SOLO INSTRUMENT - Two Songs from Nandom (1993) Program note

“Two Songs from Nandom” is based on gyil music of the Daghati and Lobi peoples, who live in Northwestern Ghana, Southern Burkina-Faso and Northeastern Côte d’Ivoire. The gyil is an eighteen-key instrument resembling a Western marimba. Tuned slabs of carved mahogany wood are bound with animal hide to a sturdy wooden frame. Each key has its own gourd resonator; crushed and flattened spider webs are seared with rubber over holes carved in the gourds, creating a buzzing membrane as the keys are struck.

The stories surrounding the main songs, as related by Bernard Woma,
are as follows:

-Kola Per Bir, jo kol’ no op...
The cat fell asleep under a tree; his enemy the mouse saw his
opportunity, and bit the cat’s testicle, whereupon the cat promptly

-Baatazaa, ne no ne pulle
-Baatazaa, fu ir ben kume

Baatazaa, you have so many women
Baatazaa, please give me one
(Baatazaa is a great chief)

"Two Songs from Nandom" was commissioned by organist and composer William Albright and was premiered at the American Guild of Organists National Convention in 1993. I acknowledge and thank the following gyil players or their assistance and support: Ngmen Baaru, Abu Kowie, Richard Na-Ile, and Mark Stone.

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