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Album: Burkino Faso
This piece is made up of 3 sections. The first section is a short balaphon solo with free metre and
features a tremolo. The second section features a call and response between the solo vocalist, the
balaphon and the choir. The drums play an ostinato, highlighting the pulse of the song. This section is a
series of chorus, verse and instrumental sections, and the balaphon alternates between playing the
solos and choruses. The final section is the coda. Ere the balaphon plays a two bar phrase which is
varied and repeated five times. The drum ostinato is interrupted dramatically by rests and the end is
signalled by a bell, called an agogo.
The main instruments are the balaphon, the djembe drum, the talking drum and vocals, but the piece
also has the dun dun, the tam-tam and maracas.
Yiri has mainly a hexatonic melody. The balaphons play short descending patterns which often
emphasise the tonic and dominant. The balaphon solos are very virtuosic. The chorus tends to sing
short descending melodic lines. The melody includes lots of syncopation. The 2nd balaphon plays an
octave lower creating a two part texture.
The piece is in Gb major but sounds modal as the piece is hexatonic and the leading note is avoided.
The piece generally has a time signature of 4/4 however the balaphon introduction is in free metre.
A moderate tempo is established by the first balaphon, and the drums maintain the steady beat. The
tempo is generally unvaried, however seems to speed up towards the end of the piece.
The two main rhythms are ostinatos by the balaphon and drums. When the balaphon ostinatis are
combined they produce a complex polyphonic texture. The drum ostinati plays a one bar pattern
throughout. The vocal line also produces a pentatonic call and response. Within the vocals, there are
triplets in the melody. Key rhythmic features in this piece are syncopation and polyrhythms e.g. cross
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The introduction is monophonic, with the balaphon solo. When the second balaphon joins in the
texture becomes heterophonic. All the voices sing in unison and when all the parts play together
there is a polyphonic texture. The dynamics in the piece are largely unvaried.…read more