Performing Baadinyaa: Music, Emotion, and Health in The Gambia

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    This medical ethnomusicological study examines musical performance in The Gambia as a socioemotional intervention to promote health and wellbeing. Based on interviews and observations conducted during seventeen months of ethnographic research (2009; 2012-2013), this research is also informed by my longterm involvement with a Gambian HIV/AIDS support group (2006-present). I use the local concept of baadinyaa (Mandinka, "positive relationship") in order to interrogate connections between musical performance, emotion, and health as they are articulated by performers and health workers in The Gambia. The concept of baadinyaa provides insight into musical performance as a "flexibility primer" (Hinton, 2008) that facilitates emotional transformation and healing. Not uniform across social categories, emotional responses to music are shaped by social identity and power relations as well as individual experience and preference. This study finds that in the face of conflict and stigma, Gambian artists use musical performance, and its association with baadinyaa, as a resource to address negative emotions such as anger and anxiety and thereby promote health and healing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-22
    JournalVoices: A World Forum for Music Therapy
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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