11 x 14” pencil on bristol by Dave Kobrenski.
The balafon is an ancient instrument that resembles a wooden xylophone, with gourds used as resonators. It has roots dating back to the 13th century, and factored heavily in the epic story of Sundiata and the creation of the Mande empire. The balafon is typically played by griots (members of a hereditary caste of oral historians and musicians). Training to play the balafon is intense and takes many years. This man was a virtuoso musician who had likely trained since he was very young. He performed at a festival in the village honoring the chief.