Muziget Tamazight ('Berber Music')


taos amrouch kabyle woman singer ameroush

Taos Amrouche (Ṭaweṣ A'meroush); the Goddess of Kabyle Song.
(4 March 1913 - 2 April 1976)

Her first album: Chants berbères de Kabylie (1966)
a powerful collection of traditional songs that ignited the (Berber music) revolution.



Etymology of Music

The Mazigh word for music is "muziget", as in "muziget Tmazight" ('Berber music'). The etymology of muziget is still debated, but its derivation from 'music' is possible as well as questionable, since we have other Berber terms that appear to be related to muziget, like the Tuareg one-stringed instrument imzad, and mouzgo (an occasion of fun which can be translated to English as 'masque' and/or 'amusement'); all of which are related to one form of expression in which song, dance and laughter played an important role in ancient entertainment. Berber folklore is full of masquerading characters chanting obscure and masked lore. This brings us to the amusement world of the Muses, and their mosaic work (see below). The word 'music' is widely believed to have come from Greek mousikê, in turn from Greek Mousai, the Muses, the goddesses of poetry, music, laughter, song and dance. Etymologists also derive the word "Amazon" – the ancient Amazigh & Greek women warriors and priestesses of the Goddess, from the same source: Muses. And since the Amazons were debatably said to have come from Libya, a number of Berberists easily lent themselves to link Amazon with Amazigh. The word music was also identified with 'magic', which would indicate both the evocative power of music and its divinatory nature – the true and natural spiritual medium of expression and rite. Some music is truly pure magic.


Did Women Invent Music?

There is strong evidence to suggest that music was invented by women. As we saw above, the most compelling evidence comes from Greek mythology, in which women (the muses) were made the goddesses of music and song. Going back much farther in time, to the Ancient Egyptians period, one also discovers that music was employed by priestesses in temples and places of worship as a powerful medium to connect with the sublime aspect of human existence. The sistrum of Isis wards off the unwanted apparitions of the underworld, in the same way the Imazighen of today jingle metal jewellery or tin cans to ward off the jinn of the night, and in the same way the Zulu pound the earth and beat the drums to terrify the denizens of the underworld – to scare the hell out of them!

egyptian women playing musical instruments

Enchanting Ladies of Goddess Isis.

To Taylor (1838), "the Egyptians appear to have been the earliest people by whom music was cultivated as science. Females appear to have been the chief musicians." From the delicate texture of their attire (as shown in the above engraving), the ladies probably are "of rank", Taylor noted. Regarding the second instrument, the lyre, he adds that Apollodorus believes it was an Egyptian invention, and even gives a traditional account to explain the inspiration behind the invention : a dead tortoise was discovered on the banks of the Nile, with nothing left of it but (the shell and) the dry nerves and cartilages, which became sonorous beneath the scorching heat of the sun.  As Thoth floated by, his foot brushed the tortoise to produce the beautiful sound, to which he was instantly attracted.

As Herodotus informs us, the art of ululation ('aslilu') is a Libyan art perfected by women, and to this day still is performed only by women in wedding jubilations and celebrations. The Tuareg musical one-stringed instrument imzad was played only by women, since time immemorial, with the only element allowed to join in being the voice of a male soloist.

Young girls eagerly learn to perfect the prehistoric skill from their mothers, when an imzad project was created to teach young Tuareg girls the art of playing the (sacred) Imzad, and to promote Tuareg oral lore via the "Imzad Hearers" in the Aïr region. [For more information, please visit: Save the Imzad website at imzadanzad.com].

Rite or sacred music as performed by women in temples, and also probably in caves as can be deduced from local rock art, could explain why singing was, until recently, considered the domain of Tamazight women and girls among the matriarchal Imazighen of North Africa. The only true Tamazight matriarchal society left today is the Tamasheght society; but even them sadly have been recently forced to perform a number of patriarchal con-sessions.

Hence it should not surprise us that old-fashioned men in general had entertained the idea that music and singing are effeminate arts exclusively belonging to women, as their matriarchal origins and sacred functions came to be disremembered, but never forgotten. The fathers and the grandfathers looked with dismay as their sons and grandchildren took the unmanly art, in a society where old traditions still dictate the norms of behaviour. Having said this, things have moved on, very fast, and the rise of the Berber cultural revolution during the second half of the 20th century, coinciding with Europe's 1960s, saw a number of Berber men taking the guitar and starting what now seems to be a massive explosion of Mazigh Music.

imzad: tuareg one-string instrument

This imzad is played by a Tuareg woman during the festival of Ghadames 2009.


