SOAS University of London

Department of Music, School of Arts

Lucy Durán

BMus, MMus(London), PhD(London)
  • Overview
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Lucy Durán
Department of Music

Senior Lecturer in African Music

School of Arts

Senior Lecturer in African Music

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


Dr Lucy Durán
Email address:
020 7898 4374
020 7898 4699
SOAS University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Tuesdays, 3-5pm


Lucy Durán (PhD SOAS, BMus MMus King’s College, London) is Senior Lecturer in African music at SOAS. Her main interests are West African music and culture, and her principal field of research is Mande music, which she has been researching on location in Mali, Gambia and Senegal since 1977, with special reference to the jelis (‘griots’), the kora, and women singers. Her research project, ‘Growing into Music in Mali’ resulted in two in-depth films that document the musical progress of children in leading Mande jeli (griot) families in both rural and urban environments in southern Mali and upper Guinea. They are available for viewing online and include unique footage of children learning music in leading griot families, shot by Durán on location in Mali and Guinea between 2009-12.

Durán has a long professional involvement with the music industry, working as music producer, journalist and broadcaster. She was the regular presenter of BBC Radio 3’s flagship world music programme World Routes for the duration of its lifetime on air, 2000-2013. She has produced more sixteen albums, including Segu blue and I speak fula by Malian ngoni player Bassekou Kouyaté (nominated for a Grammy Award in 2010), Kassi Kasse by Kase Mady Diabaté (nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004), and six albums by Grammy award-winning kora player Toumani Diabaté, including the 2014 release, Toumani & Sidiki (World Circuit, 2014) – nominated for a Grammy Award, 2015. She is also project advisor to the Aga Khan Music Initiative (Aga Khan Trust for Culture), for their work on music in Mali.  


Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Crispin Robinson, Technicians of the Sacred: Generating transcendence in Afro-Cuban orisha worship. An ethnography of praxis in bata drumming.
  • Estrella Sendra Fernandez, Two-tier festivals in Senegal between the local and the international: A case study of the Festival of Folklore and Percussion (FESFOP) in Louga, Senegal
  • Hannah Bates,
  • Michele Banal, Mapping of professional music making in Bamako.


My research focuses primarily on music from/within the Mande cultural region and its diaspora, and is driven by my interest in promoting better understanding of and safeguarding oral traditions from the region. My outputs have therefore included radio documentaries (BBC Radio 3), film (Growing into Music in Mali) and CDs (various) released through the world music industry, as well as written outputs in both academic and non-academic journals. I am interested in the following topics with reference to the Mande world: gender and music; the role of women singers; songs as story and history; notions of musical mastery; weddings as a locus of performance and contestation; methods of oral transmission; creativity and music production in the recording studio; local forms of 'popular' music; conversations with the blues. In addition, I work on (and teach) the popular music of Cuba, and its ongoing connections across the Atlantic.


For help in contacting SOAS academics and advice on services to business and the community, please contact SOAS Enterprise on +44(0)20 7898 4837 or email
For all press and media enquiries please call +44 (0)20 7898 4135 or email

Available for
  • Radio
  • Press
  • TV
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
Regional Expertise
  • Africa
  • Global
Country Expertise
  • Cuba
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Mali
  • Senegal
  • Spain


Edited Books or Journal Volumes

Duran, Lucy and Furniss, Graham, eds. (1999) Sunjata, Gambian versions of the Mande epic by Bamba Suso and Banna Kanuteh. London: Penguin.

Book Chapters

Duran, Lucy (2015) 'Soliyo: song and memory in Mande music.' In: Harris, Rachel and Pease, Rowan, (eds.), Pieces of the musical world: the study of music in culture. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 27-44.

Duran, Lucy (2015) 'Growing into music in Mali –perspectives on informal learning in West Africa.' In: Economidou, Natassa and Stakelum, Mary, (eds.), Every learner counts: democracy and inclusion in music education. Innsbruck: Helbling Verlag, pp. 49-64. (European Perspectives on Music Education vol. 4: )

Duran, Lucy (2006) 'Mali: gold dust by the river.' In: Broughton, Simon and Ellingham, Mark and Lusk, Jon, (eds.), The Rough Guide to World Music. 3rd edition. Africa and the Middle East. London: Penguin, pp. 219-238.

Duran, Lucy (2000) 'Women, music and the ''mystique'' of hunters in Mali.' In: Monson, I, (ed.), The African Diaspora: a musical perspective. New York, NY: Garland Publishing, pp. 137-86.


Duran, Lucy (2014) 'Toumani & Sidiki: reviving ancient strings.' Songlines, 100.

Duran, Lucy (2014) '“Our stories, from us, the ‘they’: Nick Gold talks to Lucy Durán talk about the making of Buena Vista Social Club”.' Journal of World Popular Music, 1. pp. 135-155.

Duran, Lucy (2013) 'Poyi! Bamana jeli music, Mali, and the blues.' Journal of African Cultural Studies, 25 (2). pp. 211-246.

Duran, Lucy (2013) '“Poyi! Bamana jeli music, Mali, and the blues”.' Journal of African Cultural Studies, 25 (2). pp. 211-246.

Duran, Lucy (2011) 'Lucy Durán (2011): Music Production as a Tool of Research, and Impact, Ethnomusicology Forum, 20:2, 245-253.' Ethnomusicology Forum, 20 (2). pp. 245-253.

Duran, Lucy (2011) 'Music production as tool of research, and impact.' Ethnomusicology Forum, 20 (2). pp. 229-232.

Duran, Lucy (2008) 'The kora: tales of a frontier instrument.' World Circuit Records.

Duran, Lucy (2007) 'Ngaraya: Women and Musical Mastery in Mali.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 70 (3). pp. 569-602.

Duran, Lucy (2003) 'Mali’s songbird, Oumou Sangaré, & Radio as research.' BBC Radio 3 documentary.

Duran, Lucy (1995) 'Birds of Wasulu: freedom of expression and expressions of freedom in the popular music of southern Mali.' British Journal of Ethnomusicology, 4. pp. 101-134.


Duran, Lucy (2015) Trio Da Kali. World Circuit . [Audio]

Duran, Lucy (2014) Toumani & Sidiki. World Circuit . [Audio]

Duran, Lucy (producer) (2009) Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba / I speak Fula. Out Here Records. [Audio]

Duran, Lucy (producer) (2007) Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba / Segu blue. Out Here Records. [Audio]

Duran, Lucy (producer) (2007) Mano Suave: Yasmin Levy. Harmonia Mundi/World Village. [Audio]

Duran, Lucy (producer) (2003) Paraiso de gumbe: Manecas Costa. BBC Late Junction. [Audio]

Duran, Lucy (producer) (2003) Kassi Kasse: music from the heart of Mali’s griot tradition: Kasse Mady Diabate. Discos Corason, EMI Hemisphere. [Audio]


Duran, Lucy (2015) The Voice of Tradition: Bako Dagnon and her Family. SOAS [Growing into Music]. Available from

Duran, Lucy (2013) Da kali – the pledge to the art of the griot. . Available from

Duran, Lucy (2013) Do farala a kan: something has been added. Growing into music in Mande griot culture. . Available from

Duran, Lucy (2013) Da kali – the pledge to the art of the griot, Growing into Music in Mali part I. SOAS. Available from

Duran, Lucy (2013) Do farala a kan: something has been added. Growing into music in Mali part II, 80-minute documentary film. SOAS. Available from

Duran, Lucy (2012) Growing into Music: Childhood music learning in India, Azerbaijan, Mali, Cuba, Venezuela. . Available from

This list was generated on Mon Jun 26 03:14:12 2017 BST.