Yiri-Koko AOS4 GCSE Edexcel Music



  • From West Africa, in Burkina Faso.
  • Koko- a group of 6 musicians, lead by singer and balafon player Madou Kone.
  • It is the fourth track in the album 'Burkina Faso: Balafons et Tambours d'Afrique in 2002.
  • Yiri is the local word for 'wood', which could refer to the fact that all the instruments in the piece are made of wood, apart from the bell.
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Instrumentation and Texture

  • Djembe: a drum played with hands, played by Jacouba Kane
  • Dunun/dundun: bass drum similar to djembe.
  • Bara: Small drum with a warm tone, often accompanying the balafon.
  • Talking drum: imitates human speech, and is hit with a stick.
  • Balafon: Like a xylophone; tuned to different pitches. It has resonators underneath that act as an amplifier. It plays in tremolos in the introduction.
  • Vocals: Koko. Soloist and choir.
  • The texture is layered:
    • there is a monophonic balafon solo in the introduction.
    • The lower balafon joins in during the introduction, and then the djembe and drums join in one by one.
    • There are occasional heterophonic textures, where 2 balafons play different versions of the same tune at the same time.
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  • Intro: in free time.
  • Chorus A: Unison voices.
  • Balafon solo: Drum accompanient.
  • Chorus A
  • Balafon solo
  • Vocal solo
  • Balafon solo
  • Chorus B
  • Balafon Solo
  • Chorus A
  • Final Balafon Solo
  • Coda: new idea for both balafons, repeated and extended to form a 2 bar unit. Drum ostinati are interrupted by rests and the bell is sounded to mark the end.
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Melody, Harmony and Tonality

  • Intro: balafon outlines all 7 pitches of the scale and uses acciaccaturas. The balafon is rather high-pitched.
  • Balafons mostly play short patterns falling from high to low, emphasising the tonic and dominant. They have solo breaks between choruses.
  • The chorus also has short, falling phrases emphasising the tonic and dominant and chorus B has the same falling outline as A.
  • Coda: the ending is indicated with a new melodic idea, then the bell sounds.
  • It is in the diatonic key of Gb major.
  • It is mostly hexatonic, due to the lack of use of F, which makes it sound modal.
  • There is, however, a prominent use of Gb and Db, which strongly establishes the key of Gb major.
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Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

  • Intro: tremolos on the balafon in order to sustain the sound.
  • The balafons use lively cross rhythms through out the piece.
  • The intro is also in free tempo, and is in 4/4.
  • The metre stays in 4/4 for most of the piece, apart from brief changes to 3/4,5/4 and 6/4.
  • The djembe decorates basic rhythms in order to move the music forward.
  • The vocal solo starts on a long note and ends on short phrases.
  • There is no change in tempo all the way through; not even near the end of the piece.
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