Balla Kouyaté’s Family Has Been Playing This Ancient Instrument For 800 Years

Balla Kouyaté plays at the National Heritage Fellowships Concert on Sept. 20 at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall in Washington D.C. (Courtesy Tom Pich and National Endowment for the Arts)

As a boy in Mali, Balla Kouyaté remembers playing the balafon to motivate workers on a farm. He was so small, he had to stand on a large rock to be seen by the crowd. An opportunity like that would often provide his family with enough food for at least six months, if not a year. The bubbling, penetrating sound of this African ancestor of the xylophone was an essential part of his upbringing, as consistent as laughter, an extension of himself.

“This is a constant sound in the family,” Kouyaté said during a recent interview, “a constant sound. Like as long as we’re not sleeping, you would hear this instrument.”

Orff Schulwerk Music For Children using the bass, alto xylophone and the glockenspiel

On Estonia’s Isle of Women a Colorful Folkloric Way of Life Survives

On Estonia’s Isle of Women a Colorful Folkloric Way of Life Survives

Welcome to Estonia’s Isle of Women
What would life be like without men? On this tiny Baltic island, it’s business as usual. But its colorful, folkloric way of life is threatened by a dwindling population.

‘Sound Portraits From Bulgaria: A Journey To A Vanished World’

Martin Koenig: “Sound Portraits from Bulgaria and the Balkans: Photographs and Recordings”

Princeton Library
Wednesday, October 23, 6:30 pm
8:30 pm
65 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542 United States

Smithsonian Folkways Presents  ‘Sound Portraits From Bulgaria: A Journey To A Vanished World’ (Out Nov. 1)

Martin Koenig arrived in Bulgaria in 1966 at age 27 with letters of recommendation from fellow recordist Alan Lomax and anthropologist Margaret Mead, an educator and cultural documentarian determined to study the folk dances of rural communities throughout the country. As he travelled, absorbing the culture and speaking with the people he encountered, Koenig became captivated by the earthy and ancient, yet very much alive, music he heard all around him. He recorded the music he was exposed to, and took photographs of not only dancers, but the village singers and musicians as well as those going about their daily lives around these hotbeds of creative expression. Enraptured with the people of Bulgaria, their way of life and the art they made, he returned several times between 1966 and ‘79, documenting everything he could.
Press Release

Sound Portraits from Bulgaria: A Journey to a Vanished World
Thursday, October 17, 2019, 6 p.m.

Program Locations:
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center, Bruno Walter Auditorium

Fully accessible to wheelchairs
Free – Online Reservation required

For over two decades, starting in the mid-1960s, ethnographer and Balkan dance specialist, Martin Koenig researched and documented traditional Bulgarian music and dance forms in their original settings. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, Koenig comes to the Library to reveal a forgotten and vanishing culture with archival photographs and audio.

Reserve your general admission seat HERE starting  September 17th, 2019.

Free General Admission Ticket
FM assistive listening devices available upon request with one week minimum advance notice.
Call 212-340-0918 or 212-340-0951 to request these devices.
ASL interpretation and real-time (CART) captioning available upon request. Please submit your request at least two weeks in advance by emailing

more on Traditional Dance

Roots of Folkdance
Hoedowns are the roots of southern square dancing. Jamison

Roots of Folkdance
other world cultures. ROOTS OF MODERN DANCE Performing Arts Dance

Educational CyberPlayGround: TRAUDE SCHRATTENECKER and Karen Ellis Biographical…
Toronto starting in 1970. Dance creates and develops rhythmical

Educational CyberPlayGround: Motivating children towards music by Greta Pedersen
in the marching band and dance band music of the day, which was

ECP: Linguistics – Why are some languages spoken faster than others?

ECP – Linguistics

Educational CyberPlayGround provides Linguistic information and resources for learning about languages like Creole, Irish American Vernacular, Black English, AAVE African American Vernacular,
Creole Dialect Speakers, ESL, Ebonics, and Pidgin.
Promote and improve the teaching and learning of languages, identify and solve problems related to language and culture, and serve as a resource for information about language and culture.

