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 (Tinariwen.com). 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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