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Balafon-(bala, balaphone), a Manding name, is believed to have developed independent of the South African marimba. It is made up of wooden rods usually played with padded sticks/mallets. Pitch of the notes vary according to such factors as density and weight of the wood, as well as the length, width, and thickness of the wooden rods. Under each rod is a calabash of varying size, which serves as a resonator. The design of the instrument has not changed much over the centuries, however variation exists throughout West Africa, such as the Balangi in Sierra Leone, the Gyil, (pronounced JEE-lee) of the Dahara people from Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Côte d'Ivoire, and the palaku of the ancient Central African Kingdom of Kongo,. Alternately these instruments can be mounted on a frame or stand and played sitting, standing, or attached to a long leather strap to be slung around the neck and played in processionals.
Bakongo Figural Balafon - 6 Bars
Bakongo
DRC, Angola - Congo River Region
Bamileke Balafon - 7 Bars
Bamileke
Cameroon Grasslands
Beti 8-Keyed Balafon (bottom)
Beti
Cameroon
Beti 8-Keyed Balafon (top)
Beti
Cameroon
Beti Mejang (Balafon)
Beti
Cameroon grasslands
Kwela Ceremonial Mask Balafon - 4 Bars
Kwele
Gabon, Cameroon, Republic of Congo
Luba Ceremonial Balafon - 6 Bars
Luba
Democratic Republic of Congo
Mambuti Balafon with Log Resonators - 8 Bars
Mambuti
Democratic Republic of Congo
Mande Balafon - 14-Bars
Mande
West Africa
Mandi Balafon (xylophone) - 20 Bars
Mande
Mali
Shona Ilimba
Shona
Zimbabwe