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inside the chicken's mouth


Balafon (West African xylophone) - Toumaranke's music is built around the Mandinka balafon, a heptatonic idiophone with 21 rosewood keys on a bamboo frame with gourd resonators. The polyrhythmic interaction of the balafon with the other percussive instruments gives us our unique sound. Watch a short film about this instrument and read The Story of the Balafon.  We sell both 12 and 21 note balafons, made by a friend of ours.

arrow-white balafon 2 (crop)

Bolon (African bridge harp) - Not that many recordings have used this and the way we've mixed it so prominently, especially in the instrumentals, makes us different from other African groups. Okameo makes our bolons.

The Bolon - article by Chris Sylla

Krin (log drum) - one of the oldest percussive instruments. Moussa, a master Krin musician, plays 'Conakry style'.


The Krin - article by Chris Sylla

gongo 4

Gongomah (Guinean idiophone) - another unique instrument and very different from the South African Mbira or thumb piano. Hardly any other recordings feature this. An extraordinary idiophone with 3 or 4 keys made from old hacksaw blades. It came out of Guinea in the 1950s and is based on an instrument from Sierra Leone that uses a box as a resonator. The calabash or gourd based gongo is the inspiration for the song Manet. The keys are played with one hand while the other taps out a counter rhythm on the plywood top.

moussa rec CU

Syangan M’gangau (single string lute) - in our case made from an old coffee tin and some fishing line. We think it's the first time this instrument has been used in a recording. Something of this type is played all over West Africa although different countries have different names for it.

Toumaranke playing 3 syangan m'gangaus on Sanyang beach

Tumba (left) & Gbundo (right) - traditional Susu drums. Tumba are played with the hands while gbundo can be struck with sticks or hands. Both sets of drums specially made for us by our Guinean Susu drum maker to Moussa's specs.  


Tama - West African 'talking drum', this one is from Guinea.

Basket Shakers - again featuring calabash, grains from the flambeau tree  and made by Okameo.

2 bolons bundo 1 tumba CU Tama 2 krin 2