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date: 22 November 2019



A plucked string instrument invented by Robert Grawi (b Port Jervis, NY, 1947), a musician and graduate of Cornell University, trademarked in 1973–4 (patented 1984, 1986). Inspired by the West African kora, early models were acoustic and built on a bamboo frame with basket resonator. Later models lack a resonator and are electronically amplified. The current ‘Signature series’ Gravikord has 24 nylon strings arranged in two ranks of 12 on either side of a stainless steel frame about 130 cm long. The strings are tuned diatonically in symmetric alternation between the two ranges, normally in G major/E minor, by means of machine tuners at the base. A piezo-electric pickup is integral with the bridge, which is machined from a synthetic material and has an adjustable metal pressure crossbar at the top that operates as a mechanical tone control and bridge stabilizer. The player plucks the strings with the thumb and index finger of both hands while holding the instrument with the palms of the hands by two handles located near the bridge. Accidentals can be sounded by tensioning the section of the string behind the bridge with one finger while plucking normally. A pedal-operated device makes the instrument fully chromatic by shifting its tuning up or down one half step. Grawi’s Gravi-kora is a 21-string instrument of similar design but incorporating the asymmetric tuning, playing position, and techniques of the traditional kora. The instruments are produced by White Bear Enterprises in Florida, NY. (B. Hopkin: ...

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