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