Gnawa is the name of a people, a culture and a form of music with deep roots in Arabic, African and Berbic history. You can hear gnawa-related music several places in Africa, under different names. In Morocco, it is an essential part of music and culture. The traditional instruments used are qraqebs, huge iron castanets, the three stringed bass lute Guembri and call and response vocals.
Gnawa has evolved in connection with lilas, big communal sufi rituals where the music is performed in long sequences or suites, where a series of rituals are woven together over pulsating rhythms. For the last decades, gnawa has become a lot more accessible outside of the religious context. A festival like Gnaoua d’Essaouira has reached out to new listeners and musicians from other genres and places. As a result, the influence of Gnawa has grown – the polyrhythms of the qraqeb combines well with modern rhythms, the long stretