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Musiques dailleurs et dautrefois / Music from far away and from long ago

Maroc I

Chants savants et populaires


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Musiques dailleurs et dautrefois


Maroc I,
Chants savants et populaires.
Les aventures de lhistoire
Situ lextrme occident (al-Maghrib al-aqs) du domaine arabo-musulman, le Maroc
a connu une histoire musicale complexe, o se sont entrelaces les influences chamites,
smitiques, chamito-smitiques et indo-europennes. Riche de musiques trs diverses et
peu tudies pour beaucoup dentre elles, il reprsente un domaine de prdilection pour les
chercheurs et les mlomanes.
A lheure actuelle, les chants populaires citadins (al-malhn) et les imitations occidentales
(ra, rock ou pop) tiennent le haut du pav, en ce qui concerne la popularit et la diffusion.
La musique savante (al-la) est soutenue bout de bras par les autorits, les conservatoires,
la radio et la tlvision, mais ses ensembles plthoriques et occidentaliss ne suscitent plus
quun ennui ltal. Nous avons voulu faire redcouvrir aux marocains des enregistrements de
technique acoustique remontant pour la plupart la priode 1920-1927 et envoys la casse
aprs lapparition de la technique lectrique au Maghreb, entre 1928 et 1930. Beaucoup de
musiciens rediffuss ici ne sont plus que des noms ou des lgendes pour la plupart des rudits
et des amateurs qui auront ainsi la chance dentendre enfin ceux qui ont contribu lessor
de la musique marocaine.
Un autre univers musical souvre nous, trs loign de ce que lon croit tre de nos jours
la la et le malhn. Un sobre raffinement rgne sur des prestations anciennes, aux antipodes
de la musique bruyante, vulgaire et outrecuidante que lon entend actuellement. Labsence
dune phonothque nationale marocaine charge du dpt lgal depuis la cration de
lindustrie du disque a priv les musicologues et le public de toute comparaison avec le pass.
Les collectionneurs privs sont souvent trs difficiles daccs et peu ports mettre leurs
archives personnelles la disposition des autres. Ceux qui acceptent de copier leur collection
le font illgalement, contre monnaie sonnante et trbuchante. Les repiquages sont souvent
artisanaux, sans respect pour la vitesse des 78 tours et les diffrents standards daiguilles.
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Au dbut du sicle, le Maroc fut quelque peu nglig par les grandes compagnies de disques
qui trouvaient au Caire, Beyrouth, Alger et Tunis un domaine de choix pour leurs
enregistrements. La situation difficile du sultanat et les troubles engendrs par les tentatives
de domination occidentale loignaient les techniciens trangers. Les premiers enregistrements
furent nanmoins effectus par les chanteurs populaires citadins Ahmad Ab al-Hjj (Belhadj
en dialecte) et Bashr ibn Mahmd (Benmahmoud en dialecte) en 1910 pour Gramophone.
A partir de loccupation franaise (1912) et jusque dans les annes 1950, le Maroc fut la
chasse garde de la socit Path qui commercialisait son propre standard de tourne-disques
et daiguilles, trs diffrent de ceux de Gramophone, de Zonophon, dOdon et de Baidaphon.
Elle ne se proccupait que du march local et ne menait pas de grandes campagnes de
promotion, comme Gramophone et Baidaphon. Les autorits franaises privilgiaient par
ailleurs ltude de lart des Berbres et, en particulier, des Chleuhs du Sud, soutenus par
al-Glw, pacha de Marrakesh. Pendant longtemps, Prosper Ricard, un fonctionnaire franais du Service des Arts Indignes, eut la haute main sur la musique marocaine et tenta de
linflchir vers loccidentalisation, conue comme un progrs scientifique, sans se soucier
des phnomnes dacculturation ou dinculturation.
De nombreux hymnodes musulmans refusrent tout contact avec les socits discographiques, tant pour des raisons religieuses que techniques (ctoiement dartistes aux moeurs
lgres, petite dure denregistrement et acoustique mauvaise). De grands artistes de la la
collaborrent malgr tout avec ces compagnies: Idrs ibn Jalln (Benjelloun en dialecte),
Abd al-Rahmn Zuwaytin (en dialecte Zwten), al-Tuhm ibn Abd al-Karm, al-Fth
Barrda (mort en 1932), Muhammad al-Tusl (en dialecte el-Tsl), Muhammad al-Brh,
Umar Fid al-Juayd, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Mansr (mort en 1940) et Muhammad
al-Sabbn.
Les autres grands artistes de lpoque taient protiformes, laise dans la la et le malhn:
Shlm al-Suwr de Mogador (en dialecte el-Swr), Azzz ibn Nn (Bennani en dialecte),
David ibn Arsh (Benarouche en dialecte), David Zayn (Zayn en dialecte), al-Muallima
Najma et son homonyme al-Shaykha Najma al-Yahdiyya, al-Muallima Esther de Ttouan
et Abd al-Rahmn al-Kharshf de Fs. Certains se spcialisaient dans le malhn: Abd
al-Qdir Battta, Abd al-Rahmn ibn al-Sharf, ibn Habb (Bel Habb en dialecte),
Muhammad al-Kmr, al-Muallima Zahr Mutayrib (Mtreb en dialecte), al-Muallima
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Burayka (Brka en dialecte) al-Sharkashiyya, Muhammad et Hamd al-Tz et al-Shaykha


Zaynab.
Les chleuhs Abbsh, Abdallh al-Nyir, al-Mukhtr ibn Sad et Yahy de Tazarwalet
contriburent faire mieux connatre leur art. Les fanfares de la Garde Noire du sultan
et du Tabor de la police marocaine de Tanger fournirent plusieurs marches militaires.
Des ensembles anonymes de hautbois et de tambours (ghayta-s et tabl-s) enregistrrent
plusieurs mlodies populaires. Des membres initis des confrries mystiques de Gnwa-s, de
swa-s et de Hamdsha-s immortalisrent quelques morceaux. Le pianiste dil al-Namn
de Casablanca et le luthiste juif Nasm Naqb de Fs fournirent leurs improvisations,
inspires par le Proche-Orient et promises un grand succs.
Narrivant pas contrler entirement linspiration des musiciens, certaines matrices de
disques taient lances aprs le dbut des prestations et sarrtaient quelquefois de manire
abrupte. Les artistes nhsitaient pas remercier les techniciens, toussoter, sinterpeller
et se congratuler, surtout en fin de disque. Des enregistrements de blagues ou de contes
populaires en dialectes arabes ou berbres conservent un grand intrt pour les linguistes.
Lessentiel des morceaux retenus taient accompagns par le violon, le d et les tambours
sur poterie (darbukka ou tarja) ou les petits tambourins cymbalettes (tr-s) ou sans
cymbalette (duff-s). La vielle rabb tait souvent absente, du fait de ses sons confidentiels
et vrombissants, difficilement transmissibles par les techniques de lpoque. La titulature
musicale des artistes tait complexe: musammi renvoyait aux hymnodes musulmans,
muallim aux musiciens profanes savants musulmans ou juifs, ustdh aux interprtes
influencs par le Proche-Orient, shaykha aux chanteuses lgres, hjja aux chanteuses
religieuses. Ryis ou ryisa concernaient les artistes berbres. Des catalogues spars taient
consacrs aux psalmodies juives ou aux musiques levantines et occidentales. Contrairement
aux enregistrements algriens et gyptiens surtout citadins et savants, les disques marocains
contenaient de la musique populaire, surtout dorigine citadine. Il ny eut pas de supervision
artistique par des musiciens savants, comme Edmond Nathan Yfl Alger ou Mansr Awad
au Caire, mme si chaque compagnie avait ses accompagnateurs et ses instrumentistes attitrs
(ibn Nn, par exemple, pour Path).
En 1928-1929, la compagnie libanaise Baidaphon organisa une grande session
denregistrements lectriques Berlin, runissant des musiciens maghrbins et levantins,
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dont les marocains Abd al-Latf Muln (luthiste), Tuhm ibn Umar (chanteur) et Abd
al-Karm al-Gharb (chanteur et percussionniste). En 1928 et 1930-1931, Gramophone
entreprit grce au comdien et chanteur algrois Muhy al-Dn Bsh Trz une campagne
denregistrements de Abd al-Salm al-Ayn, al-Hjja Aysha al-Arjniyya, al-Shaykha
Mna, Ffne, Zahr al-Fsiyya et le chleuh al-Ryis Ab Jama (Boudjema en dialecte).
Elle fut suivie entre 1932 et 1938 par une seconde entreprise de Baidaphon qui nhsita pas
ouvrir des studi Paris et privilgier les chants chleuhs des Rayyis Mild, Ab al-d
(en dialecte, Belad) et Ab Bakr Inshadn (en dialecte, Boubker Inchaden), quelquefois
enregistrs en prsence du chanteur gyptien Muhammad Abd al-Wahhb, venu en France
pour des raisons cinmatographiques. Odon avait conclu un accord avec le vielleux Umar
Fid al-Juayd et les chanteurs Muhammad al-Khasss et Shlm ibn Hym. Columbia
privilgiait al-Shaykha Ftima al-Wargha de Sal, Shlm ibn Hym, Shlm al-Suwr,
toujours en activit, les chleuhs Muhammad ibn Sad, Mubrak et al-Mahfzh al-Rahhl.
Les musiciens commencrent alors sinscrire la S.A.C.E.M, prsente aussi au Maroc: les
droits dauteur sinscrivaient dans la ralit, protgeant les artistes bien mieux que les rgles
du secret et de linitiation dautrefois. Muhy al-Dn Bsh Trz a racont dans ses Mmoires,
1919-1939 (volume I, S.N.E.D, Alger, 1968) ses efforts pour recueillir, dfendre et protger
ces musiques.
Les annes 1940 virent le triomphe du malhn et des airs berbres, du fait de la demande
du public en pleine mutation: les paysans sinstallaient petit petit dans les villes et
achetaient des disques aux paroles comprhensibles qui leur rappelaient leurs origines. Polyphon
et Polydor comprirent parfaitement lair du temps et se spcialisrent dans les musiques
populaires. De petites socits locales capitaux marocains profitrent aussi de laubaine.
Dans les annes 1960, lapparition des cassettes mit fin une industrie florissante qui ne put
se reconvertir aux disques compacts, pour des raisons financires.

