The Kora

Fathala Wildelife Reserve
28 December, 2016

The Kora

Digital Photo File Name: DP331222.tif Online Publications Edited By Steven Paneccasio for TOAH 12-17-2015

The Kora is a west african string instrument traditional from Gambia and Senegal and also Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali and Burkina Faso.


This instrument is built from a calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin that works as a resonator. It has also a long hardwood neck and 21 strings that are arranged in two parallel planes. The player pluck the strings with the thumb and index finger of both hands in polyrhithmic patterns.

Kora Players

Kora players are called jails or griot in french, wich are traditional singers of the mandinka tribe, historians, genealogist and storytellers who pass their skill and knowledge on to their descendents.

The Music

The melodies are part of the oral tradition and till the 20th century we don’t find writen scores. In fact the notation system was creataed in late 1970s by brother Dominique Catta, monk of the Keur Moussa Monastery in Senegal and it is used from some Western musicinas to write partitures. Traditional griots still compose their melodies without writing scores.

In youtube you can find lot of music videos with this instrument. Now let me invite you to close your eyes and hear the sound of this instrument with this relaxing melody: