Tinariwen (Tamasheq: tinariwén "deserts") is a band of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali. The band was formed in 1979 in Tamanrasset, Algeria, but returned to Mali after a cease-fire in the 1990s. The group first started to gain a following outside the Sahara region in 2001, with the release of The Radio Tisdas Sessions, and the performances at Festival au Désert in Mali and at the Roskilde festival in Denmark. Their popularity rose internationally with the release of the critically acclaimed Aman Iman in 2007. Tinariwen's biography has variously been described as "the most compelling of any band" (Songlines), "the most rock'n'roll of them all" (The Irish Times), "hard-bitten" (Slate.com), and "dramatic" (The Independent).
The Tinariwen sound is primarily guitar-driven in the style known as assouf among the Tuareg people. The Tinariwen guitar style has its roots in West African music, specifically that from the "great bend" region along the Niger River, between Timbuktu and Gao. The core elements of Tinariwen's music are traditional Tuareg melodies and rhythms including those played on the shepherd's flute, which is primarily a man's instrument; and those played on a one-string fiddle known as an imzad which is played by women. The primary percussion instrument is the tindé drum which is played by women at festive occasions. Another important traditional influence is the lute known as the teherdent, which is played by the griots of the Gao and Timbuktu regions. In the late 1970s, when the founding members of Tinariwen started playing acoustic guitars, they played a traditional repertoire adapted to the western guitar.
While the Tinariwen style is possibly a distant relative of blues music, via West African music, members of Tinariwen claim to have never heard actual American blues music until they began to travel internationally in 2001.
In August 2012, an Ansar Dine spokesman announced: "We do not want Satan's music. In its place will be Quranic verses. Sharia demands this. What God commands must be done." After large parts of Northern Mali were captured by Ansar Dine, Abdallah Ag Lamida was arrested by the Islamist authority in early January 2013. The other band members managed to evade capture, but Ag Lamida was caught while trying to save his guitars. However, the band soon reported that he was "safe and free".
The band released their fifth album Tassili on August 30, 2011. The album later won the Award for Best World Music Album at the 54th Grammy Awards.
- The Radio Tisdas Sessions (2001)
- Amassakoul (2004)
- The Soul Rebel of African Desert (2006) CD/DVD (Amassakoul og Jérémie Reichenbachs film, The Guitars of the Touareg Rebellion), Emma Productions
- Aman Iman (2007)
- Imidiwan (2009)
- Tassili (2011) #68 UK
Music doesn't get better than this! Enjoy!