Lamine on Sunday at lunch time

Lamine plays the Kora at Triton Fountain in Valletta. The Kora is a 21 stringed instrument that is played in Senegal.

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 of both hands to pluck the strings in polyrhythmic patterns (using the remaining fingers to secure the instrument by holding the hand posts on either side of the strings). Ostinato riffs (“Kumbengo”) and improvised solo runs (“Birimintingo”) are played at the same time by skilled players.

Kora players have traditionally come from griot families 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. A traditional kora player is called a Jali, similar to a “bard” or oral historian. Most West African musicians prefer the term “jali” to “griot”, which is the French word.

The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a societal leader due to his or her traditional position as an advisor. Although they are popularly known as “praise singers”, griots may use their vocal expertise for gossip, satire, or political comment. Many griots now travel all over the world singing and playing the kora or other instruments.

by Thomas Büsch

 


 

 

 

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