6/25/16 KE ~ “Language like Music is a Virus and it can infect broad swaths of the public rapidly.” If there’s no virality, if it’s not spreading, it’s not happening.

Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generations.” ~ Edward Sapir

“There are nine different words for the color blue in the Spanish Maya dictionary,” writes Earl Shorris, “but just three Spanish translations, leaving six [blue] butterflies that can be seen only by the Maya, proving that when a language dies six butterflies disappear from the consciousness of the earth.”

Why are some languages spoken faster than others?
New research suggests that different tongues, regardless of speed, transmit information at roughly the same rate
Sep 28 2019

WERE THIS article written in Japanese, it would be longer. A Thai translation, meanwhile, would be shorter. And yet those reading it aloud, in either language or in its original English, would finish at roughly the same time. This peculiar phenomenon is the subject of new research which finds that languages face a trade-off between complexity and speed. Those packed with information are spoken slower, while simpler ones are spoken faster. As a result, most languages are equally efficient at conveying information.

In a study published this month in Science Advances, Christophe Coupé, Yoon Mi Oh, Dan Dediu and François Pellegrino start by quantifying the information density of 17 Eurasian languages, as measured by the ease with which each syllable can be guessed based on the preceding one. Next, they record the rate at which 170 native speakers read 15 texts out loud. Finally, armed with data about the information contained in a piece of text and the speed at which it can be spoken, the authors derive the rate at which information is communicated.

The results suggest that there is an optimal range of speeds within which the brain can process information most efficiently. Speakers of simple languages pick up the pace to keep conversations brief. Speakers of complex languages exert more effort planning sentences and articulating syllables, causing discussions to drag on. Yet in both cases, information is conveyed at about the same pace. “It is like bird wings,” says Dr Coupé, one of the authors, “you may have big ones that need few beats per second or you have to really flap the little ones you got, but the result is pretty much the same in terms of flying.”


Workers’ Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain

Workers’ Tales: Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from
Great Britain. Edited by Michael Rosen. 2018. Princeton: Princeton
University Press. 316 pages. ISBN: 978-0-691-17534-8 (soft cover).

Reviewed by Simon Poole

This edited collection offers a tripartite selection of tales that
use traditional stories or traditional story forms; allegorical fairy
tales and fables; and moral tales. All of which were originally
published in various British periodicals between 1884 and 1914. It
also includes fairy tale illustrations and political images of the
period, which add some further interest but are not critically
examined in any way. The tales or socialist stories themselves are
presented unaffectedly yet clearly, allowing the reader to engage in
a period and cultural form that had a defined political intent: to
make socialism attractive and intelligible to children. It is this
very intention, and the possibility for it to be critiqued, that this
publication enables. The richness of metaphor in the tales, the
shared tropes of the socialist movement, and the explicit — or as
Rosen describes it — emblematic and symbolic language is exposed to
reveal clear and moving links between art, education, and politics.
It is within the copulae of these ideas that the stories of
resistance still echo in our time, and why this publication is an
unnervingly apposite read given the current political climate.

Rosen also provides thorough and illuminating concluding sections,
which provide explicative notes on aspects of the tales; citations
for the tales; alphabetically listed, biographical information on the
authors; and contextual information on the journals that first
featured the tales.

Before chronologically presenting these tales (some written by
luminaries such as William Morris), the work contextualizes their
original manifestation and historical usage by way of a detailed and
persuasively written introduction. Persuasive, that is, in regards to
the contemporary potential of the works. As Rosen points out in his
concluding paragraph, displaying or exposing societal structures and
processes through story allows the listener or reader to see how
these structures and processes “make the majority of people’s lives
such a struggle” (18).

