On the Keur Moussa abbey close to Senegal’s capital, the kora has changed the organ.
The instrument is used to accompany all of the spiritual companies of the Benedictine monks who stay right here.
Monks in blue-grey habits elevate their arms in supplication earlier than breaking right into a chant accompanied by the singsong twang of the kora, a standard West African harp.
“That is an instrument that enables the phrase of God to flourish, it’s not an instrument that overwhelms, it’s an instrument that helps in prayer. That is why we now have regularly adopted it, discarding different devices. Since then, after we speak about Keur Moussa abbey, we consider the kora, which accompanies us from 5am till 9pm’’, mentioned Père Olivier-Marie Sarr, Abbot within the abbey of Keur Moussa.
Koras have lengthy been the instrument of alternative for the standard West African singers, storytellers and oral historians extensively referred to as “griots”.
Plucked with two arms, the fragile and long-necked kora has a sound field made from a calabash gourd with a cowhide stretched throughout it.
“Regardless that the monastery was not the place the kora originated, the monastery has simply adopted a means of modernization of the kora. The founding fathers of the monastery discovered a kora that was conventional from the griots. However at present, the paradox is that it’s the griots who use the fashionable koras of Keur Moussa”, mentioned Brother Marie-Firmin, Monk and kora maker.
Father Olivier recounts how the French Benedictines who based Keur Moussa in 1963 had been amazed on the sound of the instrument.
He mentioned they discovered they may substitute the organ when performing Gregorian chant. A kora workshop quickly adopted.
Right now, the devices produced in Keur Moussa have turn out to be a degree of reference for touring musicians and outstanding members of griot households.
“The kora is sort of a bridge, if I’ll say so. It helps us to transcend one thing, to raise the soul. It helps to unite hearts, to unite voices, it permits us to construct a sure concord between us and a concord with God as effectively”, he mentioned.
Many of the roughly 35 monks at Keur Moussa are Senegalese. They’re a part of a small Christian minority in a rustic the place over 95% of persons are Muslim.
However there are additionally friars from throughout French-speaking Africa, together with Guinea, Togo, Benin, Cameroon and Gabon.