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Les formes potiques et musicales


Les musiciens savants du Maghreb font remonter lorigine de leur art la musique des cours
princires de lAndalousie musulmane, fonde par le lgendaire msopotamien Ziryb (mort
vers 845 apJC) et progressivement intgre au rpertoire de leurs villes par les migrs
andalous, aprs la Reconquista. Fs et Ttouan, cette synthse fut appele la
(instrument), musique vocale avec accompagnement instrumental, par opposition
la musique sacre, uniquement vocale: le sam. Oujda, Tlemcen et Alger, la
dnomination fut nawbt gharnta, suites vocales de Grenade. Constantine, Testour et Tunis,
le terme de malf (coutumier ou traditionnel) fut prfr, pour diffrencier ce corpus des
musiques ottomanes, prsentes ds le XVIe sicle. Ce nest quau dbut du XXe sicle que les
musicologues franais Jules Rouanet, Rodolphe dErlanger et Alexis Chottin
rpandirent le vocable de musique andalouse ou arabo-andalouse, par souci dunification et de
simplification. On trouve aussi le terme de musique mauresque ou sarrasine chez
certains auteurs.
La majorit des pomes chants de ce rpertoire est constitue de muwashshaht (pomes enjolivs), composs strophiquement en arabe classique sur des rimes diffrentes et
des mtres varis, traditionnels ou pas. Crs en Andalousie au IXe sicle, ils furent trs
tt diffuss, du fait de leur souplesse prosodique, idale pour une composition musicale
mesure. Autrefois accompagns par un cor (bq), la plupart des muwashshaht interprts au
dbut du sicle nexistent cependant pas dans les recensions des potes andalous classiques.
Lhistorien tlemcnien Ab al-Abbs Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Maqqar (mort en 1631) et
le lettr libanais Philippe Qadn al-Khzin (fin du XIXe sicle) ont publi des recensions de
pomes (voir bibliographie). Les corpus marocains et algriens, gnralement runis dans une
anthologie attribue au lgendaire ttouanais Muhammad al-Hik (XVIIIe sicle), divergent
profondment des recueils tunisiens et nont que quelques rarissimes pices communes avec
le florilge prsent en 1843 dans lanthologie Safnat al-mulk wa-nafsat al-fulk (lArche
de souverainet et la prcieuse nef) par le cairote Shihb al-Dn Muhammad al-Hijz (vers
1793-1857), partir de lenseignement de lalpin Shkir efendi. Certaines oeuvres sont
modernes, composes par Ab Abdallh Muhammad ibn Qsim ibn Zkr (mort en 1708),
Muhammad al-Bism, contemporain du prcdent, Abd al-Karm ibn Zakr (mort aprs
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1766), Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib al-Alam (mort en 1722), Hamdn ibn al-Hjj (mort en
1817), Muhammad al-Sharq et Muhammad al-Harrq (1782-1855).
Dautres lettrs ont crit des ptres ou des opuscules sur la musique, rests pour la plupart
manuscrits: Abd al-Whid ibn Ahmad al-Wanshars (vers 1479-1549, Risla f al-tabi
wa-al-tub wa-al-usl, ptre sur les tempraments, les modes et les rythmes), Muhammad
ibn Al al-Wujd al-Ghammd (mort en 1624, Risla f al-tub, ptre sur les modes), Ab
Zayd Abd al-Rahmn ibn Abd al-Qdir al-Fs (1630-1685, al-Majm f ilm al-msq
wa-al-tub, Le Compendium de la science musicale et des modes), le sultan Muhammad ibn
Abdallh (1721-1790, Risla f al-msq, ptre sur la musique), Ab al-Abbs Ahmad
ibn Muhammad ibn al-Arab Ahdr (mort vers 1880, Dwn al-amdh al-nabawiyya
wa-dhikr al-naghamt wa-al-tub wa-bayn talqih bi-al-tabi al-arbaa, Recueil des
pomes la louange du Prophte et mention des mlodies, des modes et de leurs liens avec les
quatre tempraments), Ab al-Rab Sulaymn ibn Muhammad al-Hawwt al-Hasan (mort
en 1816, Kashf al-qin an wajh tathr al-tub wa-al-tib, Le Dvoilement de linfluence
des modes et des tempraments), al-Hjj Muhammad ibn al-Arab al-Dall al-Ribt (mort
en 1869, Fath al-anwr f bayn m yun al madh al-nab al-mukhtr, LIllumination en
ce qui concerne la louange du Prophte lu), Ab Ishq Ibrhm ibn Muhammad ibn Abd
al-Qdir al-Tdil (mort en 1894, Aghn al-Siq wa-maghn al-msq, Les Chants en Sk
et les mlodies musicales), Ab Abdallh Muhammad al-Ghl ibn al-Makk ibn Sulaymn
al-Andals al-Fs (mort en 1901, al-Jawhir al-hisn f nagham al-alhn, Les Pierres
prcieuses des modes mlodieux), Ab Abdallh Muhammad al-bid ibn Ahmad ibn
Sda al-Arab al-Fs (mort en 1940, Istinzl al-rahamt bi-inshd Burdat al-madh bi-alnaghamt, Les Misricordes obtenues grce la rcitation mlodieuse du pome sur le
Manteau du Prophte en 1907) et dautres traits anonymes.
Beaucoup de ces oeuvres sont des pomes didactiques en mtre rajaz (urjza-s), mentionnant
les pomes et les noms des modes et des rythmes utiliss leur poque. Le plus complet
reste le trait dal-Tdil. Aucun ne semble agit par les controverses levantines au sujet des
chelles musicales et des quarts de ton gaux ou ingaux: lart marocain nemploie pas le
mme systme modal que lgypte ou la Syrie et les lettrs du pays navaient que peu de
contacts avec le Proche-Orient, en dehors du plerinage la Mecque. Un piano fut mme
import du Maroc au Caire, lors du Congrs de musique arabe en 1932, mais il ne fut pas
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enregistr, du fait de lopposition de Bela Bartok et de Paul Hindemith, farouches tenants


de lauthenticit. En 1935, le lettr Idrs al-Idrs publia al-Muntakhabt al-msqiyya
(LAnthologie musicale), premier ouvrage contemporain essentiellement consacr la la.
Lagencement des musiques savantes maghrbines en suites vocales est conforme une
tradition ancienne, rpartissant le chant en parties libres et mesures. Plus particulirement,
le terme de nawba (tour de rle) renvoie aux musiques officielles princires: les divisions
horaires du tour du cadran taient signales tour de rle par les mlodies caractristiques des
ensembles vent de garde dans les palais. Entr dans la musique savante, ce terme a dsign
les suites vocales excutes tour de rle, des moments dtermins du jour ou de la nuit. En
Inde du Nord, il est encore employ en hindoustani sous la forme des nawbat khn (fanfare
des gouvernants), mais Damas, il renvoie exclusivement aux suites vocales sacres (nawbt)
de la Grande-Mosque des Omeyyades. En franais, sous linfluence dialectale maghrbine,
il est devenu la nouba, dabord clique militaire, puis synonyme de fte et de liesse.
De nombreuses particularits distinguent ces musiques modales formulaires: timbres de
voix, vocabulaire technique, ordonnancement de suites et instruments spcifiques: luth
manche court, caisse troite et cinq double-cordes (d ushr), luth manche court,
caisse troite et quatre double-cordes accord embrass (d ramal, appel aussi d
inqilb), vielle barque petit archet (rabb), violon alto occidental (kamanja wtia) et violon
occidental (kamanja al-husayn). Dnaturant le timbre traditionnel marocain, dautres
instruments, populaires ou trangers, leur furent adjoints lpoque contemporaine: piano,
percussions, trompettes, fltes et accordons.
De plus, cet art vocal, que lon retrouve dans la plupart des musiques sacres musulmanes ou
juives du Maghreb, est fondamentalement choral: un soliste (gnralement appel musammi,
par rapport au sam) mne ainsi loctave aigu le choeur des instrumentistes lunisson.
Au cours des soli, il retient lexpression de son motion, dans le contexte dune musique de
cour pure des passions. Un seul mode est habituellement employ au cours dune suite,
avec des transpositions et quelques modulations. Les chanteurs profanes sont appels l-s
(par rapport la la).
Les chelles musicales sont, quant elles, constitues par des gammes gnralement diatoniques, proches de celles de lOccident mdival, ce qui tmoigne de leur anciennet et du peu
dinfluence proche-orientale avant le dbut du XXe sicle. Les modes appels tab (caractre,
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temprament, moule ou forme) sont en nombre limit, avec dexceptionnelles crations,


