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.
In a bedroom with a notebook and biro. Turning words into lyrics. The radio on. Up-and-coming stars. Thoughts of playing gigs and getting on telly. The songs to be sung and the power to change the world. All those guitars. Rips in jeans and hair falling over eyes. A plaid shirt. Some jotted down chords. Browsing in record shops and nights in the pub. Dreams of success and band rehearsals made up of gaffer tape, howling feedback and arguments. Lying on a bed with the window open in spring. Listening to the news. Stomach cramps. Depression. Drugs. A shotgun. Over.
The road was quiet and amber in the street light. She could hear the sound of violins and voices from high in one of the office blocks. Someone was playing Verdi. She looked upwards. There were no stars in the sky. Beyond the clouds would only be the vapour trails of aeroplanes streaking across the night. Beyond them, satellites beaming TV shows to nations round the world; satellites distributing information about the location of individuals; rockets testing the limits of technological power; defence shields that cost citizens dear. And what was beyond that? Perhaps it was only daydreams and notions.