About the session: These varied songs and instrumentals were recorded in Marrakech’s Jama’ al-Fna, a large public square where a variety of professional musicians gather (as well as acrobats, snake-charmers, monkey-handlers, fortunetellers, etc.) in order to solicit the attention and donations of the assembled crowds. The musical styles on offer in Jama’ al-Fna are extremely diverse: the first song is representative of the music of the Gnawa spiritual brotherhoods of Morocco, characterized by the rhythm of qaraqab (large wooden castanets) and the sound of the sintir (3-stringed guitar). Gnawa brotherhoods are, for the most part, descended from enslaved West-Africans of the Bambara ethnic group brought to Morocco during the Sa’adian Dynasty (1554-1659). Gnawa music is traditionally performed as part of a spiritual healing ceremony (ar. lilah; night) which combines elements of Islamic Sufi as well as animist West African ritual (i.e. derdeba, or the rite of spirit possession). The entrances of different musical figures represent entrances of distinct spirits or “presences” (ar. muluk)
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