DER Documentary

The Wood and the Calabash

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From the Masters of the Balafon series
by Hugo Zemp
color, 47 min, 2002

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Among the Senufo people of northern Côte d'Ivoire, the balafon (xylophone with calabash resonators) is an emblematic musical instrument. Balafon makers are all musicians, but a balafon player isn't necessarily an instrument maker. The film shows in detail the manufacture of this musical instrument, an indispensable element in the life of the Senufo people. Each step is shown, from the initial prayer to the genies of the balafon before felling a tree, through the cutting and tuning of the keys and the resonators, to the fixing of the buzzing membranes, which give this instrument its very characteristic timbre. Nanga, the balafon maker, talks about his work and discusses different aspects with friends during a meal.

Other films in the Masters of the Balafon series
Funeral Festivities
The Joy of Youth
Friend, Well Come!

Related Links
Review by Troy Belford on Anthropology Review Database

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