Kora for Guitar Quartet

Homage to Toumani Diabate (2002)

Guitar quartet for advanced intermediate level. Duration: 7 mins.


Demo recording for perusal.

Programme note

A kora is a harp-like instrument from Mali and surrounding countries which have Griot musical traditions.

When played by a virtuoso such as Toumani Diabate the kora can sound like four nylon strung guitars ringing out in hypnotic beauty. So it seemed natural to me to try to recreate the sound of the kora in the form of a Guitar Quartet.

For this piece one of the guitarists must be able to improvise in the style of a kora player while the other three guitarists lay down an hypnotic accompaniment which is characteristic of kora music.

Certain aspects of kora music are similar to Irish traditional music so some of this piece may sound like Irish traditional music to the casual listener, but this is just coincidence. This piece is purely inspired by kora music, particularly the recording ‘New Ancient Strings’ by Toumani Diabate and Ballake Sissoko, one of the most beautiful recordings I’ve ever heard.

However nothing in this piece is directly taken or transcribed from this or any other kora music. It is simply my own take on a wonderful style of music which is considered the ‘classical’ music of Mali.

Kora was premiered by the Cosmopolitan Guitar Quartet at Inishowen Guitar Festival, Donegal, April 2011.