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The balofon is a gourd resonated xylophone found throughout West Africa. Each gourd resonator has a small hole covered with the fibre from a spider egg sac that acts as a buzzer. The instrument is played sitting on the floor or suspended from a strap around the performer’s shoulders. The balofon tradition is passed from master to student and the training in some regions is so rigorous that students can collapse from physical exhaustion. The gourd resonators are chosen to reinforce the pitch of each individual bar and often also include small "buzzers", made by covering a hole in the side of the gourd with spider sack silk.

The tunings, size, and methods of playing the balafon vary with each region. The instrument shown is from the Ivory Coast.

Country: various
Region: Africa
Type: percussion
Collection: Fana Soro
Balofon - wooden keyed percussion from West Africa
©  R. Raine-Reusch, May 2002