On The Etymology & Origin of The Guitar

The word "guitar" was said to have come from Spanish guitarra, originally from the Moorish qitara, which is identifiable with Indian jantra (sitar), Greek kithara, Latin cithara. Whereas the first sound of the name changes variably from one language to another, the root ending -tar is constant regardless of language. The root TAR means 'string' in various languages, like African, Semitic, Persian and Indian languages, as in Berber weter, Arabic water or Persian tar, and possibly also English cord and thread, where 'chord' was derived by etymologists from Latin chorda: ('string of a musical instrument''). Children in Africa still make guitar-like musical instruments using metal cans or wooden boxes (for the body) and chords tied tightly across for strings; and therefore the obvious etymology for guitar is: "a stringed-instrument". In relation to the shape of the harp (played by the first lady in the above engraving), Taylor recalled an ancient theory deriving the first "stringed instrument" from the "twanging of a bow".

Many of the sciences and inventions introduced from North Africa to Europe via Spain were labeled as "Arabic" or "Moorish" indiscriminately, whereas history was specific about the meaning of "Moorish", from Moor, the Berbers of North Africa, as in ancient Latin Maurus (the 'Berber inhabitant of Mauritania') [long before the arrival of Arabs in North Africa]; and hence 'morris dance' was rightly said to mean 'Moorish dance' (the 'Berber dance'), via Old French morois ('Moor'). Check the Berber Keska dance here. It follows then that "Moors" is more accurate term to use, since it refers to the 'Berbers', the original invaders of Spain.

It is an undisputed fact that 100% of the army that invaded Spain was Berber, and was also commanded by the Berber general Tariq Ben Zayyad (whence Gibraltar). Most of the scientists who were involved in the cultural revival in Spain at the time of the Andulusian period were of Amazigh origin from ancient Mauritania and Morocco. The arrival of the guitar in Europe coincided with the Moorish invasion of Spain, where two guitar-like instruments began to appear in medieval Europe, namely: the Moorish Guitar (guitarra moresca) and the Latin Guitar (guitarra latina); indicating that the Latin guitar may have been in use before the arrival of the Moorish guitar in Spain, and that it could have been introduced to Europe from Libya via the Greeks or the Romans (see the mosaic guitar below).


Origin of The Guitar

1 String

one-stringed imzad played like a violin
Ancient Mazigh Imzad (one-stringed instrument, played like a violin with a bow).
From Ghadames Museum: https://www.temehu.com/Cities_sites/museum-of-ghadames.htm

The origin of the guitar is not known. The ancient Mazigh imzad, and other similar one-stringed instruments, could provide an evolutionary origin for multi-stringed instruments, like the modern violin and guitar. Having strings and of similar shape (body & neck), the guitar's origin must be related to the same evolution of stringed-instruments.


2 Strings

ancient mosaic musical instrument from the museum of Qasr Libya

Ancient Berber guitar, from the mosaic museum of Qasr Libya:

The above mosaic image comes from Qasr Libya Museum ('Castle of Libya'), in Eastern Libya (Cyrenaica), and dates to before the Arab invasions of North Africa. It was stated that the Castle's history goes back to, at least, the 4th century. It clearly shows a musical instrument very much like the present guitar, and therefore a proof that the instrument was in use in  Berber North Africa long before the Arabs arrived in Libya in the 7th century AD.

Following the museum link (above) leads to a bigger image in which it becomes clear that the Berber one-stringed imzad had by then evolved to have two strings. Also note the right hand of the player comes from below the guitar, and not from above as it is played today, which explains the small body the ancient guitar had, clearly resting on the arm. This body then evolved to become much bigger (probably to produce better sound), and as a result it is now played with the hand from above the body. The dog, to say the least, is bemused by the music of his master. The liquid of music is left to cool in a clay jar.

It is interesting to note that the word "mosaic" comes from Latin musaicum ('mosaic work'), in reference to the sacred and inspirational work of the matriarchal Muses; as it is also interesting to add that medieval mosaics were often dedicated to the Muses, and thus the Greek word for "mosaic work" is mouseion. This means that 'Amazon', 'music', 'mazigh', 'muses', 'mosaic', 'mooriske', 'masque', 'mouzgo', and 'amuse' are all amazingly related, one way or another, to the Ancient Mediterranean Basin and to one form of expression: sacred art and ritual dance.
The ancient Mediterranean art.
The old days of civilisation


3 Strings

ginbri stringed musical instrument
Image from:en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nuru_Kane_Guimbri.jpg

The Senegalese musician Nuru Kane playing the three-stringed Moroccan bass guimbri, with the band Bayefall Gnawa. The instrument is also called guembri, gimbri or ginbri, and consists of three goat-skin strings, wooden body covered with camel skin (with a small hole), and a stick for a neck. The shape of the guitar can be compared to the following European version of the 17th century:


a youn woman playing a guitar, 1672 ad

The guitar player (c. 1672), a painting by Johannes Vermeer.
Image from Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jan_Vermeer_van_Delft_013.jpg


6 Strings (3 x 2)

The three-stringed guitar, at some time in history, doubled its strings to produce the common six-stringed guitar.



