Creatives Uses of Low Tech in Bamako Recording Studios (Mali)

Emmanuelle Olivier, Amandine Pras

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Mali, the introduction of 3G alongside growing access to digital audio technologies throughout the 2010s has led a sharp increase in the number of recording studios. Using an ethnography of Bamako studios, we establish a theoretical framework and a methodology to remap music production studies beyond the limits of a Northerncentric narrative. We discuss the notions of high, low and alt tech, and lofi and hifi within the 2010s’ recording studio literature. Drawing upon the description of a tradi-trap production, this paper contrasts local discourses and uses of globalized technologies to highlight the constraints and capabilities of studio practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of New Music Research
Early online date19 May 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Dr. Emmanuelle Olivier is an Ethnomusicologist, Senior Research Fellow at CNRS (Georg Simmel Research Centre), and Lecturer at EHESS in Paris. Emmanuelle has worked in Mali since 2001 on the creative process of popular music production, questioning how the digital revolution impacts music practices, professions, and collective imagination. She is currently directing an international partnership funded by the National Research Agency on Digital Cultures in Western Africa. Her publications include World Music. Tradition through the prism of Creation (2012); Works, Authors and Rights: Music and Dance in Globalization (2014); Art Creation and Imagination of Globalization (2017) and Digital Cultures (2022).

Dr. Amandine Pras is a Lecturer in Sound Recording and Music Production at the University of York (UK), and a Research Associate at Centre Georg Simmel at EHESS in Paris. Her work explores how the democratization of digital audio technologies has transformed music production practices from a global perspective. She carries out interdisciplinary partnerships that aim to enhance audio education access and equity, diversity, and inclusion in the recording studio. A graduate of the Paris Conservatoire, she engineered and produced albums in Banff, Montreal and New York in 2007-2021, directed a music documentary in West Bengal in 2015-2018, and has conducted fieldwork in West Africa since 2018.

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