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