Sara Massa Xylophone

Sara Massa Xylophone

This balo is a xylophone with 12 gourd-resonated bars of wood. Among the Congo peoples, professional male musicians play such xylophones to accompany praise songs in a manner akin to music of their clan. Each hand holds a rubber-tipped mallet and bells are strapped to the player's wrist to add rhythmic emphasis. A sound modifier is affixed over the holes located under the bars in the side of each gourd. In old examples such as this one, the modifier, which produces a buzzing sound essential to the African music aesthetic, is made of a membrane from a spider's-egg case - Met Museum.


Late 19th Century.

<Click Image to Enlarge>