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 Gyil Music of West Africa

GYIL (pronounced JEEL or JEE lee), is the national instrument of the Dagara and Lobi nations of West Africa. It is one of the grandmothers of the mallet keyboard family and is made from fourteen wooden slats that are suspended on a frame, over calabash gourds. Nearly every man in the community can play at least a tune or two, yet the gyil master (an instrument maker as well as player) studies the instrument for much of his life before he is considered worthy to represent the community at sacred events.

Gyil masters hold a respectworthy post in their rural villages. It is well recognized that their extraordinary abilities take many years to attain, and that their role as both the gate to the spirit world in the sacred ceremony, and the world of joy and laughter in a simple moonlight dance is important in maintaining the health of each individual and in the bonding of the community.


KAKRABA LOBI is considered to be the gyil's spokesperson - one of the only living virtuosi to have mastered the instrument's vast and difficult repertoire, and to have gained international acclaim as a concert soloist. Here he is joined by two of his greatest champions, world percussionist Valerie Dee Naranjo (Saturday Night Live, The Lion King, Tori Amos) and jazz and world music great Barry Olsen (Ray Barretto, Eddie Palmieri, Hector LaVoe, Paul Simon).

The exact date of this concert is not known, but it occurred in the marked year around this time.

Earlier Event: September 7
Later Event: October 5