do une structure rptitive des chants qui privilgie une rythmique allant crescendo, plutt
que des modulations. Les thoriciens maghrbins ont toujours tent de les relier aux quatre
tempraments de lAntiquit grecque. Essentiellement syllabique, le chant contrle
rigoureusement les arabesques mlismatiques. Les rythmes sont peu nombreux et sacclrent
gnralement en fin de mouvement: le Bast (simple, 6/4 et 3/4 en deux versions), Qim
wa-nusf (une frappe et demie, 8/4 et 4/4 en deux versions), Batih (tendue ou valle, 8/4 et
8/8 ou 3/4, 6/8 et 2/4), Darj (chelle ou escalier, 4/4), Quddm (droit devant, 3/4, 3/8 et 6/8).
La dtermination exacte de ces pulsations reste controverse et dpendante des pratiques des
diverses coles marocaines.
Onze modes sont employs pour les nawba-s: al-Ushshq (les Amoureux), Irq al-Ajam
(lIrak des persans), al-Hijz al-Mashriq (Msharq en dialecte, le Hijz du Levant), al-Istihll
(le Prlude ou le Commencement), al-Rst (Rasd en dialecte, Droit), al-Hijz al-Kabr (le
Grand Hijz, rgion dArabie), al-Isbahn (ville de Perse), Gharbat al-Husayn (ltrange
mlodie dal-Husayn), al-Mya (la Mlodie, en persan), Rst al-Dhl (le Mode droit de la
Suite) et Ramal al-Mya (le Mtre Ramal, sabl, de la mlodie). Vingt-six autres sont
incluses dans les nawba-s, dont al-Mazmm, al-Zaydn, Mujannab al-Dhl, Inqilb al-Ramal,
al-Husayn, Hamdn, al-Ziwarkand, Irq al-Arab, al-Hisr, al-Gharba al-Muharrara, al-Ska
et al-Mashriq al-Saghr ou employs dans le malhn, comme le Shl ou des modes dorigine
tlemcnienne.
Des formules mlodiques caractristiques fixes restreignent le rle de lentropie naturelle: la
perte de la mlodie et du patrimoine potique, pices matresses denjeux artistiques, mais
aussi idologiques. Cette conception normative de la tradition modale parvint sauvegarder
une partie du rpertoire savant arabe dans des rgions autrefois dominante berbre, de
culture musicale diffrente et en proie dincessantes entreprises de conqute occidentale
(espagnole, portugaise, britannique et franaise). Confront la rvolution discographique,
la diffusion du rpertoire syro-gyptien et des musiques populaires, lart savant maghrbin
devait profondment voluer partir des annes 1930.
Les suites vocales de Fs, de Mekns, de Ttouan et dOujda dbutent gnralement par
une bughya vocale (intention ou prlude) et une mishliya instrumentale (mlodie enleve)
rsumant les principaux thmes de la nawba, o les instrumentistes exposent sur un rythme
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libre les caractristiques du mode quils ont lintention de jouer. Le chanteur peut complter
vocalement linterprtation par des vocalises fixant dfinitivement le choix modal.
La tawshiya mesure suggre alors des thmes mlodiques, acclrs selon un crescendo
courant. Les accents cristallins du tr, matre doeuvre du cycle rythmique, sont
privilgis, alors que le rabb marque de ses coups darchet la ligne mlodique de base. De brefs
silences entre les mouvements brisent la structure itrative pour relancer lintrt et accrotre
la dpendance de loreille envers la pulsation rythmique.
Les musiciens traitent les strophes selon une technique chorale ancienne appele sanat
shughl (oeuvre travaille), vritable ciselure vocale. Le choeur na le temps de rciter que
quelques vers, mais chacun est disloqu: presque chaque mot est en effet rpt, entrecoup,
prcd ou suivi de vocalises sans signification. Elles servent terminer la phrase mlodique
laisse en suspens par les paroles (y la lan) et peuvent jouer le rle dun refrain (h n n
ou tr tr et tr tan). Les voyelles de flexion de larabe classique sont mme prolonges
en cho. Cette pratique, qui peut rappeler les alfzh de lcole de Bagdad, la tarna de
lInde du Nord, les trtismes byzantins, les insertions de syllabes du jargon javanais ou le
machicotage grgorien de lancienne matrise de Notre-Dame de Paris, nefface cependant
pas le texte original qui rapparat par bribes. Conue pour suivre le cycle rythmique, elle vise
aussi rendre la musicalit mme des phonmes du langage. Les reprises instrumentales et les
transpositions du mode sur des degrs diffrents remplacent traditionnellement les
modulations. Les petits carts mlodiques entre les instruments sont caractristiques de
lhtrophonie occasionnelle de ces ensembles.
La sana peut tre aussi rcite, sans ces enjolivements, sur des pomes classiques
qasda-s ou des muwashshah-s. Le nombre de vers et de strophes est variable. Sur un
ensemble de cinq vers, les premier (dukhl, entre), deuxime (wasat ou karsh, milieu ou
ventre) et troisime (tbi al-karsh, prolongement du ventre) sont chants de la mme faon.
Le quatrime (taghtiya ou ghit, enveloppe ou couverture) est rcit dune autre manire.
Le cinquime vers (khurj, sortie) reprend la formule mlodique des trois premiers. Des
dcoupages mtriques appels mzn-s (balance ou mesure) articulent chaque mouvement
lintrieur des rythmes de la nawba: muwassa (largi), qantara (pont ou liaison) et insirf
(sortie ou dpart).
Le mawwl tait au IXe sicle un chant populaire msopotamien en dialecte, compos par des
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populations serves, depuis peu arabises (mawlin). Entr progressivement dans la musique
savante proche-orientale, il constitua le tremplin dune improvisation vocale ornemente, prcde par des vocalises sur linvocation y layl, y ayn ( nuit, source, en dialectal y
ll, y n). Sans doute introduit tardivement au Maroc, le mawwl fut insr dans les suites
vocales savantes et les chants populaires citadins pour exprimer les tourments de la passion,
diffrant de son homologue proche-oriental par la langue et la sobrit du dveloppement
modal. Lalto prolonge donc les mlismes de la voix et esquisse des semi-improvisations,
alors que le d grne gnralement un bourdon discontinu. Une taghtiya ou ghit est
ensuite enchane, afin de retrouver la cadence des suites vocales et dviter toute variation de
nature loigner du mode. Gnralement constitu dun muwashshah ou dun zajal, le texte
dune taghtiya peut tre employ dans plusieurs nawba-s. Le mawwl misr est dinspiration
modale gyptienne, employant souvent des pomes dorigine levantine.
De thme mystique ou difiant, linshd baytayn (ou bitayn en dialecte) est gnralement
interprt sur un distique classique (baytn: deux vers en classique). Soulignant sur un
rythme libre les caractristiques dun mode, linshd permet deffectuer un prlude ou une
transition dans la nawba. Sans doute dorigine sacre et didactique, cette forme explore les
chelles modales plus rapidement que le mawwl, selon des formules mlodiques fixes et
des vocalises traditionnelles (ha na n), sans employer linvocation y layl, y ayn. Les
instrumentistes se distinguent par leur discrtion, doublant la voix. La taghtiya conclut de
manire normative chaque morceau.

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Les grands interprtes


Dorigine juive andalouse, David ibn Arsh (Benarsh en dialecte, 1885-1951) fut lun
des plus grands chantres religieux (hazzn-s) et chanteur profane de Mekns. Il vcut
longtemps Oujda et Tlemcen et introduisit dans le malhn beaucoup de mlodies algriennes
modernes. Il tait clbre pour son jeu ingal au d et fut souvent invit la Cour du Sultan
pour animer des veilles. Il interprte ici des chants du malhn de Mekns, trs nettement
influencs par les coles dOujda et de Tlemcen. David Zayn (Zayn en dialecte, 18801955) de Mekns reut une ducation juive traditionnelle, avant de sinstaller Fs et de se
consacrer au d et au chant savant profane. Il voyagea longuement au Proche-Orient, do il
ramena des chants gyptiens et syriens, dont Zran l-mahbb. Sa prestation conjugue avec
bonheur la la, le malhn et les influences levantines. Vieilli et malade, il migra en Isral,
auprs de ses enfants, et mourut Jrusalem.
De mme que son frre Ahmad, Abd al-Rahmn Zuwaytin (1885-1945) de Fs fut lun des
plus grands hymnodes musulmans de sa gnration. Il tait clbre pour son grand art savant,
mais il nexiste de lui que peu denregistrements, spcialement commands par le sultan du
Maroc, soucieux dimmortaliser son art. Secret et nigmatique, il naimait pas diffuser les
arcanes de son art et chantait des vers sapientaux gnralement attribus Ab al-Athiya
(vers 748-825) et Ibn al-Frid (1181-1235), surtout dans les mosques et les zwiya-s (centres
de confrries mystiques), interdites aux non-musulmans, par dcision du marchal Lyautey.
Idrs ibn Jalln de Fs (Benjelloun en dialecte, 1881-1946) fut plus ouvert aux amateurs et
aux mlomanes. Luthiste, il eut de nombreux disciples, dont Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn
Ahmad al-Brd al-Slw (mort en 1950) et Azzz ibn Nn, auprs desquels il dfendit
les traditions purement arabo-andalouses. Sa matrise des chants savants, sacrs ou profanes,
navait dgale que sa capacit entonner des chansons rotiques ou des hymnes bachiques,
prsents comme mystiques et maintenant censurs ou oublis. Il donne un florilge de son
talent dans le cadre de la la, avec son inimitable accent fs.
Le luthiste et chanteur Azzz ibn Nn de Fs (Bennani en dialecte, 1890-1960) fut lun des
artistes vedettes de la compagnie Path durant les annes 1920. Il accompagna de manire
raffine beaucoup dartistes savants et populaires et enregistra mme des blagues lestes en
dialecte de Fs (ustuwna mudhika, disque comique). La tawshiya dIbls (Ouverture du
- 12 -

Diable), quil interprte ici, a t oublie par la plupart des musiciens contemporains: elle
repose sur des thmes instrumentaux accompagns par un refrain sans signification (h
n n), comparable aux grognements du Dmon. Sa matrise de la la, du malhn et des
mlodies gyptiennes navait dgale que sa bonne humeur lgendaire. Le violoniste et
vielleux Muhammad al-Brh de Fs (1850-1945) fut lun des plus artistes savants
de son poque, clbre pour sa matrise du violon alto et du rabb. Sa version des
ouvertures et intermdes instrumentaux de la nawba fut retenue par ses nombreux disciples et
amplement diffuse de nos jours dans les coles et les conservatoires de musique. De nombreux
morceaux du rpertoire de la la ont t sauvs de loubli grce lui et ses lves.
Bint Haniyya (vers 1890-1939) tait lune des plus grandes shaykht (chikht en dialecte) de
Casablanca. Prostitue dorigine extrmement pauvre, elle chanta et dansa pour se nourrir.
Ses chants populaires (dhikr et ayta) furent trs clbres. Ils taient souvent accompagns
par des danses de femmes ou de travestis. Bint Haniyya fut assassine par son fougueux
amant, un lgionnaire franais, dserteur et alcoolique. Abd al-Qdir Battta de Casablanca
(mort en 1950) fut lun des plus grands interprtes du malhn, qui il contribua donner ses
lettres de noblesse. Compositeur de mlodies, mais aussi pote, il se refusa toute influence
levantine ou occidentale, pour privilgier absolument lauthenticit de la tradition populaire.
Le sultan Muhammad ibn Ysuf (1909-1927-1961) linvita souvent pour rjouir ses invits,
lors des soires du mois de Ramadan. Il mourut dune crise cardiaque foudroyante, au retour
dun plerinage la Mecque.
En 1932, les interprtations du Congrs du Caire furent le chant du cygne des ensembles
traditionnels, tents par la suite dintroduire le piano et de former des orchestres plthoriques.
Le sultan Muhammad ibn Ysuf dlgua dans la valle du Nil un ensemble htrogne de
virtuoses, tous chefs densemble, mais appartenant lcole de Fs ou influencs par elle.
La plupart dentre eux chantaient, jouaient de plusieurs instruments et les fabriquaient.
Muhammad ibn Qaddr ibn Ghabrt (mort en 1954), ministre plnipotentiaire et recteur
de la mosque de Paris, prsida la dlgation en tant que violoniste et luthiste. Algrien de
Nedroma, migr au Maroc pour viter la conscription franaise, il continua la tradition des
changes entre lcole de Tlemcen et celle de Fs. Membre de la confrrie mystique des
Qdiriyya Alamiyya, Muhammad al-Shuwayka (vers 1890-1940) tait originaire de Mekns.
Il fut appel la cour par le sultan Ysuf en 1926, du fait de sa matrise des chants sacrs et
- 13 -

profanes. lve de Sad al-Fs, de Mansr al-Fs, de Muhammad al-Swir et de Abd alSalm al-Brh (mort en 1894), le vielleux Umar Fid al-Juayd ou al-Jaid (1873-1952)
fut musicien de la cour ds le rgne du sultan Abd al-Azz IV (1894-1908). Il rorganisa la
musique militaire et contribua la prservation de nombreuses pices du rpertoire de Fs, sa
ville natale. Il tait membre de la confrrie du Sayyid Muhammad al-Attr.
Dautres lves des mmes matres furent slectionns: Muhammad al-Dd (luthiste),
Uthmn al-Tz (luthiste), le violoniste lettr Muhammad al-Mutayr (ou el-Matr en
dialecte, 1876-1946) et le percussionniste Abd al-Salm ibn Ysuf (1879-1950), originaire
de Rabat et vers dans la connaissance de la musique citadine populaire malhn. Spcialiste
de la la, mais aussi des nawbt gharnta, Muhammad al-Dukkl, dit Habb Imbrk (ou
Mbrk en dialecte, 1893-1963), apprit durant le Congrs la technique de fabrication des luths
gyptiens quil contribua rpandre au Maroc, cause de ltendue de leur registre et de la
souplesse de leur jeu. Nanmoins soucieux de conserver le patrimoine, il rdigea en 1935 un
Rsum de lanthologie dal-Hik, amplement utilis ensuite par la nouvelle cole savante
de Rabat. Nous avons dj publi des extraits de cette contribution marocaine au Congrs
du Caire (voir discographie). En 1939, le premier congrs de musique marocaine eut lieu
Rabat, pour tudier et uniformiser les techniques et les pratiques, sans succs face la
diversit artistique et lesprit dautonomie des musiciens.
Bernard Moussali

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Music from far away and from log ago


Maroc I
Classical and popular songs

Morocco is located at the western extremity of north Africa and has a complex musical
history influenced by the chamites, semitics, chamito-semitics and indo-Europeans. Morocco
has a rich musical heritage which has yet to be completely explored, making it a favourite
spot for researchers and music lovers.
Today, popular urban songs (al-malhn) and western imitations such as ra, rock or pop
are the most popular and widely diffused types of music. Classical music is sustained by the
state, the conservatories, state radio and television. However, there is a plethora of classical
ensembles which have been strongly influenced by the west and are very bland. We would like
to give Moroccans this opportunity to rediscover the acoustic recordings, made for the most
part between 1920 and 1927, and which were scrapped with the advent of electric recording
techniques in the maghreb between 1928 and 1930. A number of musicians heard in this CD
are now just names or legends. This is the chance for music lovers to finally hear those who
contributed to the rise in popularity of Moroccan music.
Here, a new musical universe opens to us, far from what is considered today as the
traditional la (classical) or malhn (popular). These old recordings are characterised
by a sober refinement, in complete opposition with the noisy, vulgar music that can be
heard today. Because Morocco never had a national record library in charge of the legal
registration of recordings, musicologists and the public have no substance for comparison
with the past. Private collectors are often difficult to approach and are loathe to put their
personal archives in the hands of others. Those who accept to copy their collection do so
illegally, and do not respect the 78 speed and needle standards.
At the beginning of the century, Morocco was somewhat neglected by the major record houses which found what they were looking for in Cairo, Beyrouth, Algiers and Tunis. Foreign
technicians kept their distance due to the shaky political situation spurred by the attempts
- 15 -

