Sounds of the Saharan Desert
 More of this Feature
• Tinariwen: Part One
• Tinariwen: Part Two
• Tinariwen: Part Three
• Tinariwen: Part Four
• Tinariwen: Part Five
  Related Resources
• Africa
 Elsewhere on the Web
• Tinariwen (official site)

Inside World Music: Could you describe the musical style you perform and the instruments utilized by each band member?

Tinariwen: We perform modern Tamashek music. Some people call it ‘The Desert Blues’ or ‘Desert Rock’ or whatever. For us it’s just a modern version of our traditional music. In the group we have three electric guitar players, one acoustic guitar player, one bassist, one percussionist and one female vocalist. Everybody does some singing.

IWM: Can you explain how the group was formed?

T: The original core of the group was formed by Ibrahim Ag Alhabib, Alhassane Touhami and an old friend, who has since died, called Inteyeden. This was back in 1979, 1980 in the town of Tamanrasset in Southern Algeria. Ibrahim had been living in Algeria since the mid 1960s. He went there with his grandmother when he was a child to escape the fighting in northern Mali. Ibrahim had always been very interested in the guitar, and when he was young he used to make his own instruments with an oil can, a stick and some bits of wire.

IWM: Can you recall any social or political struggles with performing or writing your music while residing in Libya or Mali?

T: No, everyone knew what needed to be said and needed to be done. Of course we used to talk amongst ourselves about the situation all the time, but I can’t remember any great quarrels when it came to music. You see, you have to realise that Tinariwen has always been a collection of strong-minded individuals, who write their own songs. If a brother brought a song along that he wanted us to sing, we all usually just said yes, out of respect. That’s how it worked.

Article © 2005 Matthew J. Forss

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