The bird’s wings scythed through the morning air imperiously as it locked its position over some ground prey, unseen, scuttling in the wildnerness below. The long arc of those wings; I had seen something like them before. An owl, perhaps, or a bird of prey, a falcon or harrier, a raptor. Was an owl a raptor? Experts would know the difference. They would say they would. An owl, wise. A raptor, terrifying, bloodthirsty. But this was just semantics. The prey, doomed, did not care. I continued on my way. Geese rose up from the water. A distant siren. Church bells.
Kora of calabash, the bottle gourd lute, cowskin resonator, bridge and strings. Kumbengo riffs and birimintingo runs, across the wires of the dancing desert harp. Griot storytellers of Mali’s Mandinka, keepers of memory, ancient people of Sundiate Keita.
Plucking notes that quiver into being, hardly heard above the arid air or the brushing of sand under shuffling feet. A music that is only just, only almost, only about. A music that is almost gone, almost no longer, almost there. A music that finds space – in melody, harmony, timbre, pitch – in the uniqueness of individual notes, to draw a happy tune.