Sunday, January 20, 2013

Ahwach from Tafraout

Here's a swell recording of ahwach, the communal song-dance-drum tradition of the Tachelhit-speaking Imazighen/Berbers of southern Morocco. Rhythms and forms change from region to region and tribe to tribe. The ensembles can be huge - there are 30 people pictured on this j-card. It's a big, rhythmic sound!

Since the group's name refers to it, I assume they come from the city of Tafraout. As Mr. Tear points out in comments to another ahwach post at Awesome Tapes from Africa, the rock pictured here (and on Awesome Tapes' cassette) is called Le Chapeau de Napoléon and is just outside of Tafraout. He also mentioned that Tafraout is host to the annual Tifawin Festival. This cassette's j-card includes the logo from that festival, but it doesn't sound to me like a live recording.

I've never been down to that area of Morocco, and my only experience of live ahwach has been at the annual Festival National des Arts Populaires in Marrakech ("the folklore festival"), where 20 groups each get a 5-minute performance slot. It's an impressive show, but you know you're only getting the highlight reel, as a typical ahwach performance goes on much longer. Someday I hope I'll have the chance to see a performance at a wedding or other community event rather than on a festival stage. Here's a short clip of this group's singer in such a performance:

Ahwach Argan Tafraout - Othman Azolid & Al Hajj Âabd o Tata - Ttamza Music cassette

Track 3 (of 3) - excerpt

Get it all here.

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