Talking balafons

  • Hugo Zemp French Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.
  • Sikaman Soro


It is evident that the relationship between natural language and balafon playing goes beyond mere imitation, or rather transposition, of tonemes and long and short syllables. Senufo balafonists not only reproduce linguistic statements: they produce them while also making music. Balafon tunes, with their underlying words, bring into play interactive communication, artistic creativity and aesthetic pleasure. THey bring joy to the musicians and to all those who take part in the event.


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This reference contains 5 citations:
Hugo Zemp 2001/2002 Masters of the Balafon. A series by Hugo Zemp. Production: Sélénium Films/Süpor XAO, Distribution: Documentary Educational Resources,
Funeral Festivities, 80 minutes, 2001.
The Joy of Youth, 70 minutes, 2002.
The Wood and the Calabash, 47 minutes, 2002.
Friend, Well Come! tj minutes, 2002.
Hugo Zemp n.d. The Music of the Senufo, 30cm/33rpm, Recordings and Notes by H. Zemp, Unesco Collection - Anthology of African Music 8, Bärenreiter- Musicaphon BM 30L 2038.
n.d. Percussions de Côte d'Ivoire, 30cm/33rpm, Recordings and Notes by H. Zemp, Disques Alvarès C 488.
n.d. Côte d'Ivoire: chants et danses de Boundiali, 30cm/33 rpm, Recordings and Notes by R Augier, R Dagri and A. Yapo, ACCT and Ministère des Affaires Culturelles de Côte d'Ivoire, ACTT 18211.
n.d. Musik der Senufo, Elfenbeinküste, 2 x 3ocm/33rpm, Recordings and Notes by T. Förster, Museum Collection Berlin MC4.
n.d. Ivory Coast: Senufo, Music for Fodonon Funerals, CD, Recordings and Notes by M. de Lannoy, Collection CNRS/Musée de l'Homme, Le Chant du Monde CNR 274838.
n.d. Parcours musical en Afrique: tracks 5 to 9 of the CD enclosed with the special number of Journal des Africanistes, Recordings by Marianne Lemaire (cf. bibliographic reference).
How to Cite
Zemp, H., and S. Soro. “Talking Balafons”. African Music: Journal of the International Library of African Music, Vol. 8, no. 4, Nov. 2010, pp. 6-23, doi: