Thursday, December 2, 2021

Hassania - Awesome Amazigh Artiste from Azrou

Continuing with another Tamazight tape this week, this one by the powerhouse singer Hassania. Born in Errachidia, she grew up in Azrou, where she continues to perform. This album is on the imprint Masterone out of Fes. In the late 2000s/early 2010s, the great Rouicha Mohamed was also recording for Masterone, and Hassania was featured as a vocalist on 4 of his albums during this period. [1]

Tracks A1 and B1 are more pop-oriented, featuring prominent use of keyboard and other instruments as well as wider sung melodic ranges, while tracks A2 and B2 stick more closely to the bendir and viola format, with the narrower melodic ambitus typical of Middle Atlas Amazigh song. I wish I could understand the lyrics, but even without that, the expressive power of her singing is formidable.

Another track from this album was uploaded to YouTube by The clip includes the Tamazight lyrics transcribed in both Roman and Arabic letters. It also credits the track to Hassania along with the viola player El Mansouri Houssa. You may also enjoy the accompanying video of someone driving around northern Bretagne.

Hassania is still active performing. Here is a great live clip from a party in Azrou just before COVID, accompanied by a nice band with drum kit, several bendirs, viola, and an unobtrusive keyboard.

Hear more of Hassania's albums at

Hassania - الفنانة الحسنية
Masterone cassette ماستر وان

BMDA 15-365-11


A1 Amari Ayayinghan أماري أيينغان
A2 Mamiqarkh مميقارخ
B1 Adhouritsal Dhiiy أذورتسال ذييي
B2 Mmi Mmi ممي ممي

320 | FLAC

[1] 2018 Interview with Hassania on Amazigh Scoop (in darija)

Friday, November 26, 2021

Said Akchmir - More Amazigh Viola and Vocals

Here's another viola driven Middle Atlas Amazigh album for ya. Said Akchmir is a viola player and singer, I believe from Khenifra. I don't know who is the female singer on this tape, but her opening autotuned solo vocal passage blew my socks off. I also love the syncopated pattern the bendir is holding down.

As with Ouaboud Mohamed, whose tape was featured here last week, Said Akchmir appears to use studio synth instruments in his albums, but not in live performances. Here is a video clip of him, doing the live thing with the typical ensemble of several bendirs and male singers, one viola, and a female singer (plus a quartet of dancing ladies):

Izlanzik has a few of Said Akchmir's albums: And it looks like he created a YouTube channel this past summer:

Said Akchmir سعيد اقشمير
Isourishtab Oumâcharench إسورييشتب أومعشارنش

Amnay Music cassette 28/2012
أمناي موزيك

01 Isourishtab Oumâcharench إسورييشتب أومعشارنش
02 Mghar Itroukh مغار أثروخ
03 Tharbat أثربات
04 Ayounourikh Anmoun أينوريخ انمون
05 Tahidoust تحيدوست

320 | FLAC

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Ouaboud Mohamed - Have Bendir, Will Sing, Syncopate, and Support

Ouaboud Mohamed is a singer and bendir player from the region of Khenifra. Most recordings of Middle Atlas Amazigh music seem to be published under the name of the viola or lotar player (who is often the male lead singer) or that of the lead female singer. The singing male bendir player is typically anonymous in these recordings, being more of a support role than a star role. I love that Ouaboud plays this support role but also can be the lead singer and release his own recordings.  (Full disclosure: I am a singing bendir player who likes the spotlight once in a while but also loves to play a support role in an ensemble. Maybe it comes from also being a bass player.)

I picked up this tape in Beni Mellal in 2012. I couldn't find info online about Ouaboud, but he does maintain a Facebook page and a YouTube channel. He appears to remain quite active performing at private events (weddings and other parties, and private music salons) in the Khenifra area in formations with various viola players like Moha Amzyan and Mustapha Sghir, and female singers such as Fatima Talgadit and Naima Kouda. The ensembles typically consist of several bendirs, one violist, and one or more female singers. In the clip below, Ouaboud is playing the white high-pitched bendir, and he throws in some great syncopated accents in the 2nd half of the clip.

In addition to live performances, Ouaboud has made several studio recordings under his name, but I don't find any of them on the typical streaming platforms like Ournia or even on Izlanzik, which specializes in Middle Atlas Amazigh music. There a number of clips, however, on YouTube. Unlike in live performances like the one above, most of the studio recordings take place with an ensemble augmented by other instruments including, you guessed it, a keyboard bass. 

On this tape, the studio has "chaâbified" the songs not only by using additional instruments, but also by adding instrumental "refrains" to the arrangements. The first 4 tracks of this tape each begin with a short instrumental section that features a melody played by synth strings and synth banjo (track 1) or flute (tracks 2-4). This melody is, in each case, unrelated to the sung melody of the song (other than being in the same melodic mode). Once the melody is played once or twice, the synth strings drop out and the live, scratchy Amazigh viola enters, playing the actual sung melody. After a couple iterations of this melody, Ouaboud enters, singing, followed by the female lead after a couple of verses. After a few back-and-forth verses between the two singers, the synth strings and banjo or flute return, playing the instrumental refrain from the opening of the song:

Even with these chaâbi tropes, the album still highlights the timbres of the scratchy viola and the buzzy bendir. In contrast to the first 4 tracks, the album closes with a short track that recalls the excitement of the live setting by losing the synth strings, ramping up the tempo, and letting the bendir come to the front of the mix in all of its syncopated glory! (Stream Track 5 below.)

Ouaboud Mohamed أعبود محمد
Tasjilat Igly cassette 5/08/2010 تسجيلات اگلي

01 Piste 01 (in YouTube clip above)
02 Ayaitsikit Ghifi أيَايْثْسِيكيثْ غِيفي
03 Bdou Dimhsaden Âafache بْضُو دِيمْحْسَادْنْ عَافَاشْ
04 Aya Margh Iousmoun Inou أَيَا مَارْغْ أُوسْمون إنو
05 Tahidoust تاحيدوست

320 | FLAC

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Tkitikate! Tkitikate! Party Time! Excellent!

I tell ya, some of the best fun I've had in Morocco has been at parties in Marrakech where a tkitikat group comes to play. I'm surprised I'm 10 years into this blog and I've never really written about tkitikat. Well, I guess it's 'cos I didn't have any straight up tkitikat tapes (other than possibly the great Pokémon tape). Now, thanks to Mr. Tear (late of the esteemed Snap, Crackle & Pop blog, and currently hive master at Hive Mind Records), I've got a reason to write about it, 'cos he sent along this fine tape rip!

Tkitikat is a style of music played by men's percussion and singing groups. (It was always played by men, in my experience, but I haven't been to Morocco for a while, and perhaps there are female tkitikat groups now.) The primary venue for this music is at parties.

Repertoire - like a good wedding band (another type of party band), a good tkitikat group has dozens of songs in its repertoire that originate in various styles and historical periods. To end up in the tkitikat repertoire, though, they ought to share a few key elements:

  • They ought to be in that 6/8 chaâbi rhythm (or close enough that it fits)
  • They ought to be songs that lots of people know OR they ought to have short catchy refrains that people can learn easily and quickly SO THAT people can join in singing
  • Bonus points: When a song's verses are simple enough that you can make up additional verses that were not in the original. (cf. Najat Âatabou's "Hadi Kedba Bayna")

Ensemble - the group will have a variety of drums. The group here is using a tar (tambourine), a darbuka, and some tâarijas. As opposed to female percussion and singing groups like âouniyat or houariyat who perform seated, the tkitikat groups play while standing, sometimes facing each other in a circle, sometimes broken out and moving around the room interacting with partygoers. And unlike a wedding orchestra, which typically features one primary lead singer, the tkitikate group tends to feature any or all members of the group as lead singers.


Gender and percussion groups: I wonder why the female percussion groups like âouniyat or houariyat typically perform while seated, whereas the men's groups like tkitikat and âbidat errma perform standing 🤔 ... Perhaps it's because the male groups are the sorts of groups that one might also encounter in an outdoor halqa performing circle, whereas the female groups are more exclusive to indoor private parties.

Etymology and regionality: I wonder whether tkitikat is something that originated in Northern Morocco. The word is a diminutive of taktouka, which in Morocco refers most famously to the taqtouqa jbaliya - the taqtouqa of the Jbala region of northern Morocco. (We shared a tape of that a while back.) When I was living in Marrakech, a friend who played in a tkitikat group was excited when his group was able to learn some songs and rhythms particular to the North, so there is certainly a Northern tradition. In fact, I remember the groups in Marrakech going less often under the name tkitikat and more often under the name dqiqiya. The latter is a diminutive of daqqa, which is a musical form specific to Marrakech and Taroudant 🤔 ... 


To my mind, tkitikat groups seem like an active repository of Moroccan musical memory. Or like a jukebox - so many songs to choose from, and designed so that everyone in the crowd should find an old or new favorite song to please them and entice them to dance and be merry. The current tape is no exception. Track 1 has a Gnawa sound to it. Track 2 is an old Houcine Slaoui song from the 1940s. Track 3 is a version of Khiffat Rjel (better known as Ach Dani), Ismail Ahmed's classic 1960s hit, sung here with the words transformed from a song of unrequited love to a comic song about different kinds of food, and track 6 is a straight up version of the Jbala standard Ain Zora. Ranging wide across the regional and temporal map!

Well, while I was searching for some nice tkitikat video to share, I actually found a clip from this very album! 👆 It looks like the cassette is the soundtrack to a VCD, which dates this to probably the mid-2000s to early 2010s. And it turns out that on the first track, the lead vocal is taken by none other than the well-known Gnawi Mâalem Abdelkbir 'Lechheb' Merchane! I understand that many years ago, he was a member of Hamid Zahir's group. And Hamid Zahir's music is basically tkitikat with an oud added, so this is some old familiar musical territory for him! Abdelkbir is one of 3 lead singers on this album. He sings track1, the last bit of track 3, and tracks 4 and 7. A comic-oriented singer is featured on track 2 and most of 3, and a third singer is featured on track 6. Track titles listed here are my best guesses.

Tkitikate Marrakech Volume 2 التقيتيقات المراكشية
Société CHAMUSIC cassette
شركة شلموزيك

1 Sidi Musa Âri Âlik
2 Ahdi Rasek La Ifouzou Bik Al Qouman Ya Flan (and suite)
3 Ach Dani L-Bibi Tani (and suite)
4 Mellit Lghram
5 Malou Itghagha / Ana Mellit Lhoub
6 Âin Zora (and suite)
7 Wa Lhiha Wa Lhih
8 Qefla

320 | FLAC

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Said Oueld El Houate Volume 3

If you read my blogposts, you know I'm not always a fan of the keyboard bass that became prevalent in the mid 1990s in Moroccan chaâbi music. Full disclosure - I am a bass player, so my personal preference is for the sound of the bass guitar, operated by a specialist in that instrument, rather than the sound of a keyboard bass, operated by the left pinky finger of a keyboard player who is concentrating on various chord pads and synthetic voice timbres.

That being said, a good keyboardist knows how to excel in all areas, and I often set myself up to eat my own words, so here's a really great chaâbi tape from Said Ould El Houate that uses the trappings of early 21st century chaâbi production to good effect. Yes, it has keyboard bass, but it's in the pocket, funky, and not monotonous. Yes, it has autotuned vocals, but the female backup vocals sound awesome that way. Yes, it has applause from a fake audience connecting each track to the next, but it actually makes for nice segues. Above all, the musical textures remain rich, between Said's grainy vocals and scratchy viola, and the occasional percussive oud or qarqaba to kick the energy up to the next level.

We featured an early, fully acoustic tape of Said Ould El Houate a few weeks ago, but he really made his name with recordings that sound like this one. Enjoy!

Said Ould El Houate سعيد ولد الحوات
Volume 3

Production Said El Houate Vision cassette

late 2000s/early 2010s

1) Bnat El Koliya
بنات الكلية
2) Waleft Chrab والفت الشراب
3) Ktab Liya Nerâak كتاب ليا نرعاك  

4) Al Âita Al Âmaala العيطة العمالة
5) Wahda Tlouhek Lwahda وحدة تلوحك لوحدة
6) Kob Sek Alach Nwasek كب السيك
7) Dawaqni Lhoub Aâdabou دوقني الحب اعذابو
8) Al Saken Al Ârbi Al Bouhali  الساكن العربي البوهالي

320 | FLAC

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Moroccan Tape Stash Live this week with Bodega Pop, Monrakplengthai, and Give The Drummer Some

I'll be chatting and sharing tunes live on the WFMU Drummer Stream's Bodega Pop Live Wednesday from 4-7PM Pacific for a celebration/discussion of the "audio-centric download weblog". Join me, host Gary Sullivan (Bodega Pop), Peter Doolan (Monrakplengthai) and Doug Schulkind (Give The Drummer Some, Mining the Audio Motherlode) for a 3 hour tour of the music blog ocean. 

