The archive currently contains more than 100 authentic transcriptions of well known traditional Kora songs. Some of them are played everywhere in the whole Manding culture in more or less varying versions. Others belong to a certain region or "school" and are therefore typical for that style.

The sources for the transcriptions are either field recordings made by myself during several travels in West Africa with local musicians or commercial recordings published on LPs and CDs listed in the discography.

All pieces were transcribed and edited by me in the style I have heard and learned them myself. Usually this is the standard version like it is played by most musicians. Since there is no or at least no publicly accessible notation material available (except in this project), the notations are influenced by personal interpretations of more than 30 musicians, among them the internationally best known Kora musicians like Jali Nyama Suso, Alhaji Bai Konte, Dembo Konte, Amadou Bansang Jobarteh, Foday Musa Suso, Sidike Diabate - to mention just a few. I have learned the songs from their style and have developed my own version based on them - like every Kora player does.

Thus the mentioned interprets represent a regional style (the "school") where the pieces are played this way. No interpretation of a Kora piece is equal another, even if the same Jali plays it, because it's considered a good performance if the Kumbengo (ostinato groove) is constantly varied in a subtle way and is solistically enriched with Birimintingo (improvisations, ornaments, embellishments).

Therefore the notations are not exact transcriptions of a certain performance. They are rather editions and medleys of characteristic, specially typical, "groovy" parts of a piece that sometimes originate from different musicians, included myself.

Below you see a notation example from the archive - ALLAH L'A KE, a song very well known everywhere in the Mande culture area:

the color coding shows which string is plucked with which finger:

left forefinger: light red right forefinger: light blue
left thumb: dark red right thumb: dark blue

"dotted" notes have to be dampened immediately after plucking ( Detero)
uppercase notes to be played with thumb
lowercase notes to be played with forefinger

the notation contains 7 bars (numbered at the lower border) with 8 beats each (upper border) with 4 pulses (ticks, eights) each, 2 bars in each picture

they may be played / repeated / varied in arbitrary order

the 4th picture shows the assignment of the notes in the notation to the strings on the Kora bridge at bar 7, beat 1, pulse 1

see also: Notation System

bars 1 and 2

bars 3 and 4

bars 5 and 6

assignment notation to strings at bar 7, beat 1, pulse 1

Copyright 1997-2003 Harald Loquenz. All rights reserved