Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Senegalese bridge-harp in a French monastery in Abu Ghosh

(Enlarge to see the strings!)

When this Benedictine accompanies her singing sisters and brothers on the kora, which sounds almost like a harp, the liturgy sounds heavenly.
The dim light within the 12th century Crusader church is enough to create shadows for Shadow Shot Sunday.
The kora is from Senegal.
It has been a traditional instrument in the hands of the griot (~ bard) for centuries.
A calabash gourd is cut in half and covered with cow skin.
Over the bridge and up to the long neck are stretched 21 strings made of fishing line.
Hear a little of its sound at .
The modern French Benedictine contribution to the kora (or cora) is mentioned in the History section of the Wikipedia article.


richies said...

Once again I learn of something new that I never new existed on your blog. That's why I like coming here. I would love to hear a kora being played.

An Arkies Musings

Arija said...

Dina, your first photo reminds me of Vermeer's paintings. A lovely instrument but unfortunately I could not open the sound track.

Gourds have good resonance but I had never seen them used for string instruments before. Thank you for the enlightenment.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Come, music spirits,
breathe heaven through my kora,
make your presence known.

Beyond the Walls

Birdman said...

I bet it was 'heavenly". The lighting add to the image, I believe.

Serendipity said...

What a fascinating looking instrument - I'd love to hear the sound it makes!

Sara said...

Thank you for sharing this, and the soundtrack...the kora has a wonderful sound. The sample you shared with us reminded me of American mountain music I've heard samples of..

Until today I never knew of the kora.

Robin said...

What a beautiful, and beautiful sounding, instrument. Thank you for sharing it with us.

My photography is available for purchase - visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

Miss Becky said...

Your shadow shots are lovely. I'm please that you provided a soundtrack to give me a sample. It's a beautiful sound. thank you.
Happy SSS.

Dina said...

Richie, well, I only learned about it 3 days before you did. :)

Arija, yes, that's it, Vermeer! When I saw the koro and the sister, they seemed like from some other time and place. Thanks for helping me place it.

Magical Mystical Teacher, another of your marvelous poems! So perfect here. Thank you.

Birdman, or maybe the LACK of lighting. :) Maybe I will post the pics of the sister on the ladder, extinguishing the candles.

Serendipity, well, the abbey sells CDs of their liturgy . . .

Sara, I read that one way of playing it is sort of like a blues guitar. The sister plays it in a more flowing way.

Robin, maybe you drop in for their Mass one day? Hear it in person.

The Clip Cafe said...

Learn't something new thank you :-)

VP said...

Let's say... picturesque!

spacedlaw said...

A most unusual instrument in the hands of a nun! (any instrument, really, I see them singing very often but I don't recall seeing one playing an instrument - although I would miss the one hidden behind the organ)

Dina said...

Shalom Clip Cafe, good, thanks for coming by.

VP, that's a good description. I agree.

Spacedlaw, well, the monk who played that kora before, he died; and the sister took up the challenge of learning it.
I have a favorite photo of a young nun about to enter the burial place of Jesus inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with a guitar case slung on her back.

Rob and Mandy said...

How very nice! I learned to play kora in the Keur Moussa abbey in Senegal. It is a fantastic liturgical music instrument! Unfortunately, haven't played it in years.

Dina said...

Rob, you're kidding! That's the monastery I referred to in the Wiki link. You were there??? And you can play the kora?!
Tell us more!

Leif Hagen said...

A very unique, unusual instrument! Fun to see - I wonder what it sounds like!

Kay L. Davies said...

What a totally amazing place you live in, Dina. Nuns don't look like that in Canada any more, and they probably all play electric guitars or keyboards.
Then to find out Rob in Barcelona can play the kora, how wonderful.
Isn't blogging amazing? Of course you probably know I've been to Hawaii and met Kay and Art, your former Chicago neighbors. Such fun.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Rob and Mandy said...

Traveling around in Africa in the early 80es, I stayed in Keur Moussa for almost a year, and learned to play the kora. My teachers were the brothers there, and 2 griots. Played it in many occasions.

Cassie said...

Never heard of the kora until now. What fascinating Shadow Shots! Happy SSS to you.

Ann said...

Did a double take at that photo. Never seen a nun playing that kind of instrument. I love the sound of the kora but have only seen them played by African men. There is something Vermeer about that shot.

Anonymous said...

Music - when language has to stop, it takes over and beyond.

Please have you all a wonderful Sunday.

daily athens

annalyn said...

It is the first time I see such musical instrument, it's fantastic and your photos looks like a painting too.

Anonymous said...

What a lovely shot of the Kora, fascinating looking instrument.

Hey Harriet said...

What a fascinating looking instrument. I bet it does sound heavenly. I'm going to the link you provided to have a listen. Thanks for that and enjoy the rest of your weekend :)

LauraX said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos Dina. How fortunate you are to live in a place with so much cultural diversity.

JM said...

The harp is amazing! The kind of african art I just love.

Kay said...

How fabulous that she learned how to play this different instrument. I agree about the Vermeer look-a-like.

Eki said...

It's a curious musical instrument. Will try to open the sound track later.

Eki said...

The sound's magical too! Thanks for sharing, Dina!