The KORA is the harp lute of West Africa, belonging to the Mandinka ethnic group and widespread in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, New Guinea, Guinea Bissau…
Built on the base of a pumpkin sound box (“calebasse”) and with an harmonic soundboard in cow skin, three sticks cross it vertically and one horizontally. It also has one hole for sound output and a wooden bridge that divides the strings to the right and left.
The kora has 9 holes a all “like the human being”.
Traditionally the kora has 21 strings and a tuning system with skin’s rings (“konso”). Modern kora today have a tuning mechanism in metal keys (like those of a guitar) even with chromatic changes or can be amplified. Traditionally the kora is a modal instrument: it is played and tuned on one scale or tonal mode at time.
For at least 700 years the African kora has been the traditional instrument of the Jali (“blood”), or Djeli or Griot: the African singers who hand down the songs and techniques to play the kora from generation to generation, from father to son, from kora masters to disciples. Until recently, kora was taught only within the family circle.
The traditional songs and classical kora rhythms tell of the great African kings and heroes, or they are mythological stories of gods and correct ways of behaving.
The figure of Jaly is highly respected within African society. A Djali playing the kora also takes the name of “korafola”.
The African kora is a musical instrument in all respects. It is played with four fingers (thumbs and index fingers of both hands) and can produce a melody, a bass loop and free improvisation at the same time. Improvisation is a fundamental element in African music: given a particular song and melody or a specific rhythmic cycle (“kumbengo”), the rest of the musical performance is an improvisation left to the artist’s inspiration.
With kora it’s possible to perform complex musical virtuosities or simple accompanying music. The kora can play with any other classical instrument, western or belonging to other musical traditions of the world. In this free video course to learn how to play the kora, we will see every aspect of the instrument, from songs for beginners to techniques for the more experienced.
Everyone can learn how to play the kora with this easy kora lessons course, step by step more complex in this professional kora course of training. Traditional method of teaching and learning african music joined with the european approach to notation e musical thought.