An introduction to

Popular Moroccan Music Genres

Amazigh music is traditional Moroccan folk music. The Amazigh live in the northwest corner of Africa and were some of the first inhabitants and they controlled the Saharan trade. The three different kinds of Amazigh music are professional, village, and ritual. Traditionally speaking, an entire Berber community comes together to sing and dance in a circle to the beat of a drum and flute along with rhythmic handclapping. Rwais are a type of Berber musician who performs theatre acts. Rwais use poetry and jewels during their performances and typically the group will use a single-string rabab, lutes, cymbals, and one or two singers.

Evolved over one thousand years ago in Spain, Morocco’s traditional classic music is performed all throughout the country and is even seen on national television! Andalousian music consists of a melody of singers and instrumentalists. There are many sub-types of Andalousian music such as Milhun and Gharnate. Milhun is semi-classical poetry that is sung by traders and artisans in Morocco. Through use of different instruments and voices, it’s extremely lively. Gharnati music can be heard in the cities of Tangiers and Tetouan in north of morocco and consists of a mandolin and lute.

Reggada is a Moroccan Berber musical genre and traditional war dance from Beni Znassen/Aït Iznasen tribes of north-east Morocco. It is very similar to the Allaoui musical genre native to eastern Morocco, that arose around the same time as Reggada. The dance is characterised with the masters (locally called sheikhs). These masters play music and dance using several traditional instruments such as Bendri, Ghaita and Zmmar which is a kind of flute with two horns typically found in Africa. The dancers move their shoulders, a rifle or a stick and strike the groin against the floor to the rhythm of drums. The music often tells stories about topics such as love, emotions of sadness and happiness. From the late 1980s, music synthesizer are increasingly widely used.

Gnawa is one of the most popular types of music in Nothern Africa. The Gnawa are slave descendants who were brought to Morocco by the Arabs and claim to be descendants of Sidi Bilal. Their sub-Saharan music has a lead, long-necked lute player who sings and is accompanied by metal castanets. It has a very enchanting feel to it. This style has been blended with hip-hop, jazz, rock, and funk but still preserves the traditional sound of their ancestors.

Al’aita is the oldest form of Chaabi pop music! It’s the music of the Atlantic coast rural communities. Chaabi is performed in public and private. The songs are sung in Darija (Moroccan Arabic) and tell stories of love and lust, daily life, and loss. Roots Moroccan music is a more sophisticated style of chaabi music that emerged in the 70’s in response to the Lebanese and Egyptian music that was taking over the area. Roots groups typically use lutes, electric guitars, banjos, percussion instruments, and congas.

Dakka Marrakechia is performed by group of male with percussion instruments and drums accompanied by choral chants. Dakka Marrakechia has one of the oldest music festivals in Morocco, Marrakech has celebrated the Marrakchia Music festival since the 15th century. Taking place every February, the festival celebrates the traditional music that has been passed down through the generations.

Sahrawi music shares much in common with neighbouring musical traditions such as those of Mauritania and southern Morocco, yet retain aspects of pre-colonial heritage.[1] The Tbal is the basic instrument of percussion, though the traditional string instrument called Tidinit, has largely been replaced by electric guitar..

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