What is Danny mesél?

Danny Bain was born and raised in the United States. After spending time studying music in South America and Africa, he arrived to Hungary in 2010, and has since made Budapest his home. His distinctive storytelling style is based on African musical traditions, and combines traditional and original folk stories with catchy melodies and hypnotic rhythms played on the gyil (African balafon). Danny mesél is an interdisciplinary program which offers children a unique way to explore language, music, and dance, learn about foreign cultures, and discover exciting instruments.

Performances are available in both Hungarian and English and, while appropriate for young and old alike, are especially recommended for children ages 3 to 10. Danny also conducts workshops for English learners, combining language and music education.

„He sits down on a small footstool behind the xylophone. With a mallet in each hand and bells on his feet, he begins to play. The children gather around him, resting on pillows and cushions. They’re watching, listening to the music, absorbed in the story and ready to join in – to yell “Lelelelelele!” together at just the right moment. This is how time passes with Danny at a performance.”

(Andrea Székely, director, Kabóca Puppet Theatre)

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Danny and his instrument

Danny Bain was born in the United States, and grew up in a suburb of Washington, DC. His interest in music began at an early age and he had is first drum lesson when he was only seven years old. As he got older, besides playing in the school bands, he also performed with the county and state youth orchestras, and began giving drum lessons at the local music store.

While pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Jazz Studies at West Virginia University, Danny was able to take advantage of the university’s renowned world music program. He distinguished himself performing with the African, Brazilian, and Latin music ensembles, and later even had the opportunity to study abroad in both Ghana and Brazil. After graduating in 2009, he further pursued his studies in these regions independently.

In 2010, Danny’s travels led him to Hungary, which he quickly made his home. While continuing to perform music locally, he found work teaching English as a foreign language. His experiences as a teacher of young children prompted him to create a performance that children can truly appreciate. Moreover, his Danny mesél performances have given him a rewarding way to learn the Hungarian language.

The gyil [’dʒil’] is a kind of wooden xylophone traditionally played by the Dagara and Lobi people of West Africa, and whose origins date back to the 1300’s. It is a pentatonic instrument, meaning the scale consists of five notes. It is made by suspending 14 wooden keys on a frame over 14 gourds. Spider web silk covers small holes in the gourds, and antelope or goat skin is used for fastenings. When the keys are struck with a rubber mallet (Danny’s mallets are made from car tires) the sound resonates in the gourds, and the vibrating spider silk causes a buzzing sound.

The music accompanying Danny’s stories, while mostly original, is based on traditional African themes and rhythms he learned at the Dagara Music Center in Medie, Ghana, where he studied with gyil virtuosos, Bernard Woma and Tijan Dorwana.

Performances & Workshops

The Children in the Tree

Interactive musical folktale set to African rhythms

Danny first performed his adaptation of this African folktale at the Kabóciádé Family Festival in Veszprém in 2013. Since then, the story of Kitenji, Tenten, and Koko has become a favorite of countless children and adults in Hungary and abroad. The spellbinding sound of the Ghanaian xylophone carries the audience away to the African savannah, where they learn to beware the tricks of the conniving, wicked witch, and discover how to revive those victims which she so diabolically devoured.

Adapted by: Danny Bain and Szántó Viktória
Performer: Danny Bain
Length: 25 minutes + 20 minute instrument introduction

Watch The Children in the Tree trailer

The Gingerbread Man

Interactive musical folktale set to African rhythms

In this performance we meet one of the most famous characters of American folk culture: The Gingerbread Man. The delectable dessert must flee from his peckish pursuers—the Little Old Lady, the Little Old Man, the Cow, the Donkey, and the Chicken—running on and on until he arrives to the edge of the river, where he meets a sly and sleepy fox . . . What happens next will remain a secret here, but one thing’s for certain: young and old alike will be singing along with the catchy melodies by the end of the story!

Adapted by: Danny Bain
Hungarian text: Márton Jankovics
Consultant: Viktória Szántó
Performer: Danny Bain
Length: 25 minutes + 20 minute instrument introduction

Take a look into the performance

Sassouma and the Wind

Interactive musical folktale with African melodies and dances

Sassouma, a determined and daring young girl, leaves her aging father and their small mud home behind, setting out into the desert on the back of her three-humped camel to find the source of the wind, which has been blowing sand into their village and destroying all the crops. Singing along to the sound of her camel’s footsteps in the sand as she travels through unbearable heat and overwhelming wind, she will need her wits, a few special tools, and a little bit of magic to finally save her village. At the end of the story, the children can even learn the Dromedary Dance to accompany Sassouma’s songs.

