Aboubacar Konaté

Africa | Percussion

The balafon is a wooden xylophone, which has origins in the Mandinka Empire (West Africa). It is played by striking sticks against slats of wood – the gourds beneath these serve as the resonator.

Course content includes:

  • Handling the mallets
  • Coordinating strikes
  • Learning the pentatonic scale
  • Study of traditional pieces
  • Accompaniment and solos



Born in 1983 in Badara, Burkina Faso, Aboubacar made his debut as a balafonist at the age of seven within his family group. They are griots and are considered among the best balafonists in the Sambla culture.

He was quickly introduced to the different rhythms and traditional instruments (balafon, djembe, dundun, bara, ngoni, kora) and accompanied his family to play in festivals and traditional ceremonies (baptisms, marriages, funerals, popular traditional celebrations). He developed a particular gift for the balafon.

At the age of 12, he moved to Bobo Dioulasso with his uncle, whose group he joined as a soloist. He met other musicians, continually improved and expanded his knowledge, as well as his rhythmic and musical universes by learning to play different balafons: Sambla balafon, Dioula (pentatonic), Guinean (diatonic) and Bwamou.

He returned to the group Landaya (‘Confidence’ in Dioula) and then in 2004 joined the Parissi group (‘Mutual Solidarity’ in Bwamou), founded by Harouna Dembele, as a soloist. Made up of 12 artists from Burkina Faso, Parissi symbolises the renewal of African music and reflects that artistic influences of the diverse range of ethnicities present in Bobo Dioulasso. Aboubacar Konaté also plays the dundun and ngoni in this group.

The ensemble went on its first tour of Burkina-Faso, and then performed across Africa (Mali, Ivory Coast) and in Europe (France, Austria, Germany) and released two albums: Landa and Benkan. In 2009, the group won the prestigious Lamissa Bengaly trophy during the 6th year of the eponymous festival.

In 2013, Aboubacar Konaté moved to Switzerland and was part of several events (concerts, shows, workshops, studios) – those of note include Geneva’s World Festival, the Festival of Music in both Geneva and Lausanne, Dance Echo Festival in Geneva and the Days of 5 Continents in Martigny. Among others he has collaborated with Mamadou Diabate, a balafon artists and founder of the Percussion Mania group, and with Louis Sanou, founder of the 5 Frères group. He continues to play in the Parissi ensemble when they tour Europe and elsewhere.

A versatile musician and true virtuoso on the balafon, Aboubacar Konaté also masters diverse traditional instruments like the djembe, the dundun and ngoni. But his talent soars with the balafon, of which he masters all aspects.

He gives balafon classes and workshops in both Africa and Europe.

10, rue de Montbrillant - 1201 Geneva

Mercredi, 16h-19h
Thrusday, 20h-22h
On request


Collective lessons (from 3 people) : 30 CHF during 1h15 
Private lessons: (1hour) : 50 CHF


T : +41 (0)78 638 34 82

More info on the balafon on wikipedia: :

Discover other classes