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Artist Profiles: African String Band 3MA – World Music Central

Artist Profiles: African String Band 3MA - World Music Central

The trio known as 3MA is a contemporary ensemble of African world music, featuring three musicians who play diverse stringed instruments. Ballaké Sissoko from Mali plays the kora, Driss El Maloumi from Morocco plays the oud, and Rajery from Madagascar plays the valiha. The name of the group is derived from the initial two letters of the countries of origin of each member, which are Mali, Madagascar, and Morocco.

Their artistic career began when Moroccan oud player and composer, Driss El Maloumi, met Rajery, a Madagascan musician who plays the valiha, an 18-stringed tubular zither, in Agadir in 2006. They conceived the idea of creating an innovative African group using only stringed instruments without percussion or rhythm sections. They thought that their instruments would complement one another well, and they needed a third instrument to broaden the sound range, so they invited Ballaké Sissoko, a prominent kora player from Mali, to join them for a series of workshops and concerts sponsored by the local French Institute, which took place in Madagascar a few months later.

In addition to producing their own albums, 3MA also participated in The Routes of Slavery, a musical project. The artistic director of the audio and video recording, composer and viola de gamba virtuoso Jordi Savall (Spain), invited them to contribute compositions for The Routes of Slavery. Driss El Maloumi, who has played the oud on several albums with Savall, worked with the group on this project.

Their second album, Anarouz, was released almost ten years after their first recording. Along with mainly instrumental pieces, it also features the musicians singing in their respective languages, which include Bambara, Malagasy, and Arabic.


3MA (2008)
Anarouz ((Mad Minute Music/Six Degrees, 2017)

with Jordi Savall’s Hesperion XXI:

The Routes of Slavery (Alia Vox, 2016)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel is also co-founder of the Transglobal World Music Chart. Angel has also produced and remastered world music studio albums and compilations for labels such as Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, and Music of the World.


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