Berber Music

Politically speaking, the Imazighen until recently were denied the use of their language in most forms of culture and expression. But traditionally, they have kept their music alive and very well for thousands of years, as it is a fundamental pillar of Berber life, religious ceremonies and festivities, like marriage ceremonies, seasonal festivals, agricultural calendars, and even during mourning and death; where the ancient mourning ceremony described by Herodotus still invokes fear in the hearts of many men, who attempted in vain to suppress this most ancient and unique practice; in which the earth trembles beneath the pounding feet of distressed women, screaming with shrieking cries in complete trance, to compensate the loss of beloved ones. Words alone may not suffice to convey the atmosphere endured by such deeds, and one must hear it first in order to feel its full magnitude. It certainly did catch the attention of Herodotus, some 2500 years ago.

The very-long suffering endured by the peaceful Imazighen, either due to the continuous onslaught of "exemplary political leadership" or as a result of the "hardship of life" under the bare minimum, is a vital component of Berber song; rich in "emotional sonority", folklore, ancient traditions, comedy, rhythmic patterns, jubilant ululations, and the pounding drums calling the ancestors from the underworld; composed together to produce a new type of entertainment that not only carries the heritage forward but also entertains the soul and makes the mind momentarily happy and free of tense. Berber music is essentially social, joyful and spiritually sacred.

In addition to being sacred, entertaining and traditionally informative, Berber music is also infused with political forces to convey the current state of persecution, where in a number of occasions masquerades the surrounding "triviality" so much becoming "intricate order"; particularly the powerfully hypnotic song of the Tuareg, extending one's  sorrows to the distant horizon of "Mother Sahara", where reality and mirage perform in unison - the obfuscating twilight zone of people without identity or country but 'soul' and 'jazz' .

Where no other forms of Berber expression were encouraged to flourish, and even barred, passionate Berber poetry and music provided the mortal soul with compassion and companionship. Music is something you hear through your ears but the mind signals to all the organs and the senses powerful emotional signals that heal throughout the body and the mind, that made music where it is today: nearly in every household on the planet.





  A Vava Inouva


1- A Vava Inouva
2- Isefra
3- Ssendu
4- Azger
5- Muqley
6- Zwit Rwit
7- Cfiy
8- Azwaw

Idir A Vava Inou Va Berber music from Algeria's Kabyle


9- Tagrawla
10- Tiyri Bw Gaud 11- Acawi
12- Ay Arrac Nney
13- Cteduyi
14- Izumal
15- L'Mut
16- W' Ibryn
17- Ayrib


Berber’s shining star: Hamid Chereit, known worldwide as Idir: “At a time when many epidemics were raging, new-born babies were called Idir to ward off bad luck; I chose it as a tribute to my culture.

I remember the 1970s in Libya when we had only music tapes and records of Ṭaweṣ A'meroush, Idir and Imazighen Imula as a source of information about the Imazighen of Algeria and Morocco. Idir's vivid vocal imagery, evoked from Berber mythology, made his album A Vava Inou Va (1976) a great hit in Libya, and still stands alone among other forms of Berber song, far more complex than the triviality popularised by common pop culture. While Ferhat's revolutionary power had inspired many Berberists to take a more active role in the new revolution then sweeping North Africa - still the peaceful revolution.

Where the press and other media were suppressed, music conveyed the word with ease across the borders of segmented North Africa. Hence It was illegal to possess Tamazight music at the time in Libya, and so listening to forbidden Berber music underground added the benefit of another dimensional excitement.
[The Imazighen group of Morocco and UK's Pink Floyd were also popular in 1970s Libya.]


Tuareg, "Les Chasseurs De Lumières", Idir, 1993.


Berber (Amazigh) Music Websites



  • tinariwen.com
  • etranfinatawa.com
  • rifmusic.8m.com
  • divanoprod.com
  • azamusic.net
  • thidrin.com
  • ithran.be
  • kabyle.com
  • yubamusic.com
  • abdelli.com - the site of the Kabyle singer Abdelli.
  • Genetic music at geneticmusicproject.com - biologist, musicians and software designers have created a program that gives musical voice to DNA. The site links to various sites from which raw genetic data can be downloaded as the basis for further jamming.
  • washington.edu/seymour/altvw104.html : listen to what the Big Bang sounded like billions of years ago at staff.washington.edu/seymour/BigBangSound_2.wav).

Listen to music:

tawalt.com/?p=1024: listen to Libyan music from Nafousah Mountain and Zuwarah.
tawalt.com/?cat=5: Libyan music.
azawan.com/ - lists Berber musicians by category: Tuareg, Kabyle, Rifi, etc. Created on 19/03/2000.



