Friday, May 8, 2009

Kora Kora Kora

The past four weeks of my life have been defined by the kora. I chose to study this instrument for my Independent Study Project. I took lessons 4 times a week for two hours each lesson and practiced everyday. I probably practiced kora more in the past 4 weeks than I have practiced my violin in the past 4 years. Truth! I need to change that. But anyway, I have learned so much and I cannot even begin to explain it. I had to fit everything into a little paper...well not too little, but there was just so much stuff I have learned, it was hard to get it together. I met musicians, interviewed and talked to different kora players, found some really incredible music, and learned to play the kora. The title of my paper is "From Griot to Toubab: The Evolution of Kora in Dakar." Toubab, being the term they use to refer to white people and griot the storytelling historians who specialize in music and dance. The kora was originally created and used only by the griots, and now has branched out into other areas of music. Some griots believe it should only be used by griots and cannot be understood by non-griots, but I have also talked to others who believe different. My kora teacher is a non-griot, but he most amazing musician. His teacher is a griot and believes that the spread of this instrument is like an honor to griots and the instrument itself. It is good that people want to use this instrument to spread music. I have so much other stuff about the kora rolling around in my brain, that I could better describe it to you if you asked me sometime. I just wrote a huge paper, I am kind of done writing for awhile. But you are welcome to read it, if you want it, just let me know. I can float it around cyberspace for all. It was nice to not have any classes for that four weeks and to be on my own doing my own thing. Especially because my best friend here left early, I was already feeling on my own and not really into being at school everyday with people who are really nice and wonderful, but I had not made an especially strong connection with. But I am glad I had Courtney for the time she was here! The only thing left to do is practice practice practice my kora for my presentation and performance Sunday morning. I will hopefully be able to post a video of it soon afterward, or sometime next week so everyone can see how awesome I am. Or how nervous I get and messed up my playing is. Then we go to a beach resort to finish up the rest of the presentations, which is basically just like vacation, or extreme boredom. But I am going to take a bunch of books, and hopefully there will be a market to buy the small things I have been meaning to buy all semester, but haven't. Next Saturday at 6am I am leaving for Morocco. I will hopefully be able to write when I am there, but I intend on leaving my computer at my school in Dakar, since I have to spend one night there anyway before coming back to the states. Luckily I get to leave a bunch of my stuff at school, locked up and safe, so I don't have to take it to Morocco. I definitely have stuff that would be completely unnecessary for my trip, and it will be nice not to have to lug it around. I am also going to try and ferry to Spain and explore for probably about 5 days. I am excited about this trip, and I think all the burnt out feelings I have about being in Senegal will be replaced by excitement and happiness about being in a new place. Luckily it is just for three weeks, not over three months, so there won't be time to feel burnt out again. I am relieved and content about being done with the project and almost done with this semester. Hopefully my nerves won't kill me during my performance. I will be home before I know it, happily and sadly at the same time. Traveling is fun, and I really have loved living in a different culture, as hard as it was sometimes. I hope I am not stuck in the US for too long when I get back. But I'll always come back to see my mama and the rest of my wonderful family. Gotta love them. The pictures are me at my kora teacher's house with my kora, my teacher's niece, and my teacher

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