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Kora Instrument

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Do you know  Kora is an Africa Instrument that has existed from the 16th century? 

What is Kora

A kora is a Mandinka harp built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck. The skin is supported by two handles that run under it. It has 21 strings, each playing a different note. It supports a notched double free-standing bridge. It doesn’t fit into any one category of musical instrument, but rather a several, and must be classified as a “double-bridge-harp-lute”. The strings run in two divided ranks, making it a double harp. They do not end in a soundboard but are held in notches on a bridge, making it a bridge harp. They originate from a string arm or neck and cross a bridge directly supported by a resonating chamber, making it a lute too.

The sound of a kora resembles that of a harp, though when played in the traditional style, Kora players have traditionally come from jali families (also from the Mandinka nationalities) who are traditional historians, genealogists, and storytellers who pass their skills on to their descendants. The instrument is played in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Burkina Faso, and The Gambia.

A kora player wearing a Korte necklace, from the central northern (The late 1700s).

The kora is designed like a bow with a gourd. The earliest European reference to the kora in Western literature is in Travels in Interior Districts of Africa (1799) by the Scotsman Mungo Park. The people of Mandinka are known for their oral tradition, this tradition is passed down from father to son.

The origin 

The origin of kora is ultimately linked with Jali Mady Fouling Cissoko, sometime after the founding of Kaabu in the 16th century. The kora music being part of the oral tradition, its music was not written until the 20th century, while griots still compose in the traditional way (without writing scores), some Western musicians began to write partiture for the kora and adopted the Keur Moussa notation system at the beginning of the 1980s.


She is the first female Kora Virtuoso from a west African Griot lineage, she is a singer, producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist.


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