Gnaoua music calls for the soul and body

Gnaoua music is quite widespread in Morocco but also in other Maghreb countries. During a trip to Morocco, you will undoubtedly have the opportunity to come across a group of Gnaouas (or Gnawas) or a single Gnaoua. They are found, for example, in the Jemaa el Fna square in Marrakech and the medinas of other cities in Morocco.

Where is Gnaoua music from?

Gnaoua music in morocco

Gnaoua music was invented by the descendants of enslaved Black people in the Maghreb. The exact origins of Gnaoua music are hazy. Several rituals and music from the Sahel would be at the head of the Gnaoua music, which would have evolved in the Maghreb to conform to Islam.

Its rhythms and sounds now characterize Gnaoua music and its colors, outfits, and dances. Gnaoua music is also punctuated with rituals and traditions.

To sum up, Gnaoua is a mixture of contributions from black Africa and Arab and Amazigh.

Gnaoua musical instruments

Gnaoua musical instruments

Gnawas mainly use 3 musical instruments.

The Guembri

The guembri is the most essential instrument in a gnaoua group, and everyone plays it. The maalem uses it. Maâlem is also the group’s singer.

The guembri is a stringed instrument, as seen in the photo above. It has 3 strings.

Its soundbox is covered with camel skin. It is this dried skin that the musician strikes simultaneously with the strings. This also gives a percussion sound to the instrument.

The qraqeb

The qraqebs or karkabous are percussion instruments. The sound produced comes directly from the instrument’s material (metal), so it is an instrument called an idiophone.

By observing the qraqeb, it is easy to play them. Well, I can tell you that it is not accessible after trying. Do not hesitate to try; there are quite a few in Morocco, especially in musical instrument shops. If you want to buy some as a souvenir, it’s very affordable!

The tbel

The tbel is a drum. It is not used in pairs, and there are often 2 tbel players in a Gnaoua music group.

Gnaoua music in Morocco

Gnaoua music festival

Gnaoua music in Morocco is present almost everywhere in the country. During a trip to Morocco, you will undoubtedly come across them. There is almost always a group of gnaouas in Marrakech at the end of the afternoon and evening on the Jemaa el Fna square. In Fez, there is sometimes a group of gnaouas near Bab Boujloud (one of the entrances to the medina of Fez).

Essaouira hosts the Gnaoua festival every year. There are several days when there are animations and concerts of Gnaoua and other world music.

Also, in Fez, the Fez Festival of Sacred Music of the World can host performances of Gnaoua music even if this festival is not dedicated to Gnaouas.

Before your trip, do not hesitate to look on the net to listen to some Gnaoua music; you can make up your mind about this music before your trip.

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