Publication Date



Eric Charry






The Sambla are a small ethnic group nestled in a hilly region of western Burkina Faso, West Africa, who play a xylophone called the baan. Played by three musicians simultaneously, the baan accompanies all ritual, work, and recreational activities that require music in Sambla life, and it can be considered the primary locus of Sambla musical expression. They acquired the instrument from the neighboring Tusia, an ethnic group with whom the Sambla have long shared friendly relations, when two of their musicians migrated into Sambla country with their xylophone in the late 19th century. Over time the Sambla adopted this xylophone as their own, adapting the instrument and its music to suit their needs and transforming it into a unique local tradition.

The acceptance and transformation of the Tusia xylophone into a new local tradition can be viewed as the latest step in the formation of Sambla ethnic identity. As an ethnic group, the Sambla were formed by a series of processes that began when they separated from the Samogo populations, became geographically isolated, and began to absorb various foreign people, practices, and belief systems into their community, unifying themselves by their link to the land under a sacred earth chief. The creation of the baan tradition was another step in their process of identity creation, as it became an essential element to all ritual and social events and the center of Sambla musical life.

Music of the baan is complex and multifaceted, and it employs a speech surrogate system that is capable of extemporaneous speech both within the performance of a song and during interludes between songs in which spectators engage in conversation with the soloist, who responds with musical speech on the baan. The speech surrogate mimics the tonal and rhythmic contour of spoken Sambla, and it must fit within the melodic and modal context of the particular song in which the speech is played. The tonal, modal, and multi-dimensional rhythmic and metric facets of the music are explored in the musical analysis.

CD TRACK INFO.doc (84 kB)
CD Track Information

Son Sera So.mp3 (6926 kB)
1. Son Sera So

1-43 Nogo So all.mp3 (1136 kB)
2. Nogo So all

1-40 Nogo So acc_bass.mp3 (688 kB)
3. Nogo So acc/bass

2-43 Koko So all.mp3 (2672 kB)
4. Koko So all

Mini Soko Ke Soennge.mp3 (2158 kB)
5. Mini Soko Ke Soennge

2-13 Mini Soko Ke Soennge solo.mp3 (651 kB)
6. Mini Soko Ke Soennge solo

Mini Soko Ke Soennge acc..mp3 (608 kB)
7. Mini Soko Ke Soennge acc.

2-11 Mini Soko Ke Soennge bass.mp3 (367 kB)
8. Mini Soko Ke Soennge bass

2-57 Sikemee Dondo all.mp3 (1270 kB)
9. Sikemee Dondo all

2-56 Sikemee Dondo solo.mp3 (1108 kB)
10. Sikemee Dondo solo

2-53 Sikemee Dondo acc.mp3 (218 kB)
11. Sikemee Dondo acc

2-54 Sikemee Dondo bass.mp3 (280 kB)
12. Sikemee Dondo bass

2-55 Sikemee Dondo acc_bass.mp3 (353 kB)
13. Sikemee Dondo acc/bass

Koko So - n junun ne example.mp3 (304 kB)
14. Koko So - n junun ne example

Bwende Gwo Sera n junun.mp3 (812 kB)
15. Bwende Gwo Sera - n junun ne example

Ja Don So.mp3 (552 kB)
16. Ja Don So - n junun ne example



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