News - Lansiné Kouyaté Biography of Lansiné Kouyaté Balafon CDs with Lansiné Kouyaté Presentation of Mali Lansiné Kouyaté's friends kontakt
le balafon

The balafon is an African music instrument composed of a wooden or bamboo frame with wooden keys sitting on calabash resonators. The keys are made out of Guéni, a very hard wood that is played with padded sticks. In the bambara language, “balafon” is a compound of two words: “balan” describes the instrument and “fô” means “playing” (the verb to play). Balafon thus means “playing the balan”.

As griot culture is a hereditary caste, the Kouyaté family has been called the “keepers of the balafon”. Lansiné is no exception. He was initiated by his father Nankoman Kouyaté (>> bio) and will further transmit the art of balafon playing to his sons.

As all true balafon jelis, Lansiné constructs his balafons himself. The keys are cut carefully and tuned to the sound of each calabash. He also adapts his instruments according to his specific needs. Most of the time he plays a heptatonic balafon with 23 keys. But he also developed his own system with two balafons that he puts together in order to have the same scale as a piano (one for the white keys, one for the black keys) and thereby enlarges his music to modern balafon styles.

Lansiné with two balafons Lansiné's youngest son: Momo Lansiné playing the balafon