The introduction is an innovative means of recontextualizing the
tales for the politics of our age; it offers them as a
counterculture, an alternative perhaps to what might be described as
a media-driven, late-capitalist society that otherwise imbibes
political standpoints from seemingly and increasingly extreme or
polarized perspectives. The book as a whole, then, while indubitably
being a fascinating and thorough piece of research in itself, could
also be used pedagogically in the classroom. The value would be to
open up debate; to present alternative perspectives; to challenge the
means by which politics is communicated to young people as a static

There is, of course, a situation in which the book might have less or
become of doubtful value or success. This would be if it were read
entirely as an ad hominem argument for a political ideology. Although
it should be stressed it does not read as if it were written with
this intention, to explain, I would call upon the reasons for which
folklorist Herman Bausinger wished to ally folkloristics more with
sociology than with any other discipline. Writing just after the
growth of nationalism and fascism of the Second World War, Bausinger
(1961) recognized that a balance was desperately needed that
disconnected folklore and political nationalism; that they had had a
long and at times unfortunate relationship. The manipulation of
cultural tradition and folklore into differing political ideologies
through the ages had in his view caused tragedy after tragedy. In
short, when folkloric items are misrepresented as the “spirit of the
nation,” often through a humanistic yet romantic lens, they can be
used in a nefarious manner, irrespective of the leaning of the
political machine willing the connection.

Nonetheless, the presentation of the works in this book successfully
avoid this pitfall, due to the careful rendering of the political in
a historical way. Ambiguously, though, the tales are not entirely
historicized, in that they are highlighted as relevant still today.
As such, they could be used or positioned in a methopedagogic sense
or within a framework of critical pedagogy to consider, for example,
the governmental mandate for primary schools in the education system
of the United Kingdom to teach “British Values.” As stimuli for
debate on this topic alone, the tales have great worth.

All in all, this publication is a timely yet time-honored evocation
of the enduring issues of inequality, injustice, and exploitation.

Work Cited

Bausinger, Hermann. Volkskultur in der technischen Welt. Stuttgart:
W. Kohlhammer GmbH, 1961.

UK’s National Trust Maintains That Folklore Is “Dying Out” Due to Social Media

“Head of National Trust Doesn’t Understand Folklore Despite Folklorist’s Attempts at Education.”

UK’s National Trust Maintains That Folklore Is “Dying Out” Due to Social Media

Mythical tales about mermaids, warriors and hidden treasure, walnuts to cure brain disease, dead beetles causing rain.
Such folklore has long been passed down from one generation to the next, enchanting children whilst also binding families and communities together.
But the National Trust has warned that advances in technology and social media is causing traditional mythology to die out as it is no longer relevant to modern lives.
It said that in a world dominated by smart phones and the internet, superstitions that were once believed to save the lives of miners and tales of magical blacksmiths were no longer of interest to children who have never ridden a horse or put coal on the fire.
Jessica Monaghan, the National Trust’s Head of Experiences and Programming, called on the public to share its knowledge of folklore from different regions of the UK in a bid to keep it alive.



Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival


This year, Arizona pays homage to California…

the Southwest Folklife Alliance and Alliance of California Traditional Arts

TMY is celebrating it’s 46th edition.



We celebrate the absolute uniqueness of Tucson’s culture and heritage, one rooted in the Sonoran Desert. But we also acknowledge our strong connections to California. Promoting the Human in the Humanities Promoting the Human in the Humanities

Born Digital: Since 1996 we have allowed the public to submit their K12 School website and edit their contact information.

Founded on the belief that it is the intersections that bring the reason for authentic community to exist, the connects the educators and community leaders, with a passion to collaborate, across disciplines and communities for the common good and the common wealth of the nation.

We wish to support Folklorists who will  lead K12 projects that help keep the human in the humanities. Visit:

Smack-Bam, or The Art of Governing Men: Political Fairy Tales of Édouard Laboulaye.

Smack-Bam, or The Art of Governing Men: Political Fairy Tales of
Édouard Laboulaye. By Édouard Laboulaye. Translated by Jack Zipes.
Edited by Jack Zipes. 2018. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
288 pages. ISBN: 9780691181868 (hard cover).