at western domination over the country. Nevertheless, the first recordings were made by
the popular urban singers Ahmad Ab al-Hjj (Belhadj in dialect) and Bashr ibn Mahmd
(Benmahmoud in dialect in 1910) for Gramophone. From the French occupation in 1912
and until the 1950s, Morocco was the exclusive territory of Path which sold its own
record players and needles which were very different from those of Gramophone, Zonophon,
Odon and Baidaphon. Path was not interested in the local market and did not undertake
any major marketing compaigns like Gramophone and Baidaphon. The French government
favoured the study of Berber art, and in particular that of the Chleuhs of the south, who
were backed by al-Glw, pacha of Marrakesh. For a long time, Prosper Ricard, a French
civil servant working for the Indigeneous Art Service, was responsible for Moroccan music.
He favoured westernising this music, considering that this would be scientific progress,
irrelevant of any phenomena of acculturation or inculturation.
A number of Muslim hymnodies refused all contact with record companies, for both
religious and technical reasons (contact with musicians having loose morals, short duration of
recordings and poor acoustics). However, some of the major classical artists (la)
collaborated with these recording companies: Idrs ib Jalln (Benjelloun in dialect), Abd
al-Rahmn Zuwaytin Zwten in dialect), al-Tuhm ibn Abd al-Karm, al Fth Barrda
(deceased in 1932), Muhammad al-Tusl (Tsl in dialect), Muhammad al-Brh, Umar
Fid al) Juayd, Muhammad Ibn Ahmad ibn Mansr (deceased 1940) and Muhammad
al-Sabbn.
The other great artists of the time were comfortable in both the la and malhn: Shlm
al-Suwr of Mogador (Swr), Azzz ibn Nn (Bennani in dialect), David ibn Arsh
(Benarouche in dialect), David Zayn (Zayn in dialect), al-Muallima Najma and his
homonym al-Shaykha najma al-Yahdiyya, al-Muallima Esther of Tetouan and Abd
al-Rahmn al-Kharshf of Fez. Some specialised in the malhn: Abd al-Qdir Battta,
Abd al-Rahmn ibn al-Sharf, ibn Habb (Bel Habb in dialect), Muhammad al-Kmr,
al-Muallima Zahr Mutayrib (Mtreb in dialect), al-Muallima Burayka (Brka in dialect)
al-Sharkashiyya, Muhammad and Hamd al-Tz and al-Shaykha Zaynab.
- 16 -

The chleuhs Abbsh, Abdallh al-Nyir, al-Mukhtr ibn Sad and Yahy of Tazarwalet
contributed to make their music better known. The band of the Black Guard of the sultan and
the Tabor of the Moroccan polic in Tangiers recorded a number of military marches. There
are recordings of unknown groups playing popular songs on oboes and drums (ghayta and
tabl). Members of the religious brotherhoods such as the Gnwa; ISwa and the Hamdsha
made a few recordings. The pianist Adil al-Namn of Casablanca and the Jewish lute
player Nasm Naqb recorded improvisations, inspired by the Near East and destined to be
a great success.
As it was difficult to entirely control the moments of inspiration of the musicians, the
recording of certain matrices started after the musicians had begun playing and sometimes cut off suddenly. The artists would thank the technicians, cough, talk to each other,
congratulate each other, especially at the end of a record. There are recordings of jokes
or popular tales in Arab and Berber dialect which are of precious interest to linguists.
Most of the pieces in this CD are accompanied by the violin, the ud, and clay drums
(darbukka or tarjja) and small tambourines with cymbals (tr) or without cymbals (duff).
The rebab is often missing because its muted sound and drone were not easily picked up by the
technology of the time.The system of titles given to the music is complex: musammi designated
Muslim hymnodies , muallim to Muslim or Jewish profane classical musicians, ustdh those
influenced by the Near East, shaykha the light women singers, jjja the religious women
singers. Ryis or ryisa concerned Berber artists. Separate catalogues were devoted to
Jewish psalms or eastern and western musics. Contrary to recordings made in Algeria and
Egypt which were mostly urban classical music, the Moroccan records were popular music,
mostly from the cities. There was no artistic supervision by classical musicians, such as
Edmond Nathan Yfl in Algiers or Mansir Awad in Cairo, even if each company had its
own backup musicians and instrumentalists (such as ibn Nn for Path).
In 1928-29, the Lebanese company, Baidaphon organised a big electric recording session
in Berlin, bringing together musicians from the Maghreb and from the East. Among the
Moroccans were Abd al-Laff Muln (lute player), Tuhm ibn Umar (singer) and Abd
al Karm al-Gharb (singer and percussionist). In 1928 and 1930-1931, Gramophone did a
series of recordings thanks to the Algiers actor and singer Muhy al-Dn Bsh Trz, with
- 17 -

Abd al-Salm al-Ayn, al-Hjja Aysha al-Arjniyya, al-Shaykha Mna, Ffne, Zahr
al-Fsiyya and the chleuh al)-Ryis Ab Jama (Boudjema in dialect). This was followed
between 1932 and 1938 by a second enterprise by Baidaphon which did not hesitate to open
studios in Paris and to privilege the chleuh songs of Rayyis Mild, Ab al-Id (Belad in
dialect) and Ab Bakr Inshadn (Boubker Inchaden in dialect), sometimes recorded in the
presence of the Egyptian singer Muhammad Abd al-Wahhb, who was in France to make a
movie. Odon signed an agreement with the spike viola player Umar Fid al-Juayd and
the singers Muhammad al-Khasss and Shlm ibn Hym. Columbia favoured al-Shaykha
Ftima al-Wargha of Sal, Shlm ibn Hym, Shlm al-Suwr, who is still around, the
chleuh Muhammad ibn Sad Mubrak and al Mahfzy al-Rahhl. The musicians began
registering with the S.A.C.E.M., the French association of musical writers and composers,
which had a branch in Morocco: copyrights were a sign of the times and the artists were
better protected than the rule of secret and initiation rites of the past. In his memoirs, Muhy
al-Dn Bsh Trz 1919-1939 (Volume I, S.N.E.D., Algiers, 1968) tells of his efforts to collect,
defend and protect this music.
The 1940s saw the triumph of the malhn and Berber music with the demand from a public
who was in the midst of transformation: the peasants were steadily moving into the cities
and bought records with words they could understand and reminded them of their homes.
Polyphon and Polydor understood this phenomenon and specialised in popular music. The
small Moroccan recording houses also benefited from this hcange. In the 1960s, the new
technique of magnetic cassettes quashed a flourishing industry which was unable to upgrade
its technology because of the cost.

- 18 -

The poetic and musical forms


Classical musicians of the maghreb say that their music originated in the princely courts of
Muslim Andalusia. This music was founded by the legendary Ziryb of Mesopotamia (died
around 845 AD) and was gradually integrated into the musical repertory of the maghreb
by emmigrants from Andalusia after the Reconquista. In Fez and Tetouan, this new music
was called la (instrument), consisting of vocals accompanied by musical instruments, in
contrast with sacred music which was exclusively vocal: the sam. In Oujda, Tlemcen and
Algiers, this music was called nawbt gharnta, vocal suites of Granada. In Constantine,
Testour and Tunis, it was called malf (traditional) to differentiate from Ottoman music
which existed in those places as early as the sixteenth century. It was not until the twentieth
century that the French musicologists, Jules Rouanet, Rodolphe dErlanger and Alexis
Chottin coined the term of Andalusian or Arab-Andalusian, in an effort to unify and simplify.
Some authors also use the term Moorish or Sarrazin music.
Most of the poems that are sung in this repertory are muwashshaht (ornamented), a strophic
poetry composed in classical Arabic but not in classical meters and using different rhyme
schemes. This style was developed in Moorish Spain in the ninth century and rapidly spread
to because of its flexibility which made it ideal for measured musical composition. Most of
the muwashshaht that were played at the beginning of the century are not included in the
anthologies of classical poets of Moorish Spain. Ab al-Abbs Ahmad ibn Muhammad
al-Maqqar (deceased 1631), historian from Tlemcen, and Philippe Qadn al-Khzin, the
Lebanese scholar both published anthologies of poems (see bibliography). The Moroccan and
Algerian corpus are generally found in an anthology attributed to the legendary Muhammad
al-Hik (eighteenth century), which diverge with the Tunisian anthologies and have only
a few rare pieces in common with the anthology presented in 1843 by the Egyptian Shihb
al-Dn Muhammad al-Jijz (c. 1793-1857) in his Safnat al-mulk wa-nafpisat al-fulk (The
Arch of Souverenity and the precious knave), based on the teachings of Shkir efendi of Alep.
Some of the pieces in this recrding are modern compositions by Ab Abdallh Muhammad
ibn Qsim ibn Zkr (deceased 1708), Muhammad al-Bism, Abd al-Karm ibn Zakr
(died after 1766), Muhammad ibn al-Tayyib al-Alam (died 1722), Hamdn ibn al-Hajj (died
- 19 -

1817), Muhammad al-Sharq and Muhammad al-Harrq (1782-1855).