Libyan Berber Musicians


  • Ashini - Tamagit ( Yemma, Ted's'a Fellanegh Tamda, Amusnaw); Tagrawla Tamazight (Edrfan, T3ayadch, Neknim, Es3lay, Libya, Abrid n telleli, Anilid, Azul, Tagrawla).

    Amusnaw, Ashini ; words by Said Sifaw.

  • Dania (Itrinny: Itri'nny, Emghnasn), Zuwarah. Lead vocal: Dania; melody by: Dania & Tarek; back vocal: Arwa, Ania, Rana, Ritaj, Tarek Amran, Aksel & Elyas; produced and arranged by Andrey Andreyevic, Andrey Art Studio, 2011.


    Libyan singer Dania and Idir, Parc de Vincennes Concert, Paris, 29/09/2013

  • Ghasro: Berber music group from Nalut: youtube-nocookie.com/BXXTBGk3mlg

    Ghasro (Nalut).

  • Bendeq (A Tayri A Tamort, 2008), Zuwarah: youtube-nocookie.com/5AHDHLLVJjk.

  • Kessas: Berber music group, members: Ramzi NL Ghali, Bendeq Bendeq and Aalin Amansouri. See Ossan (below).

  • Ossan: Berber music group from Zuwara, members: Ramzi NL Ghali, Read Almansouri, Aalin Amansouri, and Ausman Ben khalifa. Ossan playing in Benghazi's First Libyan Tamazight Song Festival : youtube-nocookie.com/itv4fLRMKKg

  • Ftis (Imazighen), Zuwarah.





Algerian Berber Musicians & Music Groups



Meksa, Anz'ar ('Rain').

Meksa was a Berber activist and a singer who dominated early 1970s Algeria with his unique music, rich in mythology and folklore, as in the above rain ceremony. The artist died on the 31st of October 1988, at the age of 34. No doubt, still remembered as one of the heroes of the Berber Cultural Revolution in Algeria.


  • Amrouche, Taos.
  • Amrouche Chaoui
  • Amadiaz
  • Aissa Djarmouni
  • Aït Menguellet
  • Alileche Moh
  • Alitura
  • Ayen
  • Aziri
  • Belilli Malik
  • Cherif Kheddam
  • Cyvia
  • Debza
  • Dihya
  • Djura Djura
  • Fella Bellali
  • Ferhat Mehenni (Imazighen Imula)
  • Hadj Bouroga'a
  • Hamsi Boubeker
  • Idir
  • Iness Mezel
  • Izenzaren Iqvayliyen
  • Jamal A'ellam
  • Karimouche (Carimaamarouche)
  • Karim Ziad
  • Les Imazighen
  • Litham
  • Lounes Matoub
  • Lounis Mohand Ameziane
  • Malika Domrane
  • Markunda Aures
  • Massilia
  • Massinissa
  • Mazryah (Taziri) Soltani
  • Meksa
  • Merkunda
  • Mihoub
  • Numidia
  • Nurimas
  • Rachid Chalal
  • Takfarinas
  • Thaziri
  • Thiguyer
  • Thissas
  • Trio Gani
  • Samail Ferrah
  • Siham
  • Sliman Azem
  • Slym
  • Ubizar
  • Zohra


Ferhat Mehenni

Ferhat Mehenni

The unique music of Ferhat (Imazighen Imula) is infused with strong political messages and rich in oral traditions. *Wikipediatists say that his, "song acts like the newspaper or political speeches in European societies".  Among the Berbers he is a pioneer and "romantic" revolutionary.

Among the albums he produced are:

  • Tuγac n ddkir - Songs of steel, love and liberty (1994)
  • Tuγac n tmes d waman - Songs of Fire and Water (1996 and 2001)
  • I Tmurt n Leqvayel - Hymn to Kabylia (2002)
  • Adekker d usirem - Requiem and Hope (2004)



Moroccan Berber Musicians & Music Groups



Khalid Izri Thasrith: Rif Music.


