Deciphering Culture

Posts Tagged ‘Gnawa music

Updating the archive: article on Gnawa music for MTV IGGY

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Healing via Rock’n’Roll? Morocco’s Gnawa Music Leads the Way

Healing via Rock’n'Roll? Morocco’s Gnawa Music Leads the Way

By MTV Iggy
September 27, 2012

Words by Jeffrey Callen, Ph. D. Photo by Nusrat Durrani.

The driving rhythm of the qraqebs (large metal hand cymbals) quickly envelop the listener, creating a sonic wall that simultaneously supports and obscures the bass pattern provided by the hajhouj (bass lute). In a healing context — and this is healing music — the afflicted individual must find his way to a particular melody provided by the hajhouj in order to enter into a dialogue with the spirit that is perplexing him or her. Sung invocations, particular colors and incense hasten the summoning of the spirit and the falling of the afflicted individual into the trance state where the healing takes place. A lila(all-night healing ceremony) is a multi-sensual event but it is the music that drives it, orchestrates its highs and lows, and signals the entry of the different spirits. This is the music of the Gnawa of Morocco and you can hear — and feel — the kinship with musical/healing practices, such as Santeria(Cuba) and Candomble (Brazil), that while born in the Americas, have clear West African roots. You can also feel the kinship with other tributaries of the West African musical river—rock, blues, jazz, reggae and numerous other pop musics—that were born in the Americas but have since spread throughout the world.

(to read the rest, click here)

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Review: Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Marketplace, by Deborah Kapchan (Middle Eastern Studies Association Bulletin)

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This review was published in the Winter 2008/2009 edition of the Middle Eastern Studies Association Bulletin

Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Marketplace, by Deborah Kapchan. 325 pages, 19 b/w illus., endnotes, bibliography, index. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2007. $75.00 (unjacketed cloth) ISBN 0-8195-6851-1, $27.95 (paper) ISBN 0-8195-6852-X.

reviewed by Jeffrey Callen

The ritual practice of the Gnawa, a Moroccan Islamic order formed by descendants of slaves from sub-Saharan Africa, centers on the performance of healing rituals (lilat; sing. lila). During a lila, afflicted individuals enter into trance and communicate with and placate spirits that are causing disturbances of their physical or psychological well-being. Lilat and the experience of trance have been the predominant focus of scholarly attention on the Gnawa, most notably from Francophone scholars (most notably Viviana Pâcques and Bertrand Hell). Traveling Spirit Masters, the first English language book of scholarship on the Gnawa, extends that focus to examine the ways in which trance and the Gnawa themselves have become commodities in the international marketplace. In the “Introduction”, Kapchan asserts that Traveling Spirit Masters is  not a book about the Gnawa but an exploration of the “power of trance, the way it circulates globally, and its relation to music and gendered subjectivity” (1). To fulfill the broad scope of  this goal, the book is divided into two sections: “The Culture of Possession” (Chapters 1-5) and “Possessing Culture” (Chapters 6-11). The first section, set in Morocco, explores the ritual practice of the Gnawa with particular focus on the role and involvement of women, both as individuals who seek relief through trance, and as overseers of the rituals (mqaddemat, pl.). The second section, set in France and Morocco, examines the movement of the Gnawa and their musical practice into the global marketplace. (for the entire review click here)

"The Blues Metaphor" (Moroccan Roll column from The Beat, Vol. 27 #4)

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_The Blues Metaphor_ (Moroccan Roll column from Vol. 27 #4) — discusses the often-tenuous use of the blues as a metaphor to describe and pigeonhole genres of popular and traditional music, particularly music from Africa or the African diaspora).

Tinariwin -- a "bluesy" Tuareg band

Written by Jeffrey Callen

December 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

“The Blues Metaphor” (Moroccan Roll column from The Beat, Vol. 27 #4)

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_The Blues Metaphor_ (Moroccan Roll column from Vol. 27 #4) — discusses the often-tenuous use of the blues as a metaphor to describe and pigeonhole genres of popular and traditional music, particularly music from Africa or the African diaspora).

Tinariwin -- a "bluesy" Tuareg band

Written by Jeffrey Callen

December 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm

“The Sentir is a Whole Civilization” (Moroccan Roll column from The Beat, Vol. 27 # 3)

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“The Sentir is a Whole Civilization” (Moroccan Roll column from Vol. 27 # 3) — A look at the use of Gnawa music, particularly the sentir (or hajhouj), in Moroccan pop music from the ’70s Folk Revival (i.e., Nass el Ghiwane) to “fusion” efforts of the last decade in Morocco, Algeria and beyond

Gnawa sentir of hajhouj

Written by Jeffrey Callen

December 13, 2009 at 1:55 pm

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