Transmutations in Senegalese Musical Poetry as Simulacra of Social Dialogs

Posted: 26 Mar 2014 Last revised: 1 Jul 2014

Samba Camara

Ohio University

Date Written: 2014


The paper proposes to examine artistic transmutations in Senegalese musical poetry (1970s and 2000s) in relation to social and political transformation. It draws mainly from Jacques Attali's (1985) development that music is both a mirror and a prophecy because, as he argues, not only does its mode of organization (or code) replicate current social organization, but also because once we know where music is heading, we can tell what the next social order will be. By focusing on the poetic essence of contemporary Senegalese music, the paper argues that the two predominant musical genres in the country, Mbalax (born from a mixture of Senegal's musical traditions and Latin-American beats) and Hip Hop Galsene (born from artistic influence of American Hip Hop culture), have emerged as two forms of 'national' artistic expressions in that they reflect 'hybridized' artistic features through which the Senegalese artist simulates a political effort towards transcending ethnic boundaries, while replicating a broader national order. Finally, by providing an aesthetic analysis of two songs taken as example, the paper shows how musically rendered political dialogs between artists can also displace and restructure features of a musical genre.

Keywords: Senegalese music, Senegalese poetry, Music and social dialog, Music and society

Suggested Citation

Camara, Samba, Transmutations in Senegalese Musical Poetry as Simulacra of Social Dialogs (2014). ASA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN:

Samba Camara (Contact Author)

Ohio University ( email )

Athens, OH 45701-2979
United States

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views