Kora - Senegal

Purchased in Dakar, Senegal, 1969

From Graciela's Notes

This interesting instrument is a cross between a harp and a lute. It is a typical folk instrument found in Senegal and elsewhere in West Africa. Male musicians play the kora usually to accompany speech or poetry. I saw it, as part of a group of folk instruments, accompanying dancers. Sometimes metal rings are attached to the neck and they rattle when played. The kora is an intricate instrument. The sound table is a hollow gourd resonator covered in animal skin. There is a rather elevated bridge near the top of the sound table. Here the strings are arranged in parallel ranks on either side of the bridge. There are a total of eight strings (on this particular instrument, normally there are 21 strings) – four over the bridge and four under the bridge. There are tuning collars to which by which the strings are attached to the upper end of the neck. The position of the collars determine the pitch of the string. The kora’s strings need careful tuning and the playing technique is highly skilled. Note that the neck passes through the body of the kora. I saw and heard the kora played during a tour of Dakar, Senegal in West Africa and the Canary Islands. I also saw and heard several other folk instruments which I was also able to buy and carry back to Madrid (home) with me. I bought the kora at a large native market in the outskirts of Dakar in December 1969.

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