  • Abdalghani
  • Abdelmonaim
  • Abdelmula
  • Abderahim Midar
  • Abdeslam Achahbar
  • Abdslam Barcelona
  • Abouzane Lahcen
  • Achek
  • Afroukh
  • Ahmed Arifi
  • Ahmed Tamssamani
  • Ahouzer
  • Alae
  • Alassala
  • Albensir
  • Ali Ajouaou
  • Ali Chouhad
  • Amaray
  • Amawas
  • Amhdar
  • Amira
  • Amin
  • Ammouri Mbark
  • Anwal
  • Anouar
  • Aouita
  • Archach
  • Argan
  • Assam
  • Assithem
  • Ayawen
  • Aza
  • Azeddine
  • Azir
  • Aziz
  • Aziz Mariwari
  • Bader
  • Baghdad
  • Brahim
  • Brahim Wassim
  • Benneaman
  • Chaib
  • Cherifa
  • Chiekh Ouchan
  • Choukri
  • Daryassa Nadori
  • Driss
  • Elamal
  • Elarbi Ihihi
  • Elhaddioui
  • Elhoucine Elbaz
  • Fadma Riffia
  • Farid Imazighen
  • Farid Nadori
  • Farida Alhouceima
  • Fatima Tabaamrant
  • Fatima Tachtoukt
  • Fatima Tihihit
  • Fikri Tisakreen
  • Ghoubid
  • Hadat Ouaaki
  • Hicham Riffi
  • Hadj Atiqui
  • Hafid Rifi
  • Hamed Amentague
  • Hamid Oussama
  • Hammat
  • Hanane
  • Homane
  • Houicne AlMarrakchi
  • Houssa Mansouri
  • Houssain Ghazali
  • Hassane Idbassaid
  • Hasna
  • Hassan Isghnas
  • Hatim Farah
  • Himi An Midar
  • Himi Zaryab
  • Hindi Zahra
  • IaachekenIdban
  • Ilham
  • Ijdi
  • Ilmas
  • Imanaren
  • Imazighen
  • Imatawn
  • Imeddoukar
  • Imetlaa'
  • Irizam
  • Ishgwan Na Rif
  • Ismail Melilia
  • Israne
  • Ithran
  • Ithri
  • Izenzarn
  • Izran
  • Jabah
  • Jalal Imazighen
  • Jamal Arifi
  • Jamal Hameed
  • Jawad Imazoghen
  • Kamal Zhimi
  • Kamraoui
  • Khalid Ayour
  • Khalid Izri
  • Khalid Walid
  • Lahit
  • Laryach
  • Leila Chaker
  • Lhadj Belaid
  • Makh Makh
  • Massien
  • Mellal
  • Mimoun Bentaib
  • Mimoun D'Anvers
  • Mimoun Osaid
  • Mimoun Rafroua'
  • Milouda
  • Mejjaoui Abdessalam
  • Milouda
  • Mohamed Alhoceimi
  • Mohamed Demciri
  • Mohamed Rouicha
  • Morad Salam
  • Mudrus
  • Najm Arif
  • Najat Aatabou
  • Najat Houceima
  • Najat Tazi
  • Najmat Rif
  • Najwa Salam
  • Nawal
  • Noujoum Rif
  • Noumidia
  • Mustafa Ntaraqa
  • Hassan Tibarint
  • Najib Amazigh
  • Ochtaine Lahcen
  • Omar Ayyaou
  • Omar Ait Ulahyan
  • Omar Boutmazought
  • Omar Wahrouch
  • Oudaden
  • Qosmit
  • Rabeh Mariouari
  • Rabh Salam
  • Rabyouz
  • Rachid Anas
  • Rachid Nadori
  • Rachid Kasmi
  • Radwan Wassim
  • Rais Mohand
  • Ramazo
  • Rkya Talbensirt
  • Rouicha
  • Sabir
  • Said Achtouk
  • Said Mariouari
  • Said Rifi
  • Said Rif Rai
  • Said Wasila
  • Said Zaeouali
  • Saida Titrit
  • Salim
  • Salwa
  • Samira
  • Sellam Arifi
  • Saghru
  • Sifaki
  • Shikhat
  • Sorif
  • Sullit
  • Thagrawla
  • Thaziri Group
  • Thawiza
  • Thidrin
  • Thifridjas
  • Thimasna
  • Thousmin
  • Times
  • Toufali Mohamed
  • Twassen
  • Twatoun
  • Usman
  • Youssef Amazigh
  • Yuba
  • Wael
  • Walid Mimoun


rif berber music from morocco
Rif Music: http://www.rifmusic.8m.com/

You can listen to most of the above musicians at: www.rifmusic.8m.com/.  According to this website, Mimoun el-Walid is the king of the Rif Amazigh music, most successful, and most controversial artist of the Rif region, in Northern Morocco.






Apology, playing videos requires enabling javascript.

"Imazighen" music group (1970s): rare Moroccan Berber music band.


The Moroccan group "Imazighen", not to be confused with the Algerian "Les Imazighen", is one of the best ever Berber music groups to emerge to date. They were very popular in the 1970s for their hypnotic melodies and powerful rhythms that made them truly unique. Unfortunately, they appear to have disappeared, as no information about them is to be found anywhere, not even in Youtube (unless they are under a different name). The quality of the above track is not brilliant, as it comes from an old tape, but still well worth listening to. Please let us know if you know anything about them or about any links leading to information about them.


