construction of the instrument

The materials needed to make a Kora
have a mythological symbolic:
gourd = earth
wood = plants
hide = animals
iron = magic

The musicians usually make their instruments themselves.
The materials needed are available at every Westafrican market or in the neighborhood.

The sounding corpus is made of the half of a calabash gourd (Merango) covered with untanned hide of sheep, cows or antelopes.

Die Haut (Nisongulo) wird enthaart im nassen Zustand über die offene Hälfte der Kalebasse (Merango) gezogen.
Durch das Haut geschnitten, das Seil dient 20-30 mal das Loch.

A sound hole and holes for the neck are cut in the calabash.
The wet, depilated skin is pulled over the open half of the calabash
and shrinks when drying thus fitting very tightly like a drum skin
and then is attached at the edge with nails.

Es schrumpft beim Trocknen, sodaß sie wie ein Trommelfell straff gespannt anliegt,
in den ein Schallloch (Bunda) und Löcher für den Hals eingeschnitten sind.

Those nails are also driven in the corpus in decorative patterns.

A round stick (Kora Falo) made of Keno wood (African rosewood, free of knots) - the neck, where the strings will be mounted -
is inserted vertically through the calabash.
For each string a wet strip of skin is braided around the stick.
After drying this tuning ring (Konso) holds the string,
it fits so tightly to the stick that it can be moved upwards and downwards but does not slip by the tension of the tuned string.

Vier weitere, dünnere oben / unter durch Schlitze in der Haut
am Rand der Kalebasse durchgeführte Stöcke (Bulu Kalo) dienen als Handgriffe.

Zwei weitere, dünnere, waagrecht durch Schlitze in der Haut
am Rand der Kalebasse durchgeführte Stock (Baram Banda) eine Verstrebung.

Two other, thinner sticks are inserted vertically in the hide at the edge of the calabash
and serve as handgrips, a crossbar is inserted horizontally.

The bridge (Kora Bato) stands upright on a wooden cushion (Kula Raon) covered with cloth,
lying on the hide and transmitting the vibrations of the strings.

The strings (Kora Dioulo) are made of different strength of nylon fishing line (in former times twisted strips of hide).
The thicker bass strings are sometimes made by twisting thinner ones until they have 2/3/4 times the strength.

The 21 strings run in two parallel planes laterally in notches over the narrow sides of the bridge and are knotted behind with the string holders.
10 strings are plucked on the right side and 11 are plucked on the left side
With the thumbs for the bass strings and the forefingers for the higher pitches while the other fingers hold the handgrips.
There are also (especially in the Casamance / South Senegal) 22 and 23 string Kora variants with additional bass strings.

One end of the string (Kora Falo) is strung
in 6-8 loops round the tuning ring and the other end (Konso) is knotted in the string holder.
The string holders are made of double nylon lines (Kora Busigo)
and they are anchored at the iron ring (Diouto Néo) that is attached at the lower end of the stick.

The gauge of the nylon strings from deep to high in mm:

deep octave
    F: 2.5
    C: 1.6
    D: 1.4
    E: 1.3 or 1.2
    F: 1.0 or 1.1
next 2 octaves
    G to f: from 0.9 to 0.7
highest 3 strings
    f,g,a: 0.6

The inside of the calabash of some instruments is decorated with magic formulas.
The Marabu - Qur'an scholar - is specialized in such spirituel, magic rituals.

The neccessary accessories are stored inside the Kora:
Nylon fishing line as spare strings, (Kora Dioulo),
Loyo - a nail to pull the strings for tuning
and Nyenyemo - a "buzzer", like the ones used by Djembe players.

The Nyenyemo is mounted on the bridge and causes a buzzing sound when the bass strings are plucked.
They use it only when playing outside to amplify the sound.

Der Neo / Karanyango ist metallischen Eisen einen Klang, Jali Muso (Frau) verwendet.