The kora, which is a 21-string African harp-lute made from a skin covered calabash with a hardwood neck is described by Derek Gripper as “one of the most complex instruments in Africa, an instrument able to perform bass lines and harmonic accompaniment while simultaneously improvising virtuosic melodic lines, creating the impression of a three-piece ensemble on just one instrument.”
The sound of a kora resembles that of a harp, though when played in the traditional style, it bears a closer resemblance to flamenco and delta blues guitar techniques.
Kora players have traditionally come from griot 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.
The ngoni or "n'goni" is a string instrument originating in West Africa. Its body is made of wood or calabash with dried animal (often goat) skin head stretched over it. The ngoni, which can produce fast melodies, appears to be closely related to the akonting and thexalam.
Starting with a wonderful Kora composition by malian Toumani Diabate and finishing off with Derek Gripper's adaptation of the same song for acoustic guitar, this mix takes you through some of Africa’s greatest string music composed from the early times until recent ones.
mix, words & collage (inspired from Malick Sidibé's work) by Tzuc