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 Source: A friend, from trip in Vietnam.
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 coraconnections.com].
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.
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.