Mwea (Natural Conditions)
Ancient Keyboard Music of West Africa
for Gyil, Kuar, Voices and Dancing.
of the Sahara Desert in West Africa there is long standing tradition
of solo marimba artistry on an instrument called "gyil." In
the gyil tradition, every rural community has its own style of playing,
its own tonality, and its own musical masters.
only schools to cultivate this national treasure are private apprenticeships
with the gyil master. This type of school is straight forward and strict.
If you have a keen interest (and oblidging parents who willing to buy
you a pair of instruments) you might consider "enrolling." Then,
if the community (via the master musician) evaluates you to be of high
character, you are enrolled. If you are intelligent and observant, you
will begin to grasp the complicated and extensive "literature." If
you're dedicated for long time you'll be able to play, and if you play
well enough, often enough, and for a long enough time, the master musician
will allow you to play publicly.
gyil master is also, much like a doctor, on call to heal emotional or
physical illnesses. He is especially important as the initiator of the
funeral, the Lobi's and Dagara's most important rite of passage. Among
those who have travelled to perform and teach outside of the land of the
Lobi nation, only two have gained an international reputation. Bernard
Woma is one of those.
Gyil (pronounced JEE-lee) is made from wooden slats that are suspended
on a frame over calabash gourds. Each gourd has one to several holes
that support a mirlitron of spider's film which allows each bar to
produce a column of buzzing air. Its timbre is somewhat like the Western
marimba, yet "earthen"
in character. Gyil music is to the ear as a kaleidoscope looks to the
eye Ñ a dazzling matrix of consistent yet ever-changing interlocking
elements engaged in dynamic conversation. It's curious to find that such
a powerful sound can soothe so much. People believe that the gyill's "woody" quality
comes from a water vibration that physically balances the water in the
bodies of humans and animals, able to heal maladies of the body mind
drum Kuar is the gyil's most important musical mate. It is made from a
large calabash with a head of crocodile or alligator hide.
information about the gyil and our complete catalogue of West African
recorded and transcribed music visit www.mandaramusic.com.
through on-line and regular CD retailers.