Only women of the noble or the vassal tribes were permitted to play the imzad, the small one stringed fiddle that is the symbol of Touareg society. But now any female musician can teach the instrument to any woman who so desires. The imzad is made from half a calabash or from a wooden bowl that is covered in goatskin and to which is also attached a neck that supports one string of horsehair.
The imzad players were greatly renowned and could play many melodies, those evoking past events or the high deeds of a hero whose name they bore by the richness of their variations; they could also accompany a man’s singing and, on occasion, also displayed therapeutic powers by curing melancholy and apathy.
Good players of the imzad are today becoming ever rarer and its repertoire is inexorably becoming smaller.the woman plays the imzad while seated, with the instrument resting on her knees, her left hand holding the “tabourit” and pressing the “aziou”. The right hand holds the “tadjaihé” perpendicular to the string.
The flexible action of the hand, together with variable light pressure on the string, are the fundamental elements in producing the sound and thus the music.
No other instrument accompanies the Imzad
It can be accompanied by hand-clapping
It can be accompanied by a solo voice
Exceptionally, it can be accompanied by two voices
In such duets, the singing is sometimes mixed (man and woman), sometimes men only
There is a close link with the warrior traditions of the old days
The music also accompanies the women when they move their flocks to new pastures [transhumance]
thanks to ibn chaaba