Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hamadsha Tunes from Fez - Lalla Aisha in Full Jarring Effect

Continuing with my recent set of trance brotherhood music tapes from the Meknes area (after Aissawa and Gnawa), here's a tape of Hamadsha tunes. The performer is from Fez, but I picked up the tape in Meknes in '99.

The Hamadsha are followers of Sidi Ali ben Hamdush, a saint whose shrine is in the Jbel Zerhun mountainous area north of Fez and Meknes. They specialize in working with people possessed by the notorious jinniya Lalla Aisha. The Gnawa also perform music for Aisha's trances, and it is derived from the 5/4 melodies heard here. (Gnawa versions of these tunes, which they call "Hamdushiya", can be heard elsewhere on this blog.) Lalla Aisha is usually identified as Aisha Qandisha, but this is contested by some, including the performer featured on this tape.

The performer, Abderrahim Amrani, is the muqaddem of a Fez branch of the brotherhood as well as a versatile musician proficient in a number of genres. See for his biography (and some questionable pop versions of Moroccan trance tunes.) Or check out more tunes and video on the Fez Hamadsha website or on their MySpace page!

The music on this tape features the guinbri (not the large guinbri used by the Gnawa, but a smaller variety) and the large clay goblet drum known as gwal, along with clapping and singing. Not heard here is the ghaita oboe, which the Hamadsha use in some parts of their ceremony.

Get it here.

BTW - thanks for all your comments recently - I haven't had a chance to reply to all, but hope to do so soon. I do appreciate the feedback and the conversation!


UPDATE - JAN 14, 2013 - Happy to say that Mr. Abderrahim Amrani has seen this blog post and shared more information about Lalla Aisha with followers of the blog! Please see here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Post-Miloud Moussem Mayhem Music from Meknes - Aissawa!

In the weeks following the Eid al Miloud, pilgrimage celebrations (moussem-s) are held all over Morocco at the shrines of local awliya saints. Possibly the biggest of these celebrations is the moussem in Meknes for L-Hadi ben Aissa, eponym of the Aissawa brotherhood. Pilgrims from across the region and across the country descend on Meknes for a 2 weeks of devotion and renewal, and nights of trance music.

Here are 2 tapes of Aissawa music I picked up in Meknes ca. '99. Unlike the released CDs of Aissawa music available in da West (featuring groups from Meknes, Marrakech, and Fes), these tapes make no pretense of presenting a balanced overview of the Aissawa ritual. That is, they don't include any of the lovely sung poetry in honor of the Hadi ben Aissa that would typically open a ritual performance. They cut straight to the chase, hitting the ground running with with blaring ghaita oboes and pounding tbel drums!

I'm not familiar enough with Aissawa music to know if these tunes are from the trance repertoire or from the street/processional repertoire. Whichever it is, these are some serious long jams - the group riffs it non-stop for 3+ sides of these 2 volumes:

Most of Vol 2 side 2 is taken up with a suite of melodies in 5/4 - it sounds like the rhythm used by the Hamadsha brotherhood.

If anyone can identify any of the melodies or the context of these recordings, please let me know!

At any rate, this is definitely a live performance - either the musicians, the microphone, or all of them are in motion - the oboes and drums change places in the mix constantly during the recording. Add to that some weird phasing that carries on through most of the tape, just the right amount of crowd noise, chattering and occasional chanting, and you've got an unintentionally awesome Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka vibe!

Get it here and here.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Amdah Nabawiya & Qur'an Recitation (Mabrouk Eid al-Miloud)

I don't recall how or when this tape fell into my hands. It contains some nice solo and group amdah (praise poetry in honor of Prophet Muhammad) and some solo and group Qur'an recitation.  Melodies and cadences are very Moroccan in character.  (Middle Eastern styled recitations and religious song are also common in Morocco, so it's nice to find some of that down-home religious sound).

Particularly lovely is the group recitation of Qur'an 2:284-286 (track 3). I'm fascinated with group recitation of the Qur'an, something I've heard only in a Moroccan context. Since there are no set melodies associated with the text of the Qur'an, I always wonder how reciting groups stay together in pitch and time. Here, it sounds like there is one primary reciter and the rest of the group follows his lead.

For those of you commemorating Eid al-Miloud (a.k.a. Mawlid or Milad en-Nabi or the Prophet's Birthday), may your celebration be filled with love, remembrance & blessing!

1)  Madh 1 (group)
2)  Madh 2 (group)
3)  Quran 2-284-286 (group)

4)  Qur'an 25- 58-77 (solo - cuts out during verses 60-61)
5)  Madh 3 (group)
6)  Madh 4 (solo)
7)  Madh 5 (group)

Get it here.