A million and one stars

The desert north of the river Niger is a scrubby dry place. Along the border with Mauritanian and Mali, there are a mixture of Maurs, Berbiche, and Tamashek (Tuareg). I meet a group of Kalashnikov carrying youths (military). The zone is in a state of continuous tension, as rebel raids…

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The end of the world…

I've come to Timbouctou to find a Tamashek guitarist named "Aba". He is from Gargando, and has left music and joined the military. I don't find him. However, I do meet with Mohamed Ag Abothy (or Mohamed "Bidega") who plays the bidega, a semispherical wood instrument with attached pieces of…

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Legacy of Toure

The town of Niafounke is alongside the Niger River in Northern Mali. It is notably famous for being the birthplace of Ali Farka Toure, and the tradition of music continues here. The town itself is mostly Songhai (or Sonrai), and the music that we associate with the North, the drumming…

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The Isle of Morfil

Along the border of Senegal and Mauritanian, one finds the ancient kingdom of Fouta Toro - meandering rivers and wide floodplains, covered in scrubby forest and dust, and occasional green patches of irrigated rice and millet. The Isle of Morfil, named for the elephants which have long since vanished, lies…

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Desert’s Guitars

Moudou ould Mattalla is Chinguetti's most well known musician. Originally from Zourate, on the border with Algeria, he lives in the village and shares his knowledge with whoever is passing through. He released a CD that is sold in France, that was recorded in his home. In his "music room,"…

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Chinguetti; Part One

A small town in the rugged interior of Mauritania, an ancient site renowned for its libraries and a caravan trading town for well over a thousand years.Ambient recordingNearly every night, one can hear a distant drumming and chanting. I stumble out in the dark to discover the source. In a…

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