Artist Profiles: Bernard Woma

Bernard Woma

Bernard Woma plays the xylophone from northern Ghana called the gyil. Like the bala from Guinea and Mali, the gyil has gourd resonators that have a buzzing sound achieved with spider web sacks covering small holes. The group consists of two gyile, a small lizard-skin drum and often a dancer.

The Bernard Woma Trio plays at blistering speed on the gyil. Yet Bernard always keeps the energy positive, and he’s got a welcoming presence.

The music is primarily the traditional repertoire of the Dagara people, as well as original compositions by Bernard. The repertory includes Bewaa, recreational music which literally translates “you come.” Bewaa music is played at social events where community members come together. Such events can include but are not limited to: the installment of a chief, harvest festivals, marriage ceremonies, and naming ceremonies. Bewaa is also commonly played at pito bars where family and friends gather together to share in the local brew (pito), song, and dance.


Live at the Pito Bar (Avant, 1998)
Zie Mwea: Natural Conditions (Mandara Music, 2001)
Bernard Woma in Concert (Jumbie Records, 2003)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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