Two days ago, a French TV channel paid homage to “Oualidia”, calling the small coastal city the “Pearl of the Atlantic Ocean.” The segment celebrates the Moroccan village as an unmissable destination for surfers and lovers of water sports. In fact, a local surf school is the first and oldest surf centre in Morocco. “Surf Land” trained Ramzi Boukhiam, the Moroccan soon-to-be Olympic surfer. Keeping that in mind, we think another aspect of Morocco which deserves to be talked about it the melodies it holds in it’s chest.
Morocco is a land of diversity and intrigue, especially when it comes to the music scene. The music has categories where traditions are kept intact yet modern melodies take up inspiration from around the world. Hence when the final result comes to fruition, it is quite literally music to the ears.
In a land where culture and tradition run rich and deep in the lives of the people, music is no exception. While Moroccan music may have its own flair going that carries on the traditions and legacies, there are many genres that are inclusive of the Moroccan music. Today the Fynch brings light to music of Berber.
The Berber are the first known people to inhabit the north-western corner of Africa. Since they had the monopoly in trade, power and culture, their music has always been part of Morocco. This particular genre includes three main categories: village, ritual and professional.
When it comes to making the village music, usually an entire community would get together in the open air to sing and dance in a large ring with drums- Bendir and a flute- Nair. The best-known dances that are performed during this are the Ahouache and the Ahidus, which have gained immense recognition during the past twenty years nationwide.
The Berber ritual music consists of drums and handclapping. As the category states, this music is played during rituals such as in the rites to the agricultural calendar and marriages. It is also played to ward off evil spirits. Professional musicians called Imdyazn travel in a group of four that is led by a poet called Amydaz. The Amydaz then performs poems that are improvised and accompanied by music. The music is played with help of drums and Rabab- a one-stringed fiddle, along with a Bououghanim who is someone who plays the double clarinet and acts as the clown for the group.
Professional Berber music is often played by professional musicians known as the Rwais. They play an ensemble consisting of lutes, rababs and cymbals accompanied with vocals. The group includes a leader called Rayes, who leads the choreography and music of the group. These performances start off with an instrumental Astara on rabab which provides the notes to the melody which follows. Then this is followed by Amarg: sung poetry, Ammussu: a danced overture, Tammust: an energetic song, Aberdag: a dance and finally the swiftly rhythmic Tabbayt. There can be a change in the order of these phases but the start is always with the Astara and the end is always with the Tabbayt.
There are many Berber musicians that have gained popularity and are respected across Moroccan soil such as Bahija d Omar, Aicha Tachinwite, B’net Marrakech and Hassan Arsmouk among many others. Indeed this music may sound basic to some but it hold the traditions and customs of Moroccan culture in every melody that is played that is definitely a delight to listen to.