Update (November 2014):

On the 31st of October 2014 we received an email with further information regarding the Imazighen group. We now know that they do exist in Youtube under the name "groupe imazighen" (with the Berber name being "Tarebbout Imazighen" [Tarebbut Imaziven]). According to this interview the disappearnce of the group was due to staying 30 years in exile. In another interview one learns that initially the name of the group was "Nas Alyoum" (Today's People) before it was changed to "Imazighen" (The Berbers). Please check the following url's for further information:







Imazighen Khemisset : (https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/rx33Feznd24)

Khemisset is the capital city of the Zemmour province in Morocco.

Album: Assargue:

  • Adrough
  • Assargue
  • Laghath Ghifi
  • Maydas Gigh Iwsmoun
  • Nighach Awra
  • Samhasn












Berber folk-art singer and songwriter Rouicha was born in Khnifera on the 1st of January 1950. Using his deep voice and the "Ouatar" instrument (similar to the Moroccan Oud) his music conveys a nostalgic and powerful emotional atmosphere reminiscent of the Berber mountains - the mythological burden seemingly Atlas endures for eternity. He died on the 17th of January 2012 in Khnifera.


Rouicha - Adam Yga Amoutl

Other Tracks:









Berber Tuareg Musicians & Music Groups


Nomad Music


(01) Tinariwen
(02) Rebel For Peace
(03) Desert Rebel (Desert Rebel: 2006; Ishumar: 2007)
(04) Touareg Supreme
(05) Takubelt
(06) Amoky
(07) Tartit
(08) Taghdu (female imzad player)
(09) Muntaha (female imzad player)
(10) Alghadawiat (female imzad player)
(11) Islaman
(12) Majila Ag Khamed
(13) Abdalla Ag Umbadugu (Oumbadougou; singer, Takrist N'Akal group)
(14) Azawakh
(15) Ajjo (female imzad player, Niger; Compilation Touaregs du Niger, CD, 2002)
(16) Azwad
(17) Awza
(18) Takrist n-Akal
(19) Hasso Ag Akotey
(20) Abareybon (singer and guitar player, Tinariwen)
(21) Tilwat
(22) Tidwat
(23) Toumast
(24) In Tayaden
(25) Kiddu Ag Hossad
(26) Inerane
(27) Shenna
(28) Koudede (Derren)
(29) Izrou
(30) Foy Foy
(31) Stella
(32) Hamid Ekawel
(33) Koudede
(34) Ikewan
(35) Imaran
(36) Tamikrest
(37) Tarbiyat
(38) Terakaft
(39) Tadrit
(40) Tadalt
(41) Tadiazt
(42) Taliwen
(43) Taflawist
(44) Taflawist
(45) Terakaft:
(46) Miss Ténéré
(47) Etran
(48) Amanar
(49) Aminatou
(50) Amoud Tafkik
(51) Anmataf
(52) Kel Assouf (Tin Hinane)
(53) Kel Guefan (Fulani, Woodabe and Tuaraeg artists)
(54) Etran Finatawa (Tuareg-Wodaabe music group)
(55) Bombino (Tuareg music group, Agadez, Niger)
(56) Kader Tarhanin (Algerian Tuareg music group)




1- Imidiwan ma tenman
2- Assuf dalwa
3- Tenere taqqim tossam
4- Ya messinagh
5- Walla illa
6- Tameyawt



7- Imidiwan win Sahara
8- Tamiditin Tan Ufrawan
9- Tilliden osamnat
10- Djeredjere
11- Isswegh attay
12- Takest tamidaret

Tinariwen's Website: http://www.tinariwen.com/



A Berber Tuareg music group that started their carrier performing at weddings and traditional occasions. For some reason the group joined a military training camp in Gaddafi's Libya where they ended up being dragged into armed conflict. Soon afterwards they abandoned their guns and instead embraced the Sahara's stars with tunes that tunnel down the line with more devastating effects than 'bloodshed'. Their songs carried political messages calling for greater human rights for the nomadic people of the Sahara; eventually leading to their music being banned in Mali and Algeria. Even this year, 2011, the Canadian government denied them visa to perform in one of the festivals held there. To have the courage to defeat war one needs to abandon the instruments of violence for vocal vibrations the ear is destined to hear, before they dissipate fear into thin air. The powerfully hypnotic Tuareg Song; the magical imzad; the voices of the ancestors; Mataraden Anexant of The Rapid Tisdas; the transcendental tunes that put Berber music on the map; etc.


