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Images from The Beede Gallery

Xylophone (Balo), Sierra Leone (West Africa), ca. 1900

Xylophone (balo), Sierra Leone (West Africa), ca. 1900

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NMM 2440.  Xylophone (balo), Sierra Leone (West Africa), ca. 1900. Wood frame with nineteen bars (keys) and gourd resonators hanging below. Played by male professional musicians to accompany praise songs. Board of Trustees, 1978. 


Gourd Resonators

Close-up of gourd resonators

A mirliton is attached to each gourd resonator on the balo. Traditionally, these are made from the very thin and flexible casing membranes of spider eggs, but thin cigarette papers are sometimes substituted on modern instruments. The resulting sound quality--aesthetically significant in African music--is reminiscent of the buzzy vibration produced by a kazoo.

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