Tourareg Rhythms Of Northern Mali

By Jim Donovan Originally Published In DRUM! Magazine's April 2008 Issue

One of my most recent musical finds is a group from the Sahara region of Northern Mali called Tinariwen ( Their disc, titled Aman Iman, which means “Water Is Life,” is one of the best recordings I’ve heard in the last 15 years. Their music a very interesting blend of African and Arabic influences with a hint of early blues music. The rhythms here are inspired by a 3/4 phrase that Tinariwen uses often. The original phrase (the djembe line) is a transcription from the song “Mano Dayek,” who was a Tourareg freedom fighter. Be sure to learn the djembe phrase first and then move to the drum set variations. When approaching the drum set phrases, learn each line one at a time slowly. The feel of these rhythms is enhanced if you add a very slight swing feel.

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