Other scholars wrote epistles or opuscules on music, most of which remained at the manuscript stage: Abd al-Whid ibn Ahmad al-Wansharsi (c. 1479-1549, Risla f al-tabi
wa-al-tub wa-al-usl, Epistle on temperments, modes and rhythms), Muhammad ibn Al
al-Wujd al-Ghammd (deceased 1624, Risla f al-tub, Epistle on Modes), Ab Zayd Abd
al-Rahmn ibn Abd al-Qdir al-Fs (1630-1685, al Majm f ilm al-msq wa-al-tub,
Compendium of musical sicence and modes), the sultan Muhammad ibn Abdallh (17211790, Risla f al-msq, Epistle on music), Ab al-Abbs Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn
al-Arab Ahdr (deceased c. 1880, Dwn al-amdh al-nabawiyya wa-dhikr al-naghamt
wa-al-tub wa-bayn talqih bi-al-tabi al-arbaa, Poems praising the Prophet and
mention of the melodies, modes and their link with the four temperments), Ab al-Rab
Sulaymn ibn Muhammad al-Hawwt al-Hasan (deceased 1816, Kashf al-qin an wajh
tathr al-tub wa-am-tib, al-Hjj Muhammad ibn al-Arab al-Dall al-Ribt (deceased
1869, Fath al)anwr f bayn m yun al madh al nab al-mukhtr), Ab Ishq Ibrhim
ibn Muhammad ibn Abd al-Qdir al-Tdil (deceased in 1894, Aghn al-Siq wa-maghn
al-msq,), Ab Abdallh Muhammad al-Ghl ibn al-Makk ibn Sulaymn al-Andals
al-Fs (deceased in 1901, al Jawhir al-hisn f nagham al-alhn), Ab Abdallh Muhammad
al-Ghl ibn al-Makk ibn Sulaymn al-Andals al-Fs (deceased 1901, al Jawhir al-hisn
f nagham al-alhn), Ab Abdallh Muhammad al-Abid ibn Ahmad ibn Sda al-Arab
al-Fs (deceased 1940, Istinzl al-rahamt bi-inshd Burdat al-madh bi-al-naghamt), and
other anonymous works.
Many of these works are didactic poems in rajaz meter (urjza), which mention the poems
and names of modes and rhythms used at the time. The most complete remains the al-Tdil
treaty. None seem to be bothered by the controversy in the East concerning musical scales
and whether quarter tones should be equal or not: Moroccan music does not use the same
modal system as in Egypt or Syria and the scholars of Morocco had little contact with the
Near East other than the pilgrimage to Mecca. A piano was even imported from Morocco to
Cairo for the Arabic Music Congress of 1932. However, the instrument was not recorded as
Bela Bartok and Paul Hindmith were fierce defenders of authenticity and refused to let the
- 20 -

piano be played. In 1935, Idrs al-Idrs published al-Muntakhabt al-msqiyya (Musical


Anthology), the first contemporary work devoted mainly to the la.
Classical music of the maghreb follows an ancient tradition of vocal suites, alternately
composed or improvised. More precisely, the term nawba (turn) relating to the performance of certain pieces at certain hours. In classical music, this term designates vocal suites
performed in turn, at specific times of day or night. In northern India, the hindoustani still
perform this way in the nawbat khn (Governors band), but in Damascus it designates the
sacred vocal suites (nawbt) of the Grand Mosque of the Ommiades. In French, the term
became nouba, first designating a military clique, then became synonymous to party.
The modal styles of music are distinguished by a number of particularities: tone of voice,
technical vocabulary, specific order of suites and intruments: short-necked lute with a
narrow body and five sets of double strings (d ushr), short-necked lute with a narrow
body and four sets of double strings tuned in enclosing chords (d ramal, also called d
inqilb), the short-bowed rebab, western alto violin (kamanja wtia) and western vioin
(kamanja al-husayn). Other instruments, popular or foreign, were introduced more recently
and changed the traditional sound of Moroccan music: piano, percussion instruments,
trumpets, flutes and accordeons.
In addition, this vocal art, which is found in most Muslim and Jewish sacred music
throughout the maghreb is fundamentally performed as a choral number: a soloist
(generally called musammi) leads the chorus one octave above the instruments. During
solos, he retains his emotions, expressing a courtly music free of passion. Just one mode is
used in a suite, with transpositions and some modulation. Profane singers are called l to
differentiate them from the la.
Musical scales are generally diatonic, close to those played in the west in the middle ages.
This reflects their long existence and the little influence of the near east before the beginning
of the twentieth century. The modes called tab (character, temperment, mold or form) are
limited in number, with exceptional creations. The refrains are repeated and the accent is put
on rhythm which accelerates through the piece, rather than on modulations. The theorists of
the maghreb have always attempted to link these to the four temperments of Ancient Greece.
- 21 -

The song is mostly syllabic and rigorously controls the melismatic arabesques. There are few
rhythms and these generally speed up at the end of a movement: the Bast (simple, 6/4 and 3/4
in two versions), Qim wa-nusf (one and a half beats, 8/4 and 4/4 in two versions), Batih
(wide or valley, 8/4 and 8/8 or 3/4, 6/8 and 2/4), Darj (scale or stair, 4/4), Quddm (straight
ahead, 3/4, 3/8 and 6/8). The exact determination of these beats remains a controversy and
depends on the practice of the various schools in Morocco.
There are eleven modes used for the nawba: al-Ushshq (the Lovers), Irq al-Ajam (Irak
of the Persians), al-Hijz al-Mashriq (Msharq in dialect, the Hijz of the East), al-Istihll
(The Prelude or Beginning), al-Rst (Rasd in dialect, Straight), al-Hijz al-Kabr (The Great
Hijz, region of Arabia), al-Isbahn (city in Persia), Gharbat al-Husayn (The strange
melody of al-Husayn), al-Mya (the Melody, in Persian), Rst al-Dhl (the straight mode of
the suite) and Ramal al-Mya (the Ramal Meter, sandy, of the melody). There are twenty
six others that are used in the nawba, of which al-Mazmm, al-Zaydn, Mujannab al-Dhl,
Inqilb al-Ramal, al Husayn, Hamdn, al-Ziwarkand, Irq al-Arab, al-Hisr, al-Gharba
al-Muharrara, al Ska and al-Mashriq al-Saghr or used in the malhn, like the Shl or
modes from Tlemcen.
Melodies are formulated following fixed characteristics which limit the role of natural
entropy: the loss of melody and the poetic heritage, masterpieces having both artistic and
ideological importance. This normative approach to the modal tradition preserved part of the
Arab clasical repertory in regions that were previously under Berber domination and had a
specific musical culture that was constantly prey to western efforts to control and conquer
(Spanish, Portugese, British and French). Classical music of the maghreb underwent deep
transformation in the 1930s with the age of modern recording techniques, as well as with
the diffusion of the syrian-egyptian repertory and popular music.
The vocal suites of Fez, Meknes, Tetouan and Oujda started in general with a vocal prelude
(bughya) and an instrumental mishlya (melody) exposing the main themes of the nawba.
The musicians reveal the tone of the melodic mode they are going to perform. The singer can
accent this with vocalisation that definitively sets the mode.
- 22 -

The measured orchestral overture (tawshiya) suggests the melodic themes with the rhythm
accelerating. The tr accents the rhythm and the rebab marks the basic melody with the
strokes of the bow. There are brief moments of silence between movements which break the
iterative structure to renew interest and to draw the ear towards the ryhthmic pulse.
The chorus uses an ancient technique called sanat shughl, a sort of vocalisation. The chorus
only recites a few verses, but each is broken up: almost every word is repeated, interspersed
with nonsense syllables, vocalises at the end or beginning of the word. These serve to end a
stanza which was left suspended by the words (y la lan) and can act as a refrain (h n n or
tr tr and tri tan). The inflexion vowels of classical Arabic are even prolonged in an echo.
This practice is similar to the alfzh of the school of Baghdad, the trna of northern India,
the Byzantine teretisms, the insertion of syllables in javanese or Gregorian machicolation
at Notre Dame de Paris. Nevertheless, the original text is not erased and reappears in pieces.
This practice is designed to follow the rhythmic cycle and also aims at giving the phonems of
the language their own musicality. The instrumental refrains and transpositions of the mode
traditionally replace modulations. The slight differences in melody played by the instruments
are characteristic of the occasional heterophony of these ensembles.
The sana can also be recited, without the embellishments, in classical poems of qasda and
muwashshah. The number of verses and stanzas vary. In a five verse poem, the first (dukhul,
introduction), second (wasat or karsh, development) and third (tbi al-karsh) are sung in
the same manner. The fourth (taghtiya or ghit, cover) is recited in a different manner.
The fifth verse (khurj, exit) is a closing which resumes the melody of the first three verses.
Each movement is articulated by rhythmic modes called mzn. The rhythms of the nawa are
muwassa (development), qantara (bridge or liason) and insirf (exit).
The mawwl were popular songs of ninth century Mesopotamia, sung in dialect, compsed by
serf populations which had been only recently under Arab influence (mawlin). The mawwl
was gradually integrated by classical music of the near east and became a spring board for
ornamented vocal improvisation, preceded by vocalisation on the invocation y layl, y
ayn (Oh night, oh source). The mawwl appeared in Morocco later on. It was introduced
in clasical vocal suites and popular urban songs to express the torments of passion, differing
- 23 -

from the use in the near east by its language and sobriety of the modal development. The alto
prolongs the melisma of the voice and makes a semi-improvisaiton, while the oud generally
plays a discontinous hum. Then comes a taghtiya or ghit which returns to the beat of the
vocal suites thus avoiding any alteration which might take the piece away from the mode.
The taghtiya is generally made up of a muwashshah or a zajal, and can be used in several
nawa. The mawwl misr comes from Egyptian inspiration and often uses poems which find
their origin in the east.
The inshd baytayn is devoted to themes of religion or noble morals and is generally
interpreted in a setting of a couplet of classical Arabic poetry (baytn: couplet). The inshd
is non-measured and acts as a prelude or a transition in the nawba. This form explores the
modal scale more rapidly than the mawwl, following set melody schemes and traditional
vocalises (ha na n) without using the invocation y layl, y ayn. The instrumentalists
are extremely discreet, dubbing the voice. The taghtiya concludes each piece according to
a set formulation.

