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Burkina Faso
Ethnic group: Bwaba
Made by Tabadi Kani
Canadian Museum of Civilization

  Balafon (tiohoun) / Photo: Carmelle Bégin


This xylophone consists of a frame supporting 15 bars of yehoun wood of different lengths, arranged from low pitch to high, with calabashes that act as resonators suspended beneath them.

Balafon (tiohoun) / Photo: Carmelle Bégin

The bars are struck with wooden mallets. Musicians wear metal jingles on their wrists, creating a dance of rustling objects that blurs the "contours" of the music or surrounds it with ornaments. The tiohoun is played at weddings, gatherings, funerals and agricultural festivals. It is said that its curved shape resembles that of the chairs of traditional chiefs, for the tiohoun is also a piece of furniture. During moments of rest, musicians sit on their instrument, and they may even use it as a bed.