The kora is a 21-stringed instrument from West-Africa. Traditionally it has only been played by a group of professional male musicians, known as jeli. Kora music is passed down through families, and not usually written down.
The body of the kora is made from half a hollowed out calabash (a fruit, a bit like a pumpkin). Attached to this shell are 21 strings, these strings were originally made from cowhide but nowadays it is just as common for them to be made from nylon or even fishing wire.
The kora player holds the kora with the hand grips that are either side of the instrument. They then pluck the strings, the left hand plucks 11 strings, the right hand the remaining ten.
If the kora player wants to play a piece of music in a different key, they have to change instruments. There are four standard tunings for the kora, each one associated with a different region in West Africa.
The SoundJunction piece
Moving Away features two koras. Traditionally the kora is played by griots, chroniclers of history, who record and pass on news through the music.