Primary Source

The Griots of West Africa

Griots in West Africa


Music has served as a language of memory in many cultures around the world. In West Africa, a Griot, or Jali, is part of a special, hereditary caste of individuals charged with knowing and retelling the stories and histories of the local people. Most often these stories are conveyed through music as a Griot will recount the genealogies and history of a people in song, usually accompanied by a kora, or a long-necked harp.

This source is a part of the Analyzing Music methods module.


"Postcard showing griot (musician and story-teller), c. 1904," British Library,

How to Cite This Source

"The Griots of West Africa," in World History Commons, [accessed February 6, 2023]