Balafon

The balafon is a pentatonic or heptatonic resonated frame xylophone of West Africa. The Susu and Malink people of Guinea are closely associated with it as are the Manding peoples of Senegal and The Gambia. Famous balafon players include El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyaté, the grandfather of Famoro Dioubate. It usually has 17-21 keys. The keys are cut from béné wood and suspended on a wooden frame, over calabash gourd resonators of graduated sizes resulting in a continuous nasal buzzing sound due to a small hole in each gourd covered with a membrane made of a paper thin spider's egg case. Balafons are played sitting down,or by attaching a strap to the frame, they can be played while standing.

more...