Friday, June 3, 2011

Bnate Houara

Marrakchi old-school women's party music - rollicking call-and-response singing with funky stratified rhythms on a variety of buzzy drums plus a brake drum or tea tray for some metal clang. This sort of group typically has some songs that roll from start to finish in the typical Moroccan 6/8. They have another type that begins in 7/8 and moves to 5/4, with the same melody stretched to fit into the new meter! Here's a whole tape of those, c.1990.

Get it here.


  1. very interested in hearing these interesting rhythms. i would be curious also regarding your feedback regarding another north African tape -- one i bought in Aswan... my local friends told me the artist is known as a representative of Nubian culture and especially loved for singing in their particular native dialect... two of the tracks have a rhythm in 5 (or ten?) and I have always wondered if this is some sort of standard 'Arabic' rhythm, or if it is an example of African music using a so-called "odd time" rather than the usual 4/4, 12/8, etc. A *black* African example of that? Anyway, given your knowledge of folklore from your own area, i hope to solicit any comment you'd care to make? i'm sure it would be interesting, and that i'd learn a little more about our favorite continent...

    other than the two 'odd-time' tracks and the drum jam at the very end, this tape is not my *very* favorite of the Nubian stash... its a little less raw than what i would prefer -- but my blogger friend WARLOVE4U was kind enough also to post a few more of my collection & I'd recommend "Nubian Blue & Gold" most heartily... go bears........

  2. so i've also got a couple of albums from B'net Houariyat i believe i got them on folkmusicsmb before abdel changed his policy, anyway they obviously sound similar, but your tape is so much more earthy and real... i guess for the cd session the engineer killed everybody's buzz by messing with the mics and levels for 90 minutes, or else the producer was second-guessing all of the arrangements, or something... your tape is absolutely amazing and i'm sure it will be several years before i've totally absorbed it... absolute brain food, the rhythmic changes are fascinating, although i still can't count-along, but i am working on it thanks to your informative notes!!!

  3. listening to it every day... today i could hear the 7, hopefully tomorrow i'll crack the 5... love it...

  4. this really is a wonderful tape, tim. and the art! i'm positively transfixed. its like romantic north african manga at sundown. the subtle beauty of the colors and the script is astonishing. and in the window--from my vantage it looks like the silhouette of a smoking skeleton. am i seeing that correctly?

  5. @Nick - yeah, pretty killer grafix on this one! I'd love to think it was a smoking skeleton in the Sawt el Mounadi logo, but I think it's just a bearded, turbaned character. What looks like a long cigarette holder in his hand is actually some sort of "ray" emanating from a mysterious object in front of the man. I can't figure out what the object is, though - is it a treasure chest? Some medieval gramophone?

  6. @Styrax - hi, and sorry for the long silence. Glad you dug the tape! I agree about the Houariyat CDs released internationally - they have nowhere near the energy (or even good sound mix) of local tapes of this music.

    Looking forward to checking out the Nubian tape you mentioned.

    In general, I find Moroccan rhythms to have much more in common with West African rhythm than with Middle Eastern Arab rhythm. Quintuple meters do exist in the Middle East - for example, the Sama'i rhythm, but the Sama'i sounds really different from the 5s and 10s heard in Morocco. The Moroccan ones I'm familiar with (used in Houariyat music as well as in Hamadsha trance music, some types of Aita, and some performances of Milhun) tend, like Moroccan 2/4s and 6/8s, to NOT feature the DUM (low pitched drum tone) on the first beat of the cycle. So I'm thinking these are, like you suggest, a sort of African "aksak" rather than a Pan-Arab rhythmic possibility.

    I'll try to get some more Houariyat up here - I have a couple other pretty good tapes! Thanks for commenting!

  7. a wonderful treasure, it is almost impossible to find a houariyat cd made only of the two rythms "houari tqil" and the "houari khfif"....
    even in live entertaining afternoons houariyat tend to perform more and more chaabi and daqqa rythms and a feww old houari style along with a "hoummada"

    thank you