- 24 -

The major artists

David ibn Arsh (Benarsh in dialect, 1885-1951), a Jew from Andalusia, was one of the
greatest religious cantillators (hazzn) and profane singers of Meknes. He lived for a long
time in Oujda and Tlemcen and introduced a number of modern Algerian melodies into the
malhn. He was famous for his marvellous ud playing and was often invited to play at the
Sultans court. In this recording he performs the malhn songs of Meknes, and which are
clearly influenced by the schools of Oujda and Telmcen. David Zayn (Zayn in dialect,
1880-1955) of Meknes received a traditional Jewish upbringing before moving to Fez where
he devoted himself to the ud and profane classical song. He travelled extensively throughout
the Near East, bringing back pieces from Egypt and Syria, of which Zran l-mahbb. His
performance combines the la and malhn with near eastern influences. In his old age, he
moved to Isral to be near his children and he died in Jerusalem.
Like his brother Ahmad, Abd al-Rahmn Zuwaytin (1885-1945) of Fez was one of the
greatest Muslim hymnodies of his generation. He was famous for his great performance of
classical music. However, there are few recordings by him, only those ordered by the Sultan
of Morocco who wanted to immortalise his art. He was secretive and enigmatic, and did not
like to disclose the mysteries of his art. He sang verses of wisdom generally attributed to Ab
al-Athiya (c. 748-825) and Ibn al-Frid (1181-1235). He performed mainly in mosques and
in the meeting places of religious brotherhoods which were prohibited to non-Muslims. Idrs
ibn Jalln of Fez (Benjelloun in dialect, 1881-1946) was more open to amateurs and music
lovers. He was a lute player who had many disciples, of whom Muhammad ibn Muhammad
ibn Ahmad al-Brd al-Slw (deceased 1950) and Azzz ibn Nn who he taught the pure
Arab-Andalusian tradition. He was a master of classical music, both sacred and profane but
was equally proficient in erotic songs or hymns to bachus, presented as mystical but now
censored or forgotten. He gives a sampling of his talent in the la, with his inimitable fs
accent.
The lute player and singer Azzz ibn Nn of Fez (Bennani in dialect, 1890-1960) was one of
- 25 -

the stars of the Path recording studio in the 1920s. He accompanied a number of classical
and popular artists and even recorded lewd jokes in Fez dialect (ustuwna mudhika, comic
record). The tawshiya of Ibls (Overture of the Devil), interpreted here, has been forgotten
by most modern musicians. This piece follows instrumental themes that are accompanied
by a nonsense refrain (h n n) which suggests the Devils growl. He was famous for his
mastery of the la, the malhn and Egyptian melodies was as well as for his legendary good
humor. The violinist and viola player Muhammad al-Brh of Fez (1850-1945) was one of the
most famous musicians of his time, known for his playing of the alto violin and the rebab. His
version of overtures and instrumental intermezzo of the nawba was assimilated by many of his
disciples and widely diffused today in music schools and conservatories. Many pieces of the
la repertory were saved from disappearing altogether thanks to him and his pupils.
Bint Haniyya (c. 1890-1939) was one of the greatest shaykht (chikht in dialect) of
Casablanca. She was a prostitute from an extremely poor family and sang and danced for a
living. Her popular songs (dhikr and ayta) were quite famous. They were often accompanied
by dancers, women or transvestites. Bint Haniyya was murdered by a passionate lover, a
French legionaire, an alcholic and a deserter. Abd al-Qdir Battta of Casablanca (died
1950) was one of the greatest malhn artists. He composed melodies as well as poems and
refused any influence from the east or west, defending the authenticity of popular tradition.
The sultan Muhammad ibn Ysuf (1909-1927-1961) often invited him to play for his guests
during the Ramadam festivities. He died of a heart attack upon his return from a pilgrimage
to Mecca.
In 1932, the artists at the Cairo Music Congress were the representatives of traditional
music. They were afterwards tempted to introduce the piano and to form large orchestras.
The sultan Muhammad ibn Ysuf delegated a heterogenous group of virtuousos in the Nile
valley. All were group leaders but all belonged to, or were influenced by, the Fez school of
music. Most were singers, played several instruments and made instruments. Muhammad
ibn Qaddr ibn Ghabrt (died 1954), plenipotentiary minister and rector of the mosque in
Paris, headed the delegation as violinist and lute player. He was an Algerian from Nedroma
and moved to Morocco to avoid the French draft. He continued the tradition of exchanges
- 26 -

between the music shools of Tlemcen and Fez. Muhammad al-Shuwayka (c. 1890-1940) was
from Meknes and was part of the Qdiriyya Alamiyya religious brotherhood. He was called
to the court by the Sultan Ysuf in 1926 as a singer of religious and profane music. Umar
Fid al-Juayd or al-Jaid (1873-1952) was a pupil of Sad al-Fs, Mansr al-Fs,
Muhammad al-Swir and Abd al-Salm al-Brh. He played the vila for the court under the
reign of sultan Abd al-Azz IV (1894-1908). He reorganised military music and contributed
to preserve a number of pieces from the repertory of Fez, his home town. He was a member
of the Zayyid Muhammad al-Attr brotherhood.
Other studies of these same masters were also selected for this CD: Muhammad al-Dd
(lute player), Uthmn al-Tz (lute plaher), violinist and scholar Muhammad al Mutayr
(or el-Matr in dialect, 1876-1946) and percussionist Abd al-Salm ibn Ysuf 1879-1850),
from Rabat and versed in malhn popular urban music. Muhammad al-Dukkl, called
Habb Imbrk (or Mbrk in dialect, 1893-1963) was a specialist in la as well as the
nawbt gharnta. He learned how to make Egyptian lutes, known for their wide register and
flexible playing, and contributed to spread this instrument throughout Morocco. However,
in an effort to preserve his heritage, he published a Rsum de lanthologie dal-Hik,
widely used by the new classical school of Rabat. We have already published extracts of
this Moroccan contributed to the Congress of Cairo (see discography). In 1939, the first
congress of Moroccan music took place in Rabat with for purpose to study and uniformise
the techniques and practices. This was without success as the artistic diversity and the spirit
of autonomy of these musicians proved to be stronger.
Bernard Moussali
English translation : Katherine Krieger.

- 27 -

Enregistrements
1. David ibn Arsh (Benarouche en dialecte): mawwl Sk, violon et d, 243.
2. David ibn Arsh: mawwl Irq et qasda malhna miknsiyya: Ghazl, y ghazl (Ma
gazelle, ma gazelle), violon et d, 518.
3. David Zayn (Zayn en dialecte): mawwl et batih al-Hijz al-Kabr, violon, darbukka
et d, 502.
4. David Zayn: mawwl et taghtiya Shl: Zran al-mahbb(u) f riydi l-s (Laim ma
rendu visite dans le jardin des myrtes), violon et d, 240.
5. David Zayn: qasda tlimsniyya, violon, darbukka et d, 242.
6. Abd al-Rahmn Zuwaytin (Zwten en dialecte): baytn Idh qultu li-qalb (Si je disais
mon coeur) et taghtiya Istihll Qalb yuhaddithun bi-annaka mutlif (Mon coeur me dit
que tu es mon sducteur), qasda-s attribues ibn al-Frid, violon et claquements de main,
309.
7. Abd al-Rahmn Zuwaytin: baytn Mujtathth Saqn l-haw (Il ma abreuv damour)
et taghtiya al-Hijz al-Kabr, violon et claquements de main, 307.
8. Idrs ibn Jalln (Benjelloun en dialecte): baytn Ramal et batih al-Hijz al-Kabr Irham
qulayb l-muann (Sois clment envers mon coeur tortur), violon par Muhammad alSlw, d par Azzz ibn Nn et claquements de main, 305.
9. Idrs ibn Jalln: baytn Majz al-Ramal Wajaba sh-shukru alayn m daa li-l-Lhi
d (Le remerciement nous est prescrit, tant que prchera un chantre, pome anonyme
la louange du Prophte, plus connu grce son premier vers Talaa l-badru alayn min
Thaniyyti l-Wad, La pleine lune nous est apparue au Col des Adieux) et bath al-Mya
Unzhur tar l-ijb (Regarde, tu verras le miracle), (mmes instrumentistes): violon, d et
claquements de main, 312.
10. Idrs ibn Jalln: qasda mujniyya (chant rotique sur le corps humain) Hdh rs,
m h rs (Voici ma tte et ceci ne lest pas), mmes instrumentistes: violon, d, rires et
claquements de main, 305.
11. Idrs ibn Jalln: baytn Madd et taghtiya al-Hijz al-Kabr Y uhayla l-him ( habitants du sanctuaire), mmes instrumentistes: violon et d, 257.
- 28 -

