Last year, during the summer prior to starting college, I worked at Feynan in Jordan teaching English to the children of the local Bedouin community.
The hybrid of Berber, Arab, Western and black African music styles of the Malian group Tinariwen serves as a sound track to his experience. I had the pleasure of hearing some members of the group in a small venue last year, and that sound of desert yearning, or “asuf”, was almost palpable. Take a listen to the embedded songs in the multimedia files in both of the above links and tell me if you agree.
…soon it will once again be time for Tinariwen — which operates as a collective, with anywhere from five to nine members, depending on factors like who has herds to tend or whose wife is pregnant — to move out of its cultural space and into ours. And with that, the feeling of asuf will return, feeding a yearning for the desert even as it powers the music.