Talking xylophones: The musical language of the Sambla

Talking Xylophones


Friday, October 14th, 3:30-5:30pm 


Room 113 (Pearlman Lounge)


The Sambla, a West African ethnic group, have a musical tradition in which the spoken language can be mimicked on a xylophone, and musicians can communicate this way with their audience, dancers, or each other without ever uttering a word.

In this event, Professor Laura McPherson (Linguistics, Dartmouth) will speak about the history of the musical tradition and the relationship between the spoken language and the musical language, with live examples provided by two xylophonists. The talk will be followed by a performance of traditional Sambla music by three world-class musicians: the two xylophonists and a flutist.


Brandeis Linguistics Program, Department of Music, Department of African and Afro-American Studies