ninkinanka. Ninkinanka is translated to mean dragon. The Cissoko brothers also play in a djembe ensemble, or troupe de djembe, called SILABA.
Tarang Cissoko; a humbling and growing experience to be in the presence of the power of this young man. When he is playing he is loosing himself in the music and making space for the muse to come through.
Herewith performance at Wits