Posts Tagged ‘balafon’

Playlist: Balafon – tools of the trade

Posted on January 12th, 2017 in Features, Recent posts by .


The balafon is a West African xylophone and an instrument steeped in history. Believed to have originated in the Mande areas of West Africa (Mali, Guinea, the Gambia, Burkina Faso) 800 years ago, the balafon is at the centre of the national myth that recounts the creation of the Mali Empire. It adds a colourful percussive backbone to the music in which it features, and exists in two variations: the heptatonic (seven-note) balafon, which is flat and played by leading Malian player Lassana Diabaté; and the pentatonic (five-note) balafon, which is played by internationally renowned Mamadou Diabaté. Traditional tunings and scales vary across the region, though nowadays the instrument is often tuned to a Western diatonic scale. Have a listen to this playlist, which features master players like Mamadou Diabaté, Kélétigui Diabaté and many more, to truly immerse yourself in the sound of the balafon.

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New issue (December 2016) on sale now!

Posted on November 4th, 2016 in News, Recent posts by .

Songlines Magazine December 2016

Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca, English folk trio Lady Maisery, Tunisian oud player Dhafer Youssef, a history of the West African balafon, cellist Vincent Segal, Katie Melua’s guest playlist and more

The December (#123) issue is on sale in the UK from today. This edition’s free Top of the World compilation CD includes tracks from the best new albums reviewed in the issue and an exclusive guest playlist from Georgian-British singer Katie Melua.

Featured on the Top of the World CD are tracks from Parisian collective Acid Arab, Sudanese-American singer Alsarah and her Nubatones and master Chinese guzheng player Mei Han. 

Subscribe today to guarantee your copy!

Roberto Fonseca


Roberto Fonseca – The Cuban pianist celebrates his country’s rich musical history
Lady Maisery – The English folk trio sing about the cycle of life
Instruments Reimagined – Instruments designed as everyday objects
Dhafer Youssef – The Tunisian oud player inspired by Syria
Tools of the Trade – The history of the West African balafon




The Ukrainians – We raise a glass to the British collective who have championed Ukrainian music for the last 25 years
Katie Melua – “There’s no other singing like it. It takes me to another place and gives me the chills.” We speak to the Georgian-British singer and uncover her musical interests
Vincent Segal – The French cellist describes how his instrument is his sanctuary and refuge

PLUS! Reviews of the latest CD and world cinema releases.

Click here to buy the new issue.


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