Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Adventures with a kora

July 9, 2016

I have been prevented from playing the violin or piano by a damaged finger, and yesterday saw a secondhand kora for sale in a local music shop. Since this instrument is played with the thumb and index finger of each hand, I couldn’t resist the temptation to buy it and give it a try. Sold as seen, I knew it was missing a few of its 21 strings. I soon found out that ┬ámost of the strings were in the wrong slots in the bridge, and two were even on the wrong side of the bridge. Four or five of the top strings had been replaced by steel guitar strings. No matter. I started to try and tune it. This is when I discovered that most modern koras are made with tuning pegs like guitars. Not this one, which has the traditional animal hide tuning rings. Steep learning curve. After half a day or so, I reckoned to have 16 of the remaining 17 strings tuned to a decent approximation to E flat major. Apparently I should be aiming for F, but this instrument just isn’t interested in F major, so I let it have its way and settle in E flat. Now the 17th string (second lowest) I found would not tune up to the required B flat, and I put this down to the fact that it is made of a twisted pair of nylon strings, and is probably too heavy for that note. I must order a set of new strings and try to set the instrument up properly. Then comes the real challenge – learn to play it, even to a basic level.