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Kora (instrument) facts for kids

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Kora DSC 0355.JPG
String instrument
Classification West African stringed instrument with 21 strings
Hornbostel–Sachs classification 323-5
(Composite chordophone sounded by the bare fingers)
Developed 16th century

The kora is a 21-string harp-lute used mostly by peoples in West Africa. It is a Mandinka harp built from a small 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.

Traditional koras feature 21 strings, eleven played by the left hand and ten by the right. Modern koras made in the Casamance region of southern Senegal sometimes feature additional bass strings, adding up to four strings to the traditional 21.

Strings were traditionally made from thin strips of hide, for example antelope skin - now most strings are made from harp strings or nylon fishing line, sometimes plaited together to create thicker strings.

A vital accessory in the past was the nyenmyemo, a leaf-shaped plate of tin or brass with wire loops threaded around the edge. Clamped to the bridge, it produced sympathetic sounds, serving as an amplifier since the sound carried well in the open air. In today's environment players usually prefer or need an electric pickup.

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Kora (instrument) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.