Gnawa, across the desert

They said 'we behold you as one diligent in your pursuit of much journeying,On the earth. For a while you stay, and then you journey on your way.'I said, 'Were there no benefit to be gained in travelling,The sun would not change its stations in its heavenly mansions.'- Al-Tadili recording…

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Lere

In Lere, Mohamed Issa, from the group Tartit, arrives on the tail of a dust storm. He is here for one night, and then departing to play in a marriage "en brousse". Accompanied by myself and Abou, a young apprentice, we play out by the tent until the early hours.Mohammad…

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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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