TARTIT
MALI, 9 musicians



Nothing is more evocative of the fascinating expanses of the Sahara desert than the music of Tartit, a Tuareg band consisting of five women and four men residing in the Timbuktu region (Mali). Unlike that other renowned Tuareg band, Tinariwen, Tartit play quiet, hypnotic, trance-inducing music: the women sit down, sing, and play cyclic rhythms on their tinde drums, while the men accompany them on string instruments, acoustic and electric. The men are veiled, the women aren't. Tuareg society is one of the few throughout Africa in which women are allowed to choose (and divorce) their husbands.
Splendid!”–Robert Plant, upon seeing Tartit at the Festival in the Desert, Mali, January 2003
If everything you owned had to fit on the back of a camel, what would you keep? What instrument would a musician treasure enough to justify taking up precious space? The members of Tartit play the instruments of their Tuareg—or Kel Tamashek, as they prefer to be called—heritage. The tinde, played exclusively by women, is made from a small wooden mortar that the women use to grind grains, and which is covered with a goatskin. Only women of the noble or the vassal tribes were once permitted to play the imzad, the small one-stringed gourd-fiddle that is the symbol of Kel Tamashek society. Both instruments are easily disassembled for use in other daily activities. But their most important instrument is also the most portable one of all: the human voice.








www.myspace.com/tartit