Mataraden Anexan,Tinariwen: The Rapid


Tisdas Sessions

Tinariwen: The Radio Tisdas sessions (CD, 2001)
Tinariwen: Amassakoul (CD, 2004)
Tinariwen: Aman iman (CD, 2007)
Tinariwen: Tinariwen: Festival Med. Loule Portugal (video, 2007)
Tinariwen: Malmo, Sweden (video, 2007)
Tinariwen: Welcome to the Desert (video, 2007)
Tinariwen: From Live 8 Eden Africa Calling (video, 2007)
Tinariwen: With Vieux Farka Toure (video, 2007)
Tinariwen: Live at Lowlands (video, 2007) video
Tinariwen: Desert Rebel, Live at Paris (video, 2007)
Tinariwen: Desert Rebel, Ishumars (video, 2007)
Tinariwen: Imidiwan (CD, 2009)
Tinariwen: iTunes Live: London Festival '09 (2009)



The power of cultures united against democratic tyranny.

PFC Band (Playing For Change Band), Glastonbury Festival, 2009; plus special guests Tinariwen; Francois Viguie; Roberto Luti; Stefano Tomaselli; the Omagh Community Youth Choir; Vusi Mahlasela; and more.






  • Agadez (2011)
  • Agadez (Digital Bonus Version, 2011)
  • Nomad (2013, produced by Dan Auerbach )

Mahegagh (What Shall I Do), by Bombino
Undoubtedly one of the best ever Tuareg tracks.


Bombino playing guitar

Guitarist and songwriter: Omara Moctar ('The Kid': Bombino)
(photo source: http://www.bombinomusic.com/)









Kader Tarhanin

kader tarhanin group playing in open desert

Kader Tarhanin Group (photo source: https://youtu.be/UpTLS2Qjenk)

Kader Tarhanin is a Berber Tuareg music group from the oasis of Tamerasset, Algeria. One of their best tracks is "Tarhanin Tegla" (see video below for full lyrics). Web-page: http://kadertarrhanin.weebly.com/; social-page: https://ar-ar.facebook.com/GroupeKaderTarhanin/.

Group members:

  • Kader Tarhanin
  • Slimane Ahr
  • Fatah Tam
  • khamma Afous D Afo
  • Hakoum Imasli N'haggar


Tarhanin Tegla, by Kader Tarhanin








Adagh (CD, 2010)
Compilation "Ishumar" (CD, 2008)
Desert Sessions (video)
Aicha (video)
Tamikrest at Kidal (video, 2007)



Aratane N'Adagh, by Tamikrest







Tartit is a Berber Tuareg female group from Tumbuktu (Tombouctou), Mali.  Mark Hudson described them as band of "five Junoesque women with copper-sheened indigo shawls and gold-encrusted hair. They exude a sense of timeless female resilience . . . theirs is real nomad music, its measured, propulsive rhythms based on the swaying motion of the camel” (Mark Hudson, Telegraph Magazine, 28 June 2003).

Tartit: Amazagh (CD, 1997)
Tartit: Ichichila (CD, 2000)
Tartit: Abacabok (CD, 2007)
Tartit: Desert Blues Project (video, 2007)
Tartit: Interview with Tartit, FMM Festival (video, 2007)
Tartit: Muezzin From Tartit (video, 2007)
Tartit: Tartit with band Afel Bocoum, Prague (video, 2007)








Etran Finatawa:

etran finatawa tuareg wodabee music group

The Etran Finatawa band is a unique music group from Niger, made up of five artists: three Wodaabe-Fulani musicians and two Tuareg artists, bringing together two closely-related Saharan cultures, to share the same environment, its pastures and scarce water resources. Likewise, the music styles of the two groups were fused together to create a new kind of   musical style of "Nomad Blues".  In 2009 Ghalitane Ghamidoune departed the group and set up another music group: Kel Guefan, also made up of Fulani, Woodabe and Tuaraeg artists.

Berber Music Festivals



  • Libya's First Tamazight Song Festival: (15 December 2011, Benghazi): the festival was organised in association with Libya Channel and Free Libya Association. Attended Libyan Berber bands include: Ossan, Tindi, Ghasro, and Mhamed Qlou.
  • The Tuareg Festival in the Desert (festival-au-desert.org)  was conceived in Timbuktu, following the Tuareg peace displacement, others call accord, symbolised by burning their weapons in 1996; the French band Lo’Jo and Tuareg Tinariwen were among those who helped hatch the notion of the festival.  The festival is a 3 day international music event, celebrating Tuareg culture and way of life. The festival takes place in Mali, in the oasis Essakane, located about 70 kilometres northwest of the legendary Timbuktu: clean sand dunes, tents, camels, and a concrete stage built onto the sand. Most of the festival's attendees are Tuareg nomads who arrive on their dignified camels from all over the Sahara. A truly fantastic opportunity to hear and experience Berber music at its best. The festival comprises about 45 acts, embodying traditional and contemporary music from all over Mali and from neighbouring countries, like Niger and Mauritania. The first festival, held in 2001, was interrupted by Tuareg fighters who had not accepted the peace accord; the second one was ruined by a sandstorm; and the third festival was attended by the Malian culture minister, the American ambassador, Robert Plant (the former Led Zeppelin vocalist), and the Berber stars and groups   Afel Bocum,  Ali Farka Toure, Oumou Sangare, Tarbiat, Tartit, Takoumbawt  and Tinariwen.

