Performing <em>Baadinyaa</em>: Music, Emotion, and Health in The Gambia


  • Bonnie B. McConnell University of Washington



Gambia, Mande


This medical ethnomusicological study examines musical performance in The Gambia as a socio-emotional 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 long-term 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.

Author Biography

Bonnie B. McConnell, University of Washington

Bonnie McConnell is a PhD Candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington.Her research focuses on music, gender, and health in The Gambia, bringing together perspectives from medical ethnomusicology, global health and development, and performance theory.Her dissertation research and writing has been funded by fellowships from the Fulbright-Hays Program and the American Association of University Women. Bonnie worked as a health educator in The Gambia from 2006-2007. 




How to Cite

McConnell, B. B. (2015). Performing <em>Baadinyaa</em>: Music, Emotion, and Health in The Gambia. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 15(3).