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Baker's Dozen

Resistance Songs: Mdou Moctar's Favourite Music
David McKenna , May 26th, 2021 08:34

From Van Halen to Ali Farka Touré via Bob Marley, Tinariwen and Oumou Sangaré, Mdou Moctar takes us through the thirteen albums, tracks, artists and styles that made him who he is



Takamba is a traditional music that’s really well known around here. There’s a particular dance that goes with it and it’s really dynamic and full of energy. It’s really a music that we know, that’s made by the Tuaregs. So I said to myself that I needed to make my own style of takamba because it’s really the music I love and it’s influenced me a great deal. Baba Salah did one takamba track and then moved on, but he didn’t go too far into it because he has his own style. But I’m someone who has really explored it.

With takamba, the music doesn’t stop, one song can last for an hour. There are lots of solos, with the calabash players doing the bass, then the other players change and the calabash players adapt to that. There are solos where you think they’re out of the rhythm but then on the last beat it all comes together, they come back in at the same tempo as the calabash players. The calabash is the foundation of the music, it carries the rhythm, then the other instruments have strings, some with a lower sound and some with thinner strings but both playing the same notes, and they manage to follow each other, that’s what’s amazing.

Do you use the same technique?

I’ve taken the idea for my music but I don’t have two guitars playing the same thing. On the same guitar I’ll do one part of a solo that’s high, then another part of the solo that’s low, and then come back to the same tempo. I don’t do them together, I do one after the other.