Aaron Bebe performing on a traditional Ghanaian xylophone called the gyil. Filmed March, 2006 at the University of Ghana by Patrick Roulet. Check out the ease in which Aaron plays the gyil.

Valerie Naranjo, New York City percussionist and member of the SNL band, has done research on the music from Africa and has transcribed many of the gyil works for marimba. According to her website:

The Gyil (pronounced JEE-lee) is one of the grandparents of the mallet keyboard family. It is made from fourteen wooden slats that are suspended, on a frame, over calabash gourds. Its sound is like the Western marimba, yet more “earthen” in character. It is the national instrument of the Lobi and Dagara people of Ghana, Burkina Faso and Cüte DÃIvoire. Throughout West Africa, the people believe that its “woody” sound comes from a vibration of water that physically balances the water in the bodies of humans and animals.

Have you ever played an African xylophone? Have you played any of Valerie’s transcriptions? Let us know. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Originally posted on DrumChattr on January 7, 2011.

Dave Gerhart
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