Reviewed by Sarah N. Lawson, Indiana University

[Word count: 783 words]

Jack Zipes’s newest addition to his abundant collection of translated
fairy tale anthologies is a book of tales written by famed French
politician Édouard Laboulaye, best known in the United States for
his contributions to the Statue of Liberty. His literary work is far
less famous than his political work, but Zipes set out to translate a
number of his tales into English to demonstrate how he used his fairy
tales and other fiction as another vehicle for his political and
philosophical thinking. The tales are delightful, and they offer a
look at a little-known aspect of fairy tale history contemporary with
the tale collectors and writers from the nineteenth century.

Zipes offers a thorough introduction to the collection, providing a
short biography and career history of Laboulaye — needed, as his
fiction writing is overshadowed by the rest of his career. The
introduction helpfully situates Laboulaye’s tales into the overall
history of tale writing in Europe. He notes that although they appear
to be written for children, they are “actually too sophisticated” (3)
to qualify as children’s literature, a category steadily developing
in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In fact, several of the
tales were published in the Journal des débats, a publication for
highly educated readers. Thus, as Zipes puts it, “Laboulaye used his
fiction to reinforce his political convictions and to avoid
censorship” (8). This, along with other aspects of Zipes’s portrait
of Laboulaye, resembles the introduction to Zipes’s previous work on
the French tale writers of the late seventeenth century, Beauties,
Beasts, and Enchantments: Classic French Fairy Tales (1989). His
useful claim that fairy tales are “part of the civilizing process” is
a term that appears repeatedly in his other work, indicating why
Laboulaye’s tales may have been of particular interest to Zipes.

The introduction offers summaries of Laboulaye’s longer works, such
as The Poodle Prince, Paris in America, and Abdallah, or the
Four-Leaf Clover, providing the reader with a better understanding of
Laboulaye’s interests and aims as a writer of fiction. These stories,
along with the tales provided in the collection, all show a kind of
moral reformation of the aristocracy, or a punishment for lack of
reformation. Their lessons are learned through magic or the actions
of lower-class characters, and not all of the stories have
happily-ever-afters. Zipes prefaces the collection by noting that he
has selected “sixteen unusually just and political tales” (20). He
presents them in chronological order from the period between 1858 and
1863 during which Laboulaye wrote fairy tales. The tales appear to be
inspired by similar narratives across Europe, including Italy and
Iceland, and adapted by Laboulaye for his own political and creative

The collection begins with the titular tale, “Smack-Bam, or the Art
of Governing Men.” It is the lengthiest of the tales, featuring a
snobbish prince who is so incensed when a girl hits him that he vows
revenge by locking her up after marrying her. The clever girl wins
out, but not before teaching the prince to be a more responsible and
humbler ruler. Indeed, humility is a prominent theme in the
collection, as both “Zerbino the Bumpkin” and “Briam the Fool”
feature protagonists with no cleverness at all who nonetheless
conquer tyrannical and greedy kings and ministers. These tales
resemble “Jack tales” in which simpletons win great wealth due to
great luck or the self-destruction of their opponents. Clever women
abound in the tales, often securing victory or safety for their male
relatives. However, Laboulaye’s criticism of the aristocracy is not
bound by gender, and vain queens and over-ambitious wives also

The latter half of the book features tales which are shorter and are
more clearly drawn from familiar tale types. “The Lazy Spinner” is
almost identical to the Grimms’ “The Three Spinners,” and
“Fragolette” is identified by Heidi Anne Heiner as a variant of
“Rapunzel” (ATU 310A) in her book Rapunzel and Other Maiden in the
Tower Tales From Around the World (2010). Similarly, “The Fairy
Crawfish” is a variant of “The Fisherman and His Wife” from the
Grimms’ collection. These examples, rather than weakening the
anthology, in fact enhance it and draw attention to the tales as part
of a thriving tale-collecting and tale-writing culture in the
nineteenth century. Further, Laboulaye’s political ideology, as
outlined by Zipes, is recognizable and holds true throughout the

The reader would benefit from referring to the introduction after
reading each tale, as Zipes provides short commentary on its
orientation within Laboulaye’s creative and political landscape.
However, the tales are entertaining reads on their own, and this
collection is a strong contribution drawing attention to a
little-recognized writer of fairy tales during this abundant period
of nineteenth-century Europe.