Learn about Africa and the Caribbean’s rich musical history through traditional instruments like the valiha, Peul flute, and caxixi. All the songs listed in this article can be found in the musical picture books Songs on the Vanilla Trail and Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees. You can also listen to the full playlist on Spotify. Listen for the valiha on the song “Iny Hono Izy” Considered the national instrument of Madagascar, the valiha is a “tube zither” made of bamboo with metal strings that are plucked. Originally, the strings were long filaments of bamboo bark stretched over metal frets. Listen for the cavaquinho on the song “Ninância” Similar in sound to a ukulele, this four-stringed instrument of Portuguese origin is played by plucking strings. Popular in Cape Verde, the cavaquinho is played here by the renowned cavaquista (cavaquinho player) Teófilo Chantre. Listen for the ravanne drums on the song “Don Mwa Lamen” Normally made from goat skin, this large drum produces a muffled rhythm that is considered the soul of sega, a style of music and dance popular in Rorigues Island and other islands off the coast of East Africa. Listen for the ngoni on the song “I da je” Known by some as “griot’s lute,” the Ngoni is a stringed instrument with a resonance chamber carved out of wood and covered with animal skin. Its nylon strings are attached to leather rings and plucked with the right thumb and index finger. This song, and the instrument is popular in Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Ghinea. Listen for the bobre on the song “Café Grillé” The bobre is a musical bow with a cablash that acts as a resonator. It is played by striking the string with a stick. The stick has a small pouch on the end with seeds inside that rattle with each strike. This song and the instrument is popular in Réunion. Listen for the sanza on the song “Bikilou” Known by some as a “thumb piano,” this small keyboard is played by pressing metal strips that are attached to a resonating box. This song and the instrument are popular in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Listen for the caxixi on the song “Gongon” Pronounced “ca-shi-shi,” this percussion idiophone features a closed bell-like basket filled with seeds or other small objects that create sound when shaken like maracas. This song and the instrument are popular in Cape Verde. Listen for the mukenge on the song “Lóba” The mukenge is a double bell made of welded iron that is struck with a stick. The performer controls the resonance with their hand or chest. This song and the instrument are popular in Cameroon. Listen for the Peul flute on the the song “Amina” The Peul flute is a transverse bamboo flute with three holes originally played by shepherds. The instrument has an unusual performance technique: the flutist activates her vocal cords while blowing so as to speak or sing into the instrument as it is played. The instrument and this song are popular in Gabon. Discover the stories behind the songs Learn about the origins of these songs and meet their performers in the music picture books Songs on the Vanilla Trail and Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees. Song lyrics appear transcribed in their original language and translated to English followed by extensive notes describing the cultural background of each song and a map or the region. Each illustrated hardcover book includes a CD and digital download code. Songs on the Vanilla Trail Bookshop | Shop Local (Canada) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo Songs in the Shade of the Cashew and Coconut Trees Shop Local (Canada) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indigo Explore our free teaching guides and activity sheets Visit our Resources page to download free teaching guides and activity sheets. You can also find playlists and animated singalong videos in the audio and video sections. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay informed about our new releases, events and for a chance to win our subscriber giveaway. To order books for your library or bookstore, please contact Independent Publishers Group (United States), Hornblower Books/University of Toronto Press (Canada), and MMS/BookSource (United Kingdom). For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.