12. Idrs ibn Jalln: sana Zidn bi-farti l-hubbi fka tahayyur/ wa-(i)rham hashn bi-lazhka tasaar (Augmente ma perplexit avec lexcs de ton amour/ et sois clment envers un
coeur que tes regards ont enflamm), qasda dibn al-Frid, mmes instrumentistes: violon
et d, 250.
13. Azzz ibn Nn (Bennani en dialecte): mawwl Misr et taghtiya Y nasma s-sab (
zphyr du Ponant), violon par Muhammad al-Slw et claquements de main, 253.
14. Azzz ibn Nn: baytn Mazmm Habb, law jr (Mon amour, sil tait injuste) et
taghtiya Irq al-Ajam Dba yat l-Lh bi-nri t-tarab (Maintenant, Dieu nous donne la
lumire de lextase), violon et claquements de main, 304.
15. Azzz ibn Nn: tawshiyat Ibls (Ouverture du Diable), violon, paroles sans signification
et claquements de main, 239.
16. Azzz ibn Nn: sanat shughl Ahd nasmu s-sabh (Le vent du matin a offert), violon
par Muhammad al-Brh et claquements de main, 235.
17. Azzz ibn Nn: sanat shughl Malhu l-muhayy ( beau visage), violon par
Muhammad al-Brh, d, darbukka, 302.
18. Ensemble de Muhammad al-Brh: insirf quddm al-Mya (Intermde du mouvement
insirf quddm de la nawba al-Mya), violon par Muhammad al-Brh, d par Azzz ibn
Nn et darbukka, 308.
19. Azzz ibn Nn: sanat shughl Y jr ( voisin), violon par Muhammad al-Brh, d
par le chanteur et darbukka, 259.
21. Shaykha bint Haniyya et son ensemble: Dhikr ed-Drsiyya, qarqeb, darbukka, danse
fminine et claquements de main, 312.
20. Shaykha bint Haniyya et son ensemble: Dhikr bent Haniyya we-Haddn, qarqeb,
darbukka, danse fminine et claquements de main, 257.
22. Abd al-Qdir Battta et son ensemble: Aytat ed-Dr el-Beyd, I (Chant populaire de
Casablanca), violon par Hamd al-Tz et claquements de main, 306.
23. Abd al-Qdir Battta et son ensemble: Aytat ed-Dr el-Beyd, II (Chant populaire de
Casablanca), violon par Hamd al-Tz et claquements de main, 252.

- 29 -

Discographie
Il existe aujourdhui de nombreux CD consacrs la musique marocaine, savante ou populaire, nous avons donc privilgi trois dentre eux, parmi les plus authentiques:
Maroc, Ustad Massano Tazi, musique classique andalouse de Fs, Ocora-Radio France, C
559035, Harmonia Mundi, HM 83, 1988, Paris.
Congrs de musique arabe du Caire, 1932, volume II, Institut du Monde Arabe et
Bibliothque Nationale, Phonothque Nationale, Paris 1988, APN 88-10.
Hasan al-Tull, le malhn de Fs, Institut du Monde Arabe, 1994.
Bibliographie
ibn Abd al-Jall (Abd al-Azz): Al-Msq al-andalusiyya al-maghribiyya (La Musique
Andalouse Marocaine), Koweyt, lam al-Marifa, 1988.
Idem: Mujam mustalaht al-msq al-andalusiyya al-maghribiyya (Dictionnaire des
Termes Techniques de la Musique Andalouse Marocaine), Rabat, Mahad al-Dirst wa-lAbhth li-l-Tarb, 1992.
ibn Jalln (al-Hjj Idrs): Al-Turth al-arab al-maghrib f al-msq, mustamalt nawbt
al-tarab al-andalus al-maghrib: shir, tawshh, zajal, barwil, dirsa wa-tansq wa-tashh
Kunnsh al-Hik (Le Patrimoine musical arabe marocain, les noubas en usage actuel de la
musique andalouse marocaine: posie, chants classiques mesurs et barwil. tude, harmonisation et correction du Manuscrit dal-Hik), Casablanca, Matbaat al-Ryis, 1981.
ibn Mansr (Abd al-Latf): Majm azjl wa-tawshh wa-ashr al-msq al-andalusiyya
al-maghribiyya al-marf bi-l-Hik (Recueil de chants mesurs, mdians ou classiques et
de pomes de la musique andalouse marocaine), Rabat, Matbaat al-Rf, 1397 hgire/1977
apJC.
Chottin (Alexis): Tableau de la Musique Marocaine, Paris, Paul Geuthner, 1939.
Erlanger et autres (baron Rodolphe d): La Musique arabe, Paris, Paul Geuthner, 1949,
volume V et 1959, volume VI.
Guettat (Mahmoud): La Musique Classique du Maghreb, Paris, Sindbad, 1980.
- 30 -

Khzin (Philippe Qadn al-): al-Adhr al-Myist (Les Vierges lances), Beyrouth, Dr
Sdir, seconde dition, 1982.
Maqqar (Ab al-Abbs Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-): Nafh al-tb min ghusn al-andalus
al-ratb (Les Brises parfumes de la tendre et arborescente Andalousie), Beyrouth, Dr Sdir,
1968.
Moussali (Bernard): Tradition et modernit, le Congrs du Caire en 1932, Universit de la
Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, 1980.
Poch (Christian): La Musique Arabo-Andalouse, ditions Actes Sud et Cit de la Villette,
Arles, 1995.
Ryis (Abd al-Karm al-): Min wahyi al-rabb (De lInspiration du Rabb), Rabat, Matbaat
al-Najh al-Jadda, 1403 hgire/1982 apJC.
Shihb al-Dn (Muhammad): Nafsat al-mulk wa-safnat al-fulk (LArche de souverainet et
la prcieuse nef), le Caire, al-Matbaa al-Hajariyya, 1273 hgire/1856 apJC.
Shiloah (Amnon): The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (c. 900-1900), Descriptive
Catalogue of Manuscripts in Libraries of Europe and the USA, Munich, G. Henle Verlag,
Rpertoire International des Sources Musicales (R.I.S.M), Socit internationale de musicologie et Association internationale des Bibliothques musicales, 1979, srie B, tome X.
Idem: Music in the World of Music of Islam, a Socio-Cultural Study, Scholar Press, London
et Wayne State University Press, 1995.

- 31 -

Maroc I

Chants savants et populaires

David ibn Arsh


Azzz ibn Nn
1 - mawwl Sk : 
243
13 - mawwl Misr et taghtiya : 
2 - mawwl Irq et qasda malhna miknsiyya :
14. - baytn Mazmm et taghtiya : 

518
15 - tawshiyat Ibls : 
David Zayn
16 - sanat shughl Ahd nasmu s-sabh : 
3 - mawwl et batih al-Hijz al-Kabr : 
502
17 - sanat shughl Malhu l-muhayy : 
Ensemble de Muhammad al-Brh
4 - mawwl et taghtiya Shl : 
240
5 - qasda tlimsniyya : 
242
18 - insirf quddm al-Mya : 
Abd al-Rahmn Zuwaytin
Azzz ibn Nn
6 - baytn et taghtiya Istihll : 
309
19 - sanat shughl Y jr : 
Shaykha bint Haniyya et son ensemble
7 - baytn Mujtathth et taghtiya : 
307
Idrs ibn Jalln
20 - Dhikr ed-Drsiyya : 
8 - baytn Ramal et batih al-Hijz al-Kabr :  305
21 - Dhikr bent Haniyya we-Haddn : 
Abd al-Qdir Battta et son ensemble
9 - baytn Majz al-Ramal et bath al-Mya :  312
22 - Aytat ed-Dr el-Beyd, I : 
10 - qasda mujniyya : 
305
11 - baytn Madd et taghtiya : 
257
23 - Aytat ed-Dr el-Beyd, II : 
12 - sana Zidn bi-farti l-hubbi fka tahayyur :

250- 32 -

253
304
239
235
302
308
259
312
257
306
252