Paul Nas’ greatest passion and inspiration is the balafon, as a musician, as a teacher and in the shows he gives in the Dutch primary schools.
The balafon is a unique instrument that isn’t very well known in the Netherlands. Balafons are known throughout Africa, but Burkina Faso is the country in which it really belongs to the heart of the culture. The sound bars are pentatonically tuned, which means only five notes are being used, which have a natural harmony. By
using resounding calabashes with membranes a wonderful sound is created that speaks to the imagination.
Paul is the only teacher in the Netherlands with long-term balafon classes. He has developed his own teaching materials that he uses during his courses and workshops. Sometimes the musical composition is accompanied by songs sung in the language belonging to the culture that the composition originated from,
like Bambara, Djoula or Bwaba and which usually offer some life lesson. Paul enjoys singing while playing the balafon.
Paul has been studying African music for over twenty years. He started with dance, rapidly followed by djembe and dundun. He played in IDON! For ten years, a renowned dance and percussion group hailing from the south of the Netherlands. He started writing down everything he learned. He was so prolific and thorough in this that his work was published in book form in Dutch (101 West Afrikaanse ritmes) and in English as a website, the internationally appreciated WAP pages (www.paulnas.eu/wap). Paul’s balafon teaching materials have also come into existence from his urge to record all he learns.
Paul learned most of his djembe rhythms from Martin Bernhard and Mamoudou ‘Delmundo’ Keïta. His knowledge of the balafon started from self-study, but by now he has regularly visited Burkina Faso to be taught by Youssouf Keïta (who also makes fantastic balafons). He also organises trips to Burkina Faso for his students. Moreover, he followed workshops by Aly Keïta, Haruna Dembele and Gert Kilian, amongst others.
Paul tunes and revises balafons in a traditional and artisanal African manner. He has been officially permitted by balafon builders Aly and Youssouf Keïtta to maintain their balafons.