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 from Elsewhere articles index

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Senegal (Rough Guide/Southbund)

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to Senegal (Rough Guide/Southbund)

When the Rough Guide series started there were some rather uneven, not so say dodgy, collections released but -- perhaps as the series gained traction and licensing became easier and more... > Read more

Zusha, Kavana (iTunes)

Zusha, Kavana (iTunes)

This Jewish trio from New York (and a number of guests) explore and interesting, if sometimes familiar, thread within Jewish music. But in their hands this is where tradition meets Downtown.... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

FIVE FOR FEWER THAN FIFTY: Picking up homeless albums from the rescue shelter

FIVE FOR FEWER THAN FIFTY: Picking up homeless albums from the rescue shelter

There are websites and online pages dedicated to the serious art of collecting vinyl records from secondhand shops, junk bins and so on. Most people are looking for rarities and items of value,... > Read more

Kyongju, South Korea: The Sleep of the Just

Kyongju, South Korea: The Sleep of the Just

The middle-aged man was upset I had woken him at the unacceptably early hour of noon. But I guess that's the kind of inconvenience he has to expect if he runs a yogwan, one of the cheap... > Read more