Yiri- Koko

revision cards for area of study 4.2

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Style and period

  • Sub-saharan / traditional west african music.
  • common features
    • Repetition
    • improvisation
    • polyphony
    • call and response
    • complex polyrhythm
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  • Mostly Hexatonic
  • Syncopated
  • octave doubling
  • repetitive
  • regular 2 bar phrasing
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What dynamics?

(or in examiner friendly words- 'are largely unvaried'

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The Balafon- so important it gets it's own card!

  • ostinato paterns
  • based in Gb major
  • improvised sections between parts of music - often contain tremolos
  • contains acciaccaturas
  • have regular octave leaps
  • there are two balafons
  • tremolo playing is common as sustained notes are not possible.
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  • Balafon
    • ostinati combined produce complex polyrhythm
  • drum ostinati- play 1 bar rhythm all the way through
  • syncopation
  • vocal line uses triplets
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  • The tempo is set by the balafon
    • moderato
  • it sounds as though it speeds up towards the end (it doesn't)
  • The tempo is rather boring (unvaried)
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  • Intro
  • Series of chorus, verse and instrumental bits
  • Coda
    • signalled by bell
    • 5 x 2 bar phrases
    • finished by bell
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Beginning     (http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRf5m6A7ZdiOBpqkZRdZkNJRG3zI21kIHg29qxgFg_IgwR_uWtR5A)   there isn't (unmetred)

After      (http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRf5m6A7ZdiOBpqkZRdZkNJRG3zI21kIHg29qxgFg_IgwR_uWtR5A)   constant metre

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There isn't one.

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  • Major (sounds Hexatonal)
  • leading note rarely used
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  • Starts monophonic
  • when the 2nd balafon joins in playing octaves it is homophonic
  • when all parts are playing it is polyphonic
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  • Djembe- Goblet shaped drum
  • Dundun- double headed drum played with wooden sticks
  • Talking drums- Hourglass shape with strings holding the skin on either end, squeeze to change pitch
  • Vocals- call and response
  • Vocables- effects by voice and body percussion
  • Agogo bell- played right at the end
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Samuel Richardson


A nice concise set of notes here on the basics of 'Yiri' by Koko. Make sure you can memorise the information on these cards before moving on to some more detailed notes. 

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