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.