Moroccan Music to My Ears
In my 7:30pm English language conversation class tonight at the British Language Academy, teacher Fatima and her class discuss the topic of Moroccan music. It’s a great opportunity for me to learn more about the Moroccan culture alongside the students. Fatima even had an example of each music for us to listen to so I thought I’d do the same here.
They’re all very distinct types of music and their beat contagious. Hope you enjoy too!
Andalusian Music – listen here
Andalusian music is a combination of music from the Moorish areas of Spain and traditional sounds from the Middle East.
Malhun Music – listen here
A type of sung poetry, mainly in north Africa, Malhun does not follow grammar rules and creates some unusual and memorable lines. Another interesting feature is that it uses Moroccan dialects and everyday speech rather than standard Arabic expression.
Gharnati Music – listen here
Gharnati music is similar to Andalusian music. The name of the music types comes from the name of Granada city in Andalusia and is mainly in north Africa. Instruments used in Gharnati include the banjo, mandolin, lute, and a traditional instrument called the kvitra. The piano is also used these days.
Berber Folk Music – listen here
Berber songs often tell folk stories through the lyrics, relaying historic events, beliefs and cultural aspects. Common instruments include the fiddle, flute, drum, and cymbals with hand clapping adding to the rhythmic beat that is commonly heard in Berber music.
Gnawa Music – listen here
Similar to other global styles of music that originated within enslaved African communities, Gnawa is different to some types due to its strong spiritual connections. It’s used as a way to communicate with and praise God, with the Gnawa people believing that a person cannot communicate directly with a higher being.
Sufi Music – listen here
Sufi music refers to the devotional hymns of Sufis. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam, with music used in spiritual activities to help followers to form a closer relationship with God through music.
Rai Music – listen here
Although more commonly associated with neighbouring Algeria, Rai music, is nonetheless, popular in some parts of Morocco too. It’s especially common in the eastern areas of Morocco close to the Algerian border. The name Rai means opinion, so it’s no surprise to learn that the folk music talks a lot about life, social issues, community challenges, and world problems in its lyrics
Chaabi Music – listen here
The name translates as popular and it combines elements from various other styles of Moroccan music.
As well as being enjoyed in day to day life, Chaabi is often heard at parties, celebrations, events, festivities, and social gatherings. It’s a crowd-pleaser type of music that is sure to raise a smile and get people’s feet tapping.
A variety of instruments are used in Chaabi including drums, hand-held castanet-like clackers called grageb, the stringed instruments of grimbri, oud, and kamenjah. Modern groups might also add the electric guitar.
Rap Music – listen here
Rap is growing in popularity amongst the younger generations in Morocco, with direct lyrics that speak about societal problems and cultural issues. Young groups of Moroccans might blast rap music on the streets of their neighbourhood as they hangout away from their homes.
Moroccan rap music borrows words and phrases from foreign languages, such as French and English as well as using the language of the Arabs (Arabic) and Berbers (Tamazight).