  • Agadir: Nomad Berber music, Agadir, Morocco.

  • Ghat Festival: Tuareg festival in Ghat, Fezzan, Libya.

  • Ghadames Festival: Ghadames International Festival, usually held in October in the oasis of Ghadames in Libya, is a colourful event in which people gather together to celebrate, sing and dance. A celebration of local Berber Tuareg culture.

  • Sabeiba Festival in Djanet, Algeria.

  • Takubelt Festival Tuareg Festival in Mali.

  • Cure Salee Festival in the oasis of In-Gall, Niger.

  • Shiriken Festival in Akoubounou, Niger.

  • Festival on the Niger (festivalsegou.org) is a unique 4-day music festival, which will be held in Segou, by the banks of the River Niger, also in Mali, at the end of January 2009. Segou is the capital of the ancient Bambara kingdom, and is the region of traditional music and dance. The festival program features traditional and contemporary music, dance, tales, legends, masks, huge puppets, traditional crafts expositions, and sculpture and jewellery. The theme of the 2009 festival is "Environmental Solutions".

  • The International Festival of the Sahara at Douz (festivaldouz.org.tn), in Tunisia, is a 4-day music and dance festival, celebrating the culture of desert at the heart of the Tunisian sahara, in the small Berber oasis town of Douz.

  • Sydney Festival (Australia): the fist Amazigh Festival in Sydney was held on the 16th of May 2009, organised by Amazigh Association of Australia.



Berber Musical Instruments



Berber Bendir
Image from the Wikimedia Commons


  • Amzad, Imzad, Anzad, Inzad: Tuareg one-stringed violin- or guitar-like instrument, played only by women.
  • Mezmar: mezmar.
  • Fadangama: Tuareg small monocord instrument for children.
  • Odili: Tuareg flute made from trunk of sorghum.
  • Gidga: Tuareg small wooden instrument with "iron sticks to make strident sounds".
  • Tende: Tuareg a small drum or a tambour covered with goatskin.
  • Bendir: tambourine.
  • Taderbouket: darbuka:
  • Ginbri, Gimbri: Moroccan stringed instrument with long neck.
  • Ennay: flute.
  • Ajouag: flute
  • Taqes'bayet: flute, literally 'a cane'.
  • Et'bel: round drum covered with skin, placed on the sand, and hit with two sticks while sitting down.
  • Denget: small round drum placed under the arm while hung with a string over the shoulder, and played with one stick and one hand while dancing.
  • Tishekwet, Tabez'baz't: zukra: bagpipe, also played while dancing with the drummers.


denget drum
Libyan Denget, hit with one stick and one hand.



Music Styles, Dance & Genre


  • Ahwash: Moroccan village music.
  • Takamba: a musical genre characteristic for its Afro-Berber percussions.
  • Tisiway: poems.
  • Gudra: ancient dance, performed by women.
  • Tasikisikit: songs: sung by women.
  • Asak: songs accompanied by imzad.
  • Tahengemmit: slow songs sung by elder men
  • Bellulla: songs made by children playing with the lips.
  • Raiss: combination of poerty, song, comedy and dance.
  • Tagest: dance performed seated by moving the head, hands and shoulders.
  • Ewegh: dance performed by men in couples and groups.
  • Agabas: dance for modern ishumar 'guitars'.
  • Meddah'at: women musicians who play violin, praise and sing sacred song.
  • Shikhat: women singing traditional music in weddings and religious festivals and ceremonies.
  • Tagnawit: Gnawa trans and sufi music.
  • Izlan: sung poetry from the Atlas Mountains.


The Guedra is an ancient dance performed by Berber women and accompanied by hand clasping and traditional guedra drum beats. Nothing else is used. It was said that the ritual during which the dance is performed ensures blessing for married couples and for the whole tribe, as well as induces good karma and peace. There are two names for this dance: the Guedra ritualistic dance starts with a woman covered with a black veil dancing on her knees. But she stands up when she is performing the T'bel or T'bal dance (which is also a name of particular 'drum'). Moving slowly with the hands gesturing east and west, the rhythm develops to more complex compositions, expressed by the hands as they emerge beneath the veil.




Taos Amrouche


 Berber Nesmenser; Zuwarah, Libya.
 September 2011.
 www.temehu.com. All Rights Reserved © 2011.
 Updated: 12 February 2012.
 Updated: 01 September 2014.
 Updated: 22 November 2014.
 Updated: 04 October 2015.
 Updated: 04 December 2015.