About the session: Arabo-Andalucian music, recorded at the Moussem Moulay Idriss in Fes. In Morocco, a moussem (ar. season) is a festival held in honor of a locally revered Sufi holy man. This moussem commemorates Moulay Idriss, the ruler of the first independent Moroccan Islamic state as well as the founder of the city of Fes in 789 CE. Arabo-Andalucian music in Morocco (often called musiqa al-'ala, or "high music") is based on the musical traditions of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) which were brought to North Africa byJewish and Muslim refugees expelled by the Christian Reconquista in the 15th Century. Arabo-Andalucian music is based on a modal system of orchestral suites called nubaat. Within the framework of the nuba there is considerable room for improvisation within the dominant musical mode. Lyrically, al-Andalus witnessed the development of new verse forms such as muwashahat and zajal in order to better fit poetic speech to song. Lomax notes: "A rectangle of 30 men, 6 violins, 2 cellos, 2 lutes, one kanoon [sic] (zither), one frame drum, 3 little drums—all men clap and sing. Sherifa, the woman in black, gives her high lonesome cry in the background."
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