Stream and join the chat at
Or tune in on TuneIn.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Orchestre Abdou El Filali - The Bride Has Come, also Funky French Verb Conjugation

Aaaah... a Moroccan wedding on a hot urban summer night about 30 years ago. The smell of mint tea and the amplified, saturated sounds of a big jawq/orchestra animating the crowd. After a bit of slow stately music (melhun or Andalus), the bride is paraded in, in all her glory, the ululations fly, the crowd rises, and the band launches into Lâaroussa Jat:

I picked up this cassette on my first trip to Morocco in 1992. It's your typical wedding chaâbi fare, but with an nice punch to it - the drum kit is propulsive, the electric guitar nice and twangy, and the bass and strings also pack a punch (unlike the smooth timbres that would become the norm a few years later). And Abdou el Filali's singing is appealing, energetic, and enthusiastic.

Filali was born and raised in Kenitra. His early musical career was spent with Ghiwane-style groups Layali el Ounss and L'Mghariyine. He later attended the conservatory in Kenitra, where he found his voice as a chaâbi singer. If the info I found online is correct [1], it was Filali who popularized the song Laâroussa Jat, via the version on this cassette. The song subsequently became a wedding standard - that's a notable achievement for any singer! [I'm pretty sure it was played at my wedding - I wonder whether it's still in the repertoire for weddings today.]

Another rhythmic track from the album caught my ear. "Oh, they're singing in French", I thought... "Wait, did he just say 'passé composé'? Are they... conjugating verbs to a chaâbi beat?" Yep - here's what I got:

Poste. Téléphone. Télégraphe. P.T.T. Répétez
Poste. Téléphone. Télégraphe. P.T.T. Répétez
Le verbe 'chanter' en passé composé
J'ai chanté 
Tu as chanté
Il a chanté
Nous avons chanté
Vous avez chanté
Ils ont chanté

Filali remains active today. You can find some recent videos at his YouTube channel. There are some old cassette covers and photos on his Facebook page. And Soundcloud has a rip of the song Lâaroussa from a tape of better quality than my copy. This version also contains the opening ululations and Slaaaaaa ou Slaaaaaaams that are cut off on mine.

Orchestre Abdou el Filali - اوركسترا عبدو الفياالي
K (Kennedy) Music cassette 12 - موسيقة كنيدي

early 1990s

1) Lâaroussa (لعروسة)
2) Hnia (هنية)
    Mali ou Mali (مالي و مالي)
3) Moulat Wa7ed (مولات واحد)
4) Telephone (التلفون)
    Al Wali Sidi Bennour (الوالي سيدي بنور)
    Jaya Min Eddouar (جاية من الدوار)
5) Ma Kayn Khir (ما كين خير)

320 | FLAC

[1] There's not much info about Filali online. The info in this post is based on a scan of an old newspaper article and a biographical sketch accompanying a video clip on the excellent YouTube channel of Hasan Amahch.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Jadwane - Moul Enniya Kairbe7

Here's a very nice album by Jadwane (usually spelled Jedwane, usually billed as Orchestre Jedwane). El Mokhtar Jedwane is a chaâbi singer and composer from Rabat. Quite popular in the 90s and 00s, Jedwane retired from chaâbi in 2008 after making the Hajj to Mecca. [1]

Jedwane's style of chaâbi is of a very different variety than that of Said Ould el Houate which I presented last week. No real âita influences here. This is a much smoother chaâbi, with some traces of Andalusian melodies (see track 2), and orchestral flourishes that would be at home in Middle Eastern pop music or Moroccan chanson moderne. This sort of chaâbi typically bores me pretty quickly, but I must say Jadwane does it well and thoughtfully, and he has a lovely and sweet voice.

