September 2017
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ethnic instruments

SA sneeze wood bass xylofon

We met a very cool guy yesterday from South Africa, Paul Tracey. Originally his family was from Great Britain. His father, Hugh Tracey is famous for being one of the first Europeans promoting African Music and created what is now called the Kalimba based on the African thumb piano called Mbira. This bass xylofon sounds incredible. The wood is from a gnarly tree commonly called “Sneeze wood” because if you sand it you will sneeze. To cure the wood they wrap the pieces in pineapple leaves and bury them in a fire pit. The wood comes out colored and very hard. The sound is deep and sweet. Here are links to a BBC documentary on Hugh Tracey and his very compassionate explanation of what it is like living in rural South Africa sixty years ago. Great footage!
part 1 – 24 minutes
https://vimeo.com/41472208

part 2 – 16 minutes