Xalam Traditional Musical Instrument.

Xalam, also spelled khalam, is the Wolof name for a traditional stringed musical instrument from West Africa. The xalam is thought to have originated from modern-day Mali, but some believe that, in antiquity, the instrument may have originated from Ancient Egypt. Many believe that it is an ancestor to the American banjo.

The xalam is commonly played in Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Niger, Northern Nigeria, Northern Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Western Sahara; it is also known in other languages as bappe, diassare, hoddu (Pulaar), koliko (Gurunsi), kologo (Frafra),komsa, kontigi (Hausa), koni, konting (Mandinka), molo (Songhay/Zarma), ndere, ngoni (Bambara), and tidinit (Hassaniyya Arabic).

Someone who plays the xalam is called a xalamkat (a word composed of the verbal form of xalam, meaning “to play the xalam”, and the agentive suffix -kat, thus meaning “one who xalams”).Xalam, also spelled khalam, is the Wolof name for a traditional stringed musical instrument from West Africa. The xalam is thought to have originated from modern-day Mali, but some believe that, in antiquity, the instrument may have originated from Ancient Egypt. Many believe[who?] that it is an ancestor to the American banjo.

The xalam is commonly played in Mali, Gambia, Senegal, Niger, Northern Nigeria, Northern Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Western Sahara; it is also known in other languages as bappe, diassare, hoddu (Pulaar), koliko (Gurunsi), kologo (Frafra), komsa, kontigi (Hausa), koni, konting (Mandinka), molo (Songhay/Zarma), ndere, ngoni (Bambara), and tidinit (Hassaniyya Arabic).

Someone who plays the xalam is called a xalamkat (a word composed of the verbal form of xalam, meaning “to play the xalam”, and the agentive suffix -kat, thus meaning “one who xalams”).
In most areas the xalam is played by male [[griots]], or praise singers who are born into the profession. It most often acts as a solo or duo instrument to accompany praise songs and historical recitations, and in some areas it may form part of a larger group including kora, drums, and calebashes. It is traditionally heard at weddings, infant naming ceremonies, and (always with amplification) is now a common member of folklore ensembles, popular ”[[mbalax]]” groups, and ”ndaga” variety shows.

Important past and present Senegalese xalam masters include Sàmba Jabare Sàmb, Ama Njaay Sàmb, Abdulaay Naar Sàmb (all from the Jolof), Abdulaay Soose (from the Saalum), and Bokunta Njaay (from the Bawol).

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