#worldgeochat Playlist 2.16.2016: Primary Sources

TOPIC: Primary Sources

Tonight's #worldgeochat touched on teaching geography with primary sources. As a inspiration for the creation of tonight's playlist, I focused on a cultural sound itself as a primary source. Below are three of my own principles for music as a primary source in social studies and geography education.

  1. Traditional (i.e. pre-modern, non-electronic) musical instruments are regionally specific technologies created through the use of locally or regionally sourced materials and designed to maximize sound production in symbiosis with the sonic topography.  (NCSS C-3: D2.Geo.6; D2.Geo.10; D2.His.9-13)
  2. Songs and lyrics are historical documents that describe events of a specific time, place and perspective. (NCSS C-3: D2.His.1-15) Songwriters are influenced by their surroundings and use their medium to vividly describe the visual topography and events.
  3. Music is a fundamental aspect of human cultural development, used to express universal themes through regionally and culturally unique forms. (NCSS C-3: D2.Soc.6-7; Anthropology: Appendix D Concept 1.)

Instruments are Artifacts, and Songs are stories. Here is the Griot/Jali Foday Musa Suso of West Africa playing a Kora.  http://


Provided to YouTube by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Apollo (Sauta Tuning) · Foday Musa Suso Kora Music from the Gambia ℗ 2004 Smithsonian Folkways Recordings / 1978 Folkways Records Released on: 1978-01-01.

Following a sound can reveal a migration or forced migration in the case of African music coming to the Americas. From West Africa   to North American, the Kora influenced the creation of the Banjo.

One of my favorite old time tunes. I play Darlin Cori in low "c" tuning. I love the warm mellow sound of a gourd banjo. It's a more similar instrument to the original banjo made on plantations by African slaves all through out the southern US and carribean.

From an ancient tradition of storytelling in West Africa, the role of the Griot became the North American blues singer. 

This video features Lead Belly's "Cotton Fields" from the 2015 box set 'Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection'. For more information about this album, click here: http://www.folkways.si.edu/leadbelly and for more information about Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the national museum, click here: http://folkways.si.edu/index.aspx.

QUESTION: This is the first recording of a song that probably originated from an oral tradition. Is this a primary source? 

This isn't the Led Zeppelin version...its the original one that legendary blues man Robert Johnson wrote way back when. And yes I first heard this on the CODA album from Led Zeppelin. You can see clearly how this inspired many great rock artists. So sit back and enjoy the music.

Fullcircle: From the Kora and Griot of West Africa to the Banjo and BluesSinger in North America and then back to West Africa with the original African Blues Man Ali Farka Touré. 

Live recording of the song 'Debe', from Ali Farka Touré & Toumani Diabaté's first album 'In the heart of the moon'. Filmed at Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, in 2005.