Written by: Danny Bain
Hungarian text: Anna Sándor
Performer: Danny Bain
Length: 20 minutes + 20 minute song and dance activity

The Bird Princess

Interactive musical folktale set to African rhythms

“Ka-uuu, ko ko kó!” Deep in the heart of the jungle, a little bird’s song rings out from an old, dilapidated hut as she longs for her true love. And when Kwame, a young man from the village, stumbles inside, lost and hopeless–well, he might just be the one she’s been waiting for. Hesitant at first to take a bird for a bride, when he sees her colorful feathers and listens her beautiful song, he too, falls in love. And although the villagers may laugh and mock him at first, everyone is shocked when they discover the little bird’s true, royal identity.

Adapted by: Danny Bain
Hungarian text: Viktória Szántó
Performer: Danny Bain
Length: 30 minutes + 20 minute instrument introduction

Technical Requirements

The production is suitable for any environment, both indoors and outdoors, in a classroom, park, or on a main stage. At a typical performance, the children and families will sit around the performer on a rug or on cushions. Afterwards, depending on the size of the event, Danny can give the children a chance to come up and try the instrument themselves.

In a more intimate environment, for a smaller number of people, there is no need for amplification. If the audience is farther from the performer, or the atmosphere is especially noisy, amplification may be necessary. (1 microport, 2 microphones)

Space requirements: 2,5 m * 2,5 m
Set up: 15 perc
Dismantling: 15 perc

Workshops for Children

Danny has many years of experience working with children and adults, teaching both music and English as a foreign language. Based on his experiences in the classroom, he has developed several workshops that combine the two activities. Primarily for kindergarten and elementary school children, ages 4 to 12, the workshops involve song, dance, and musical games to create a fun, interactive, and memorable learning experience.

His most popular workshop, “Walking in the Jungle,” explores the connections between music and nature. Through song and dance, the children track down what animals are living in this musical jungle, learn about the sounds they make, and discover a unique percussion instrument that goes with each sound. The children have the chance to try out all the instruments, creating a hands-on experience and expanding their musical knowledge, while simultaneously learning a new language.

Ez nem az apu hangja!

Danny’s first children’s book and CD, Danny mesél – Ez nem az apu hangja!, was released in 2015. Brought to life by the exotic and colorful illustrations of Mariann Maray, the book carries the reader away to the savannahs, jungles, and deserts of Africa. The accompanying CD contains Danny’s musical performances of the stories, played on the Ghanaian gyil. The book was chosen by the Hungarian Institute of Children’s Literature (Magyar Gyermekirodalmi Intézet) as among the year’s top 50 books for children and young adults. Currently, it is available only in Hungarian.

Buy the book now!




References and selected performances

Watch The Children in the Tree trailer
Danny mesél @ FEM3 Café

Kabóca Puppet Theatre, Veszprém (www.kabocababszinhaz.hu)
Betűtészta Publisher, Budakeszi (betuteszta.com)
Két Egér Book Store, Budapest (www.keteger.hu)
Orchidea International School, Budapest (www.orchideaiskola.hu)
English School of Budapest (englishschool.hu)
PöttyösLabda (pöttyöslabda.hu)
Saint Antal Catholic Primary School and Kindergarten, Kübekháza (www.szeged-csanad.egyhazmegye.hu)
Saint Francis Foundation of Deva, various locations in Romania (RO) (szentferencalapitvany.org)

Kabóciádé Family Festival, Veszprém, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Downtown Community Square (Belvárosi Közösségi Tér) family festivals, Budapest, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
Marczibányi Téri Művelődési Központ, 2017
MÜPA, 2016
Barabás Villa Children’s programs, 2016, 2017
Tiszavilág days, Lakitelek, 2016
Székölykök Children’s Festival, Ika vára (RO), 2015
Storytelling Festival, Veszprém, 2014, 2015
Partiumi Hungarian Days, Szatmárnémeti (RO), 2015
English Camp, Kászonaltíz (RO), 2015
Fairytale Days of Aliga (Aligai Mesés Napok), Balatonaliga, 2015
Békásmegyer Community Center theatre programs, Budapest, 2014, 2015, 2017
Sunday Picnic at Akvárium, Budapest, 2015

Contact Us

Danny Bain
Danny Bain
For professional questions contact:
Bain Melinda
Bain Melinda
For bookings, press, or information contact:
+36 20 429 4650