Wednesday, October 30, 2013

David Gilden and the Kora

Back in the 1980s, I lived for 7 years in Boston, Massachusetts, and I worked at the Harvard Coop in their record department. I'd moved there because I wanted to study jazz piano at the Berklee College of Music, which had alumni like Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Gary Burton.

One of the things I really liked about living in that area was the proliferation of street musicians, aka buskers. One such musician was David Gilden. He'd studied at Berklee, and while visiting the Smithsonian Museum, he'd learned about a West African musical instrument called the kora, which he spells with a c at his website You can hear David play in a YouTube video at The kora is a delicate sounding instrument, or at least it can be; but when it's played in a duo, featuring the percussion instrument known at a balafon, it can also sound quite vigorous.

Interestingly, David has even adapted the kora in order to play classical guitar pieces by Bach and others. That makes sense, since the strings of the kora are similar to the gut strings or nylon strings often used for classical guitar music.

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