Tuesday, August 5, 2014

L'Hajja L'Hamdaouya and her Âita Big Band


Here's another vintage album from âita pioneer L'Hajja L'Hamdaouya. These are some classic âita marsawiya and chaâbi tunes here, the sort you would hear typically with a small ensemble (oud, viola, derbuka, bendir) such as that of Bouchaib el Bidaoui. Hamdaouya performs them here with a larger ensemble including several violas, flute, and tar (tambourine). Interesting to hear the âita-style viola riffing with multiple violas, and the nice looooooose heterophony and prominent tambourine give these recordings an almost Arab-Andalusian âla vibe in places. And on top of that, it also manages to rock!

Some of these songs can be heard by other performers elsewhere in the Stash. "Ma Cheftou Leghzal" appears by Bouchaib el Bidaoui here. And "Elghaba" appears (in a version about 7 times faster) by Hamid Zahir and Alfarqat Almarrakchiya here. Enjoy!

L'Hajja L'Hamdaouya - TCK647
01 Errabta 1

02 Errabta 2
03 Essa'diya
04 Elghaba
05 Ma Cheftou Leghzal

Get it all here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Eine Kleine Nacht-Âita - a little âita for the heart


Ramadan Mubarak, and prayers for the bereaved in Iraq, Syria, Palestine/Israel, the relatives of those lost over the skies of Ukraine, and all those suffering around our blue warming sphere.

Another âita tape, however great, may seem a distraction in these troubled days. I'm offering it in hopes that it warms the heart and reaffirms humanity for a moment.


It's another vintage recording of Shikh El Houcine El Khouribgui, who has been featured here before, and it's on the great label Production Hicham El Atlas. Plucked new off the shelf in 2012 around Beni Mellal, it's definitely a reissue of an older recording. The tape begins by announcing "Istwanat Markikphone toukadime Shikh El Houcine el Khouribui" (Markikphone Records presents...). The great website settatbladi.org has this image of a cassette reissue of Shikh El Houcine on Markikphone (I assume it's a reissue because the j-card reads in Arabic "the late Shikh El Houcine...):


The centerpiece of the album is the opening piece "Dami", a long form âita with a great 10/8 rhythmic cycle. The j-card lists the titles "Lli Bgha Hbibou" and "Lehsab", but neither track 2 nor 3 sound like other versions of those songs that I know. I labeled track 2 "Nghadrou Kissane" because it shares lyrics with Bouchaib el Bidaoui's track of the same name, and I left track 3 as "Lli Bgha Hbibou", cause I hear the word habibi a lot. Whatever the correct titles may be, I hope you enjoy the old scratchy groove!

Chikh L'Houcine Lakhribgui - Dami (Production Hicham Al Atlas 17)
1) Dami (excerpt below)

2) Nghadrou Kissane
3) Lli Bgha Hbibou
4) Taârida

Get it here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Moroccan Field Recordings at Pitt Rivers Museum


Oxford's Pitt Rivers Museum offers online samples from ethnographic field recordings in their collection. Among these are some recordings from a 1961 Oxford University expedition to Morocco.



The Aït Hdidou are Tamazight speakers from the south-eastern High Atlas. The tribe are perhaps most well known for their participation in the Brides festival at Imilchil. Tracks 1-7 feature variously vocals only (1), vocals and drum (5-6), and vocals drum and violin (2-4). Tracks 5-6 sound like an ahaidous, the Tamazight equivalent of the Tachelhit ahwach.

Tracks 7-9 are street recordings from Rabat. Track 7 is listed as an Ait Hadiddu beggar, but I'm guessing that it actually is from Rabat and from the same date as tracks 8-9. The beggar sings in Arabic and mentions l-âwacher (the ten days preceding a holiday), as do the singers in track 9, and the catalog numbers indicate these tracks come from the same tape reel. I'm pretty sure I can hear a guinbri being thumped in the first half of track 9, suggesting that it's a Gnawi singing. He's invoking the saint Moulay Brahim, but it's not a melody I recognize. If this was indeed recorded in August 1961, the holiday referred to would be mawlid an-nabi - the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, which occurred around 8/24 that year.

Track 10 is some ghaita and tbel processional music from the city of Rich - back at the eastern edges of the High Atlas.

Thanks to Phong Tran for letting me know about this! It's great that some sound archives are making old and rare field recordings available to at least sample online. There are some Moroccan recordings available in the Lomax collection, as I wrote about here.