About The World Panel
The gyil is the principal instrument of the Dagara, Lobi/Birifo, Libo/Miirwo, Waala, and Sisala people of Ghana, Burkina Faso, and the Ivory Coast. Performed regularly at festivals and life cycle events, the instrument is a symbol of cultural identity and played with great pride among members of these nations. As the marimba of West Africa, the gyil is part of the xylophone family and constructed out of 14 to 18 slabs of legaa wood, suspended over gourd resonators. Membranes cover holes in these resonators, creating the instrument’s distinct buzzing timbre, a sound that promotes individual and communal healing.
Thanks to the work of the late Ghanaian gyil pioneers Kakraba Lobi and Bernard Woma, the gyil has become a truly global percussion instrument. Contemporary Ghanaian gyil artists Jerome Balsab and Ichitey James have continued the vital work of Kakraba and Bernard in Ghana, North America, and beyond; teaching numerous students and cultivating the instrument’s rich musical heritage. Kakraba and Bernard’s American students, PAS Hall of Famer Valerie Naranjo and PAS World Committee Chair Mark Stone, have also pioneered the gyil in the US and abroad, nurturing new venues as well as new music for the gyil, from Broadway to the world’s most celebrated convert venues.