An interesting track here is "Oufigh Idjes Inmaden". It opens with a northern Moroccan style of melody and rhythm. Jedwane announces the title of the song in Arabic, "Lqit Bent Ennas", which he dedicates to Riyafa wherever they are, inside or outside of Morocco. Rather than singing in Arabic over this Riffi beat, though, Jedwane switches over to a standard chaâbi melody and rhythm, but starts singing in Tamazight (I assume it's the Riffi/Tariffit dialect.)

It's an unusual approach - for an Arabaphone chaâbi singer to translate an original song into Tamazight and sing in that language. As a way of evoking or playing across the linguistic and cultural divide, it certainly takes a greater commitment and effort than simply playing a Sousiya song and singing in Arabic, as I described some time ago. Jedwane thought enough of the work to include the lyrics on the j-card in both Arabic (Darija) and Tamazight (Tarifit).

This was not the first time he undertook such a project. His online biographies mention that in 1998 he spent 8 months on a translation of his song "Bghini Nebghik" into Tachelhit. [2] 

I know I was complaining last week about keyboard bass in chaâbi. This album is full of it, but it's used here unobtrusively, and quite nicely. 

There's another album of Jedwane's over at Moroccan Tapes and lots more at Ournia.

Jadwane - جدوان
Moul Enniya Kairbe7 - مول النية كيربح

Fes Maatic cassette
c. 2003

1) Moul Enniya Kairbe7 - مول النية كيربح
    Echafi3 Fina - لشافع فينا
    Hezzit Yedi Lessma - هزيت ايدي للسماء
2) Njerreb Zahri W Nsal - نجرب زهري و نسال
3) Oufigh Idjes Inmaden - وفيغ ادجس أنمدن

4) 3tit Lkelma ou Ndemt - عطيت الكلمة و ندمت
    Kayen Had Chi Wella La - كاين هاد الشي ولا لا
    Dima Halou Ki Houwa - ديما حالو كي هو
5) L3arousa Moulat Lhemma - لعروسة مولات الهمة

320 | FLAC

[1] Interview with Jedwane at Hespress.
[2] Biography of Jedwane at Music Chaabi.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Jamal Eddine Said Elhouate

Here's a tape by a young Jamal Eddine Said Elhouate, known commonly these days as Said Ould El Houate. The singer and viola player was born in 1968 in Casablanca. His real name is Jamal Eddine Said, and he was nicknamed ould el houate (son of the fishmonger) because his father worked at the port [1]. He rose to fame in the 2000s and 2010s with a chaabi style rooted in aita.

This album dates from the mid 1990s, and it benefits from the simple production values of the time. This is the simple and satisfying combination of a scratchy viola, a couple of tightly strung bendirs, Said's lead vocal, and some shikhate singing response vocals. Most recordings you find of Said Ould El Houate date from the 2000s and later, when it becomes hard to find chaabi recordings without a keyboard bass. This older style is refreshing, sort of in the vein of Abdelaziz Stati. Like Stati, Said appears to be an aficionado of aita. He has spent time in Safi learning and reviving old songs from the Abda variety of aita [1].

I was surprised to see the song title "Koubaily Baba" on this cassette. The name is reminiscent of Gnawa songs "Koubaily Bala" and "Koubaily Mama". Said's song does not sound like either of those songs, but the lyrics explicitly reference possession, Gnawa and Baba Mimoun. The music evokes Jilala trance music, with the bendirs playing a very syncopated pattern where drum strokes rarely coincide with the beat. So this track is a chaâbi evocation of a Jilala approach to Gnawa spirits.

Said Ould El Houate remains active and popular today. You can stream many of his albums at Ournia and a few on Spotify. And you can find lots of content on his Youtube channel.

Jamal Eddine Said Elhouate جمال الدين سعيد الحوات   
Sawt Ennachat cassette صوط النشاط   

mid 1990s

1) Essamra Qilini - السمرة قيليني
2) Mal Ezzine Tghayer - مال الزين اتغير
3) Ma Bin Lila ou Nhar Lhubb Tghayer - ما بين ليلة و  نهار الحب اتغير
4) Daq Alhal - داق الحال
     Koubaili Baba - كبيلي بابا
5) Moulay Abdellah Ben Lhoucine - مولاي عبد الله بن لحسين

320 | FLAC

[1] Interview with Said Ould El Houate at Doukali Bouhali blog.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Paul Bowles' Library of Congress Moroccan Tape Stash Is On YouTube

In 1959, noted American author and composer Paul Bowles made several trips around Morocco recording as many strains of Moroccan traditional music as he could capture. Bowles curated some of these recordings for release on a 1972 2-LP set "Music of Morocco" issued by the Library of Congress.

Bowles recounts some of the experiences of the 1959 recording project in the essay "The Rif, to Music" in his essay collection "Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands Are Blue". For a deep dive into Bowles' musical upbringing and aesthetics and how these inform his recording project, it's well worth seeking out Philip Schuyler's essay "Music of Morocco: The Paul Bowles Collection", included in the 4-CD reissue and expansion of the Library of Congress album, released in 2016 by Dust to Digital. This release is one of the most beautiful artifacts in my own stash - from the ornate box to the leatherette-bound booklet down to the track selection, sequencing, and notes, everything was done with great care, thought, and taste.

If you can't find the box set, the album is available to purchase digitally at Bandcamp, including a pdf of the booklet. The album is also available to stream online through various platforms, though of course without the reading materials:

I had meant to post something about this back in 2016, but did not manage to do so. While scrolling through Twitter last week, I stumbled across a YouTube clip of a Gnawa recording I'd not heard before, originating from the Bowles' collection, but not issued as part of the LP or CD sets. The video was uploaded by Archnet, a digital resource sponsored by MIT and the Agha Khan Trust for Culture.

It turns out that Archnet has made the entire collection available online in YouTube form! 60 reels of tape! As Michael Toler of Archnet explains on his blog, these clips are raw transfers of the original tapes, so do not expect them to sound like the versions on Dust to Digital's release, which were nicely mastered to improve sound quality.

Still, what an amazing gift to be able to hear these tapes! As an additional gift, Archnet has uploaded a scan of Bowles' own typed notes on the recordings, which accompanied their submission to the Library of Congress: Excerpts from these notes appear in the Dust to Digital booklet, but you can now see the whole set.

I found the Archnet website difficult to navigate, and the way they have named the YouTube videoclips is inconsistent and often incomplete. So for my own benefit and yours, I have grouped the clips into YouTube playlists, which I hope are easier to navigate. The playlists are linked below. I generally named them by recording date, artist name/style and location. A small number of things listed by Archnet or in Bowles' notes are missing or mislabeled, but the links below will get you to nearly everything he recorded for the Library of Congress from August to December of 1959:

If time permits, I'll comment on some of the individual tapes in future posts. I'm of course loving the additional Gnawa material, in particular the hour's worth of material from 1956 (the first playlist above). Until then, there's plenty for you to explore!

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Cheb Khaled sings Najat Aatabou?

Over the last couple weeks, the K7MATIC blog has presented several tapes of the incomparable raï singer Cheb Khaled from the 1980s. I've been enjoying in particular the tapes from 1983-84. These albums are fascinating - existing on the cusp between the old full-orchestra style (with violins, accordion, electric guitar, etc.) and the newer electronic style that would come to prominence in the mid-late 1980s. 

I was delighted to hear the oud on a couple tracks from the album Salou Ala Nabi, which blogmaster Reda dates to 1984. 

As the album's final track progressed from a long oud solo into a mawwal and then into the song itself, I giggled gleefully as I recognized the song as "Samhi Liya Lwalida", which appears on Najat Aatabou's first album on Edition Hassania (which I believe dates to 1983 or 1984).

I'm pretty sure all the songs on Najat's album are of her own composition, so this appears to be Cheb Khaled covering Najat Aatabou. Far out!! (If somebody has different information about the song, please share it as a comment below.)

Check out all of K7MATIC's Cheb Khaled posts HERE. I'm particularly digging Atouni Waldi (1983) and Salou Ala Nabi (1984).

And of course you can still find my post/share of the Najat album HERE. Wow, this blog celebrates its 10th anniversary this coming spring!