The balafon, or bala Balani is a percussion instrument idiophones native to West Africa. It is a kind of xylophone, or pentatonic, or heptatonic. In Malinke (Malinke language), "balafon" just terms bala (instrument) and fundamental (rings).
Origin and dissemination
Balafons are found in many parts of Africa, all different from each other. Some are very sophisticated, some simple, some are so gigantic. However, it may be noted that two types of balafons tend to "democratize" in West Africa:
• Bala is the balafon to large pumpkins, and large blades (Kolokani regions and Bobo Dioulasso among others), sounds serious. [Ref. needed] This is sometimes called the balafon Bala Dyula (Dioula) or Bala Senoufo (Senufo). The number of blades in it and how to give vary by region, but balas 14 to 18 blades in agreement pentatonic are most frequent.
• Balani (neither is a diminutive), the balafon is in small gourds, the narrow blades (3 to 4 cm), usually used in orchestras, and the higher range but the ambitus generally equal to or lower than the Bala. It usually includes 21 blades. Today, the most frequently encountered is diatonic. Traditionally, the agreement would be closer to an agreement équiheptatonique, very different from the Western musical system.
The balafon is first born in the Mandingo Empire, between Guinea and Mali. The balafon still exists and is named Sosso bala. It would have been the property of Soumaoro Kante. A ceremony is held annually with the balafon. The location of the balafon has changed over time. It was regularly moved from Mali to Guinea and vice versa. The first family of griots, the Kouyatés would be after the man who knew the first to sing the Sosso bala.
This instrument is mentioned in the national anthem of Senegal "Squeeze your koras, hit the balafons"
It is composed of a lightweight structure of wood tied with leather straps, on which strips of hardwoods are placed in increasing size and height (plus the slats are shorter, the sound is acute) and pairs of small pumpkins are placed below forming boxes resonance. Sometimes these pumpkins are drilled and the holes are covered with membranes that vibrate system (mirliton). Traditionally these membranes are spider webs or wings of bats, now replaced with cigarette paper or a thin plastic membrane. As the pumpkins are becoming a larger part, the balafon is higher on one side than the other.
To avoid a too large, the factors that are slightly bent in an arc, allowing the player placed in the center, touching all the blades without moving. A balafon is generally capable of producing 18 to 25 notes (and therefore all blades). However, some mobile balafons contain much less (16, 12, 8 or 6 or 7).
It plays either standing with straps supporting the balafon, seated, and hit with two sticks covered with rubber.
An orchestra is often comprised of three balafons a serious, medium and high with vertical drums and djembe drum tama armpit. In Cameroon, some orchestras also have a saxophone, which allows the music to evolve.
Among the balafon players are El Hadj Djeli Sory Kouyaté, Mory Kante, Adama Condé, Aly Keita, balafon Gert Kilian the white Moussa Héma, Seydou Diabate said "Kanazoé" Amadou Kienou.
A festival devoted to it, Triangle of balafon, takes place every year in Sikasso (Mali). The construction of a museum is planned for balafon Sikasso, in Bougoula-Hamlet.
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