Musician | Ethnomusicologist | Arts ManageR | FILMMAKER
The Gyil is a wooden idiophone (you hit it to make sound) from West Africa. It is very similar to the balafon, which originated in Mali in the 14th century. The instrument is made with calabash gourds for resonators, as seen in the image below. It has a very earthy sound when compared to the xylophones and marimbas used in American and European orchestras. The Gyil is generally played in pairs, and is often seen at traditional funerals. Valerie Dee Naranjo, of SNL fame, is noted for helping bring the gyil to the public spotlight with numerous high profile performances. I own two gyil, created through the Africa Heartwood Project. They are tuned in C major pentatonic, and have been featured at numerous performances, including several in Bridge the Gap Chamber Players' Music on Mockingbird series.
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