KORA LESSONS - Basic - English

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KORA LESSONS - Basic - English

Kora Lessons (World)
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KORA LESSONS - By Andrea Candeloro.

Basic Level - English spoken synthesized language with English texts



Your first lessons for the Kora, the 21-string West African harp played by the Jali.

Step by step, find out how to become a "korafola"!

In these 10 basic lessons - divided into several parts, where each part is two/three lessons concentrated together - to be followed in a program of a few years of study you will find:

  • 3 Songs or kumbengo, or basic rhythms to be played on the kora: Kelefa Ba, Bani Lee and Djan Djon.
  • Sheet music with staves and visual indications of the playing strings.
  • Exercises and patterns (from basic to advanced) to develop your creativity for years to come.
  • The basics and insights to create your own rhythmic and melodic improvisations.
  • Audio bases and in-depth pdfs on the various main topics of the kora
  • And much more, such as the Silaba scale, how to tune the kora, melodic variations...


- Created in the years 2015-16, this kora course, the twenty-one string harp lute characteristic of West African ethnic groups, has been developed on several levels: Basic, Advanced/Expert, Extended.

- Starting from scratch, it is therefore possible to train and study the kora for a few years until you become a "korafola", i.e. a kora player!

- Developed with an innovative teaching method that sees the union of the traditional African oral method and the western method of score and music theory.

- This teaching methodology facilitates the learning of the kora making it a musical instrument accessible to all, beginners and experts, already musicians or novices.

The world's first kora video course created to spread and share the passion for this enchanting sounding harp.



The kora is the harp lute of West Africa, belonging to the Mandinga ethnic group and widespread in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, New Guinea, Guinea Bisau...

Built on the base of a pumpkin sound box ("calabasse") and with an harmonic soundboard in cow skin, three sticks cross it vertically and one horizontally. It also has one hole for sound output and a wooden bridge that divides the strings to the right and left. The kora has 9 holes a all "like the human being".

Traditionally the kora has 21 strings and a tuning system with skin's rings (“konso”). Modern kora today have a tuning mechanism in metal keys (like those of a guitar) even with chromatic changes or can be amplified. Traditionally the kora is a modal instrument: it is played and tuned on one scale or tonal mode at time.

For at least 700 years the African kora has been the traditional instrument of the Jali ("blood"), or Djeli or Griot: the African singers who hand down the songs and techniques to play the kora from generation to generation, from father to son. Until recently, kora was taught only within the family circle.

The traditional songs and classical kora rhythms tell of the great African kings and heroes, or they are mythological stories of gods and correct ways of behaving. The figure of Jaly is highly respected within African society. A Djali playing the kora also takes the name of "korafola".

The African kora is a musical instrument in all respects. It is played with four fingers (thumbs and index fingers of both hands) and can produce a melody, a bass loop and free improvisation at the same time. Improvisation is a fundamental element in African music: given a particular song and melody or a specific rhythmic cycle ("kumbengo"), the rest of the musical performance is an improvisation left to the artist's inspiration.

With kora it's possible to perform complex musical virtuosities or simple accompanying music. The kora can play with any other classical instrument, western or belonging to other musical traditions of the world. Everyone can learn how to play the kora.


The traditional method jealously handed down by the Djeli made it easy for all players

Yes: if you are here because you have searched "how to play the kora" or "kora lessons" or "kora course" or similar, one thing is certain: I don't have to explain to you what the Kora is, the 21-string African harp!

What you are looking for is most likely what I was looking for around 2011 (the year in which the embryo of this course was born, then evolved...): a guide, a tutorial, suggestions, lessons, but above all some ideas to increase your musical knowledge, in the world of kora and African music.

That's why I told you before that this was the first kora course in the world (the results of Google and YouTube, still today, speak for themselves...): because for several years no one, besides me, gave online and for free video lessons on the world of the kora, at least not so structured and complete.

There existed, as they still exist today, a few scattered lessons from others - which almost seem to be recorded while the performance is in progress - where they don't even tell you the scale in which the kora is tuned, or don't explain any "kumbengo" (rhythmic-melodic ostinato) .

And yes, that of the kora is a "secret" that has been taught from father to son for generations and orally - every "Djeli" (singer and musician) is a "living library" - within certain families and only those.

Imagine, up to 50 years ago, in Africa, only touching without permission the kora of a Griot (but let's call them Djeli - it means "blood" - as they prefer and not as the colonizers do) was equivalent to having to compensate for moral damage.

It was therefore forbidden to teach the kora outside the family: the “korafola” (kora player) was only a close member of the clan. And the clan belonged to a particular ethnic group, the Mandingo, or Mandinka.

For this reason we speak of "ethnic" music or "ethnic" instrument.


Well, I learned it in several years of study, living side by side with my master M. Diebate and learning the kora in the traditional way.

And the more I went on, the more I felt this desire, this dream, this aspiration grow in me: to share kora and African music with as many people as possible.

But most of the kora players I knew soon gave up studying and music because they found traditional oral teaching too difficult, without scores, according to the "look and redo, listen and repeat" method ...

So, I started wondering how to make learning easier, for example how to create kora scores, or at least visual and numerical indications of the strings to play...

Or how to frame the kora in first person view, so that it feels like holding it in the hands and many other things ...

Slowly, slowly, it all started out of my need: I was hoping that many other kora players, seeing me, could also start doing video lessons from which I too could learn ... I wanted to give the the startiting note.. but then and for many years I was the only one to make structured kora video lessons, so much so that I became a world reference point.

And I would have continued for a long time, were it not that, unfortunately, due to my previous illness, I then had to stop.

Well yes: I interrupted this course and I could not complete it as I would have liked, so I had to leave out of this course many lessons that could still have been done on the kora and the world of African music ...

It is right that you know, but don't worry, because despite this, in this course you will find so much of that material that you can work on it for several years, if not for your entire career as a "korafola"!

And I will still try to update it in the future, even if this is not a promise for now, mind you, but only a hope, a dream ... like the dream I had more than ten years ago: sharing African music and making know the kora to as many people as possible!

I fought in different ways to do it, investing time and a lot of money, sacrifices and hours upon hours of study, to share this information with you... so, I think that it is right that you also value your learning.

Only in this way will you be able to do your best to succeed.

And, I assure you, if you persevere you will succeed!

So, what are you waiting for?!

I'll wait for you inside the course: embark on this musical adventure with me!

Good music, good kora, good life!


I want this!
English spoken synthesized language with English texts. Each lesson is divided into several parts, each of the value of at least 2/3 lessons.
The songs or kumbengo of Kelefa Ba, Bani Lee and Djan Djon are present in this kora course.
Exercises and patterns (even advanced/expert)to train on for years
With video insights and in Pdf.
To be consulted and downloaded.
Method of teaching the traditional African kora, combined with a European approach with visual indications of the strings to be played and sheet music.
Advanced kora bonus lessons
Email support for all kora issues
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