Burning Tindé

Tindé is a form of traditional Tuareg music regularly featured at Algerian music festivals. But musicians are often exploited by concert organizers and don’t get properly paid.

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Burning Tindé

Tindé, is a Saharan sub-genre of ancestral Tuareg music. The Tuareg, who have a long musical tradition, inhabit regions of North Africa, through Niger, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Burkina Faso. They are generally held to be of Berber descent, and although their exact origin is not clear, their story dates back thousands of years. The Greek historian Herodotus noted the existence of Tuareg as long ago as the fifth century BC.

Traditional Tuareg music centers on the imzad, a monochord violin, and the tende, a small goatskin-covered drum, and has a rich array of songs and poems. In recent years, it has become very popular with Western audiences. Ten or so years ago, the Algerian government introduced a policy of taking over all cultural events across the country and bringing them under the banner of the state. Today, almost every major music festival is funded by central or local authorities. Corruption and embezzlement is rife. Musicians’ fees don’t reflect the budgets dedicated for these events, and much of the fee, anyway, disappears into managers’ and officials' pockets. Rural artists are exploited, and—in the name of nationalism—the unique identity of their music is being watered down into quaint ‘folklore’.

Once a symbol of pride and uniqueness, Tuareg ancestral music in Algeria is increasingly linked with gloom and despair. Younger musicians are wary of financial exploitation by the authorities, and of subsequent poverty—their fathers’ fate. So they are turning their backs on their musical heritage, embracing a more modern guitar-based style.

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