Name: Balofon.

Type: Struck > Percussion > Idiophone.

Region: Many > Cote De Ivory > West Africa.

Specimen: mine is from Cote De Ivory (Ivory Coast).

Dimensions: Scale Length cm.

Acquisition Date:

Acquisition Source: A friend, from trip in Vietnam.

Description: The balafon is a member of the tuned-percussion family of musical instrument. It is classified as a struck idiophone as the entire instrument vibrates when producing sound after being struck. Through out West Africa the balaphone is found through out Guinea, Ivory Coast. Balafon are traditionally tuned in a pentatonic (five note) scale. The training to become a good balafon player is very intense. They undergo long hours of playing the musical instrument in terms of mastering complex rhythms and techniques. Many students are known to faint due to physical exhaustion during the training.

The Sosso Balafon: The Sosso balafon is basically a historical description now transmitted in stories from the Jali [story tellers and performers] to audience. The story of the sosso balafone is told by the Jali still today [see the web site].

The Descendants: The marimba and xylophone maybe considered the most well known descendants of the Balaphone. The Marimba also made of wood is a similar percussion instrument struck with two mallets that is found all over in Latin America. A marimba having metal keys is used in classical, jazz to pop and other musics.

Construction: During the process of construction, the balafon they would make a frame that supports the hard keys. The gourds are located underneath the keys they serve as resonance chambers. Each individual gourd has a carved hole that has the fibres of a spider egg sack covering the hole. About 17 to 21 keys are tied onto the top of the frame. For the majority of balafon they are often tuned to the pentatonic scale. The mallets are hand carved and also the mallet end is carved from vulcanized rubber from automobile tires.





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