Cultural practices and expressions linked to the balafon of the Senufo communities of Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire

The balafon of the Senufo communities of Mali, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire is a pentatonic xylophone composed of eleven to twenty-one keys of varying lengths arranged on a trapezoidal frame with gourd resonators of varying sizes arranged beneath. The player first learns to play a children’s balafon before advancing to full-size ones, under the instruction of a teacher. Played solo or as part of an ensemble during festivities, prayers, work, funerals and more, the balafon is a symbol of community identity.

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