Various Artists: Tuareg Music of the Southern Sahara (Folkways)

 |   |  1 min read

Tarakemt
Various Artists: Tuareg Music of the Southern Sahara (Folkways)

Recently someone posted a link on Facebook to this You Tube piece entitled The Best Guitar Music Today is Coming From the Sahara Desert.

Regular readers of Elsewhere would have known that a long time ago as we have frequently written about Etran Finatawa, Tinariwen, Tamikrest, Terakaft, Malouma and many others.

But there was, of course, music by the Tuareg people of the sub-Sahara long before the West discovered the unique guitar music from the region.

In fact as far back as 1960, Finola and Geoffrey Holiday did field recordings (sand recordings?) there and they were produced by Moses Asch and released on his Folkways Records label.

Now reissued on vinyl through the Smithsonian Folkways archive, the album shines a light on the vocal music (much of it by women) in those decades before electric guitars became the instrument of choice for a different generation.

So here on this album – with excellent historic liner notes by the Holidays reproduced to explain the larger religious and historical context – are songs of love, in celebration of artisans who make their utensils, saddles for camels and such, wedding songs, desert demons and their rare dances.

Not a guitar in earshot.

But water drums, tambourine, tendi (see the photo of the men below), handclaps, conversations, ululations, children laughing and shouting, single string fiddle (at a guess) . . .

Yes, it is all in Tamashek and perhaps of more interest to ethnomusicologists than those who have danced along to Tinariwen at a Womad or immersed themselves in the sinuous guitars on the recent Tamikrest album.

But there is something beguiling about these untutored and often joyous voices and the simple percussion.

It is like being transported to a world which is unfamiliar today and was even more so six decades ago.

This Tuareg album is released as part of three vinyl reissue alongside two other equally historic recordings, Gambian Griot Kora Duets and Lord Invader's Calypso Travels.

You can find out more about them here.

Here are some Tuareg images from the Moses and Frences Asch collection, used with permission.

.

Tuareg_Dance_and_Women_Playing_the_Water_Drum__photo_courtesy_of_the_Moses_and_Frances_Asch_Collection

.

Tuareg_men_playing_tendi__photo_courtesy_of_the_Moses_and_Frances_Asch_Collection


Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   World Music articles index

WOMAD ARTIST 2013; ABIGAIL WASHBURN INTERVIEWED: From Middle America to Middle Kingdom

WOMAD ARTIST 2013; ABIGAIL WASHBURN INTERVIEWED: From Middle America to Middle Kingdom

Abigail Washburn was always going to work in China, but along the way she changed the how and the why of it. She started out aiming to be lawyer working in Chinese-US relations and maybe even a... > Read more

Sa Dingding: Alive (Universal)

Sa Dingding: Alive (Universal)

Elsewhere has frequently posted Chinese, Mongolian and Tibetan music recorded in the field and of earthy authenticity (or soaring spirituality). But we aren't averse to a bit of Cantonese pop,... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007: Watermelon Slim and the Workers; The Wheel Man (Southbound)

To be honest I didn't quite "get" the last, self-titled, album by this rough'n'ready bluesman, but I was clearly in the minority: the album won the Mojo magazine and the Independent Music... > Read more

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ornette Coleman; Original Album Series (Rhino)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Ornette Coleman; Original Album Series (Rhino)

The great saxophonist/composer Ornette Coleman never seems to have been in any doubt about how he might influence the course of music: the title of his first album was The Shape of Jazz to Come (an... > Read more