Music from Niger has received little international attention unlike the music of its neighbours Mali and Nigeria. But there is a vibrant music scene in Niger which remains a mix between traditional and new music styles particularly Rap Nigerien.
Many of the ethnic groups in Niger cross the boundaries between countries. In French colonial times each ethnic group kept their own music traditions, but, since the death of Seyni Kountché in 1987 and free elections in 1999, the relaxation of governmental control has encouraged traditional and mixed styles of music to flourish.
- Tuareg music in Niger is probably the best known internationally. Traditional Tuareg music tends to be gendered with women’s music using Tinde drums with clapping and men’s music using a one-stringed viol. Tuareg Blues is the most famous of the Tuareg music styles typified by players such as Abdallah ag Oumbadougoufrom Agadez and his band Takrist n’Akal, Moussa ag Keyna’s group Toumast, and the performer Mouma Bob.
- Nomadic Wodaabe and Fulani have a tradition of group singing with stamping and bells and have griots who are a caste of traditional praise singers. The Gerewol Festival is a showcase for this musical style.
- The Beriberi use complex group singing.
- Djerma and Songhai around the capital Niamey are solo singers and players who use lutes, flutes and string instruments, and have griots.
- The Hausa also have a griot caste and use lutes, drums and wind instruments including a kind of shawm and a trumpet which can be extremely large.
Modern Nigerien Music
Nigerien Hip Hop or Tuareg Blues crosses ethnic boundaries and is a mix of ethnic styles and languages. Through participation in the Festival in the Desert in Mali and promotion by international record producers Nigerien music is becoming better known. The European Development Fund helped to found The Centre for Musical Training and Promotion in 1990 to retain cultural heritage and encourage modern Nigerien music.
A great site for exploring African music is http://www.musicvideos.the-real-africa.com. They have a page specifically on Music Videos of Niger which is really worth exploring.
Here is a video of a Tuareg wedding with music by Koudede.
The group Mama Kassey combine traditional Songhai music with modern jazz. I particularly liked this recording by them of
Dadayé Houmé which has some great Niger pix in it and some closeups of Nigerien instruments.
Another video I like of Mama Kassey is Denke Denke played by