juin 04, 2021

With more than 30 choreographic and musical genres, Moroccan music is diverse and is an integral part of the country’s culture. Very varied from a region to another, each genre and group is composed of regional subgroups.

There are many instruments: the bendir, for instance, is a percussion of Berber origin, which is ideal to accompany traditional songs. The guembri is a cord instrument that can be found in all Maghreb countries and the tbila is a percussion instrument.

They are themselves made from a wide variety of materials: terracotta, leather, wood, metal.

Nevertheless, for some years now, Eastern culture has been influenced by Western culture and its instruments: mandolins, pianos, guitars were incorporated and adapted to this musical register.

moroccan music guitar

However, contrary to the western system where the music is conserved in writing, eastern music is often passed down orally.

Chants, songs and poetries are the same, which facilitate their learning, enabling a faster memorization and so a wider diffusion. Since there is no traditional teaching system, being a musician is a true vocation.

Its influences

Crossroads between the West, the East and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Moroccan culture is very influenced by the outside world and music is no exception. Its principal influence is the Berber, which is the oldest people of Morocco, using traditional instruments such as the rebab or the lotar. Their music varies a lot according to the regions but they always go with dances that accentuate their rhythms.

Music and poetries have always been mixed and get their inspiration from the daily life: we can notice the Saharan influence in a large number of poems, especially the hassani ones, which narrate life in the desert, its traditions or also the nomad life. Some choreographies like the warrior dances underline the influence of Greco-Roman and Phoenician cultures, as well as some rhythmic manifestations (the quinary rhythm for instance). The Andalusian culture, imported by the Spaniards and Arabs expelled from Spain and refugees in the North also played an important role and is at the origin of the most famous noubas, kinds of instrumental and vocal suites.

The movements

Today, three distinct musical movements are remaining: traditional art music, popular music and modern era music.

Very diverse but also reluctant to improvisation and codified, traditional art music predominates in cities and favors poetry, which becomes the main element of the musical piece. On the contrary, popular music will favor improvisation through songs and dances, made easier by the Eastern tradition of oral transmission of music.

Born in the beginning of the 20th century, the so-called modern era music really starts to develop shortly after the country’s independence. Two tendencies stand out: the first one adopts classical Arabic, and the second one the Moroccan dialect.

Where can you listen to it?

If the radio allowed Moroccan music to develop itself over the past few years, and especially to modernize itself, attend a live concert remains an experience worth living if you have the occasion!

Each year, traditional or more modern music groups gather in Moroccan big cities: the festival of the world sacred music in Fez, the National festival of Popular Arts of Marrakech, the Timitar festival of Agadir or also the TanJazz of Tangier are the most famous ones.

For those who are on a budget, a lot of coffeeshops, generally located outside of the medinas organize little concerts each night: go there to dance or more simply to enjoy the music while having a drink.

Some songs to discover

Allah ala raha, Fath Allah Lemghar

Ya Ben Lemdina, Maâti Ben Kassem

Ya Sidi Ana Hor, Mohammed El Hayani

Lik, Oum

Bent Nass, Ahmed Soultan 


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