The Ghanaian xylophone is simply called the gyil (pronounced JEEL or JEE-lee). Bewaa is a tradition of social dance songs music for Ghanaian xylophone. Students all over the world currently travel to study gyil at the Dagara Music Center in Medie, Ghana, directed by Bernard Woma. Traditional Ghanaian xylophone is performed with two xylophonists and a percussionist, often accompanied by a dance and drum troupe during social gatherings, dances, and concert performances. The music is used in traditional ceremonies in villages and communities in northern Ghana. The funeral repertoire is meant to honor the dead.



The gyil has 14 wooden bars woven together by string, twine, and goat skin. Each bar is smoked for three weeks (to prevent change in intonation) and amplified by prepared gourds that are carefully tuned to each bar. Each gourd has three holes that are covered with spider sac paper. This paper gives the instrument its buzzy timbre and overtones. My gyil was made by Tijian Lobi, and was tuned to Bernard Woma's instrument. My ear has become accustomed to playing with and writing for it in B minor, F# minor, and G major, and D major in original ensembles mixing western instruments with gyil.


C#  +40 cents
B     +20 cents
A     -23 cents
F#   +35/40 cents
E     +15 cents
D     0 cents
C     -35 cents
A     +20-23 cents
G     -15/20 cents
E     +50 cents
D#   -2 cents
B     +25 cents
A     -2 cents
G     -40 cents