Ghanaian Xylophone

Contributed by BBC Cambridgeshire

Dr Peter Zinovieff brought along Ghanaian Xylophone (Gyil). It is an instrument traditionally only played by men in Ghana. Xylophones can be played solo, but are also frequently played in pairs (male and female). The Gyil has an unusual buzzing sound of the Gyil which is achieved by drawing the net of spider cocoons over holes in the resonating gourds. The builder "hangs" the 14 wooden bars over the frame to allow them to vibrate freely. Most Gyils are tuned in the pentatonic scale. Dr Zinovieff was sent to him by a doctor in Ghana when he lived in Putney, London and had a computer music studio.

Dr Zinovieff was told that the xylophone was already very old by the time he was sent it and that they are not made in this way any more. Dr Zinovieff said "I have always wanted to have a spider web as it should as a resonating membrane!. The instrument has been used with a contact microphone in a number of Electronic Music pieces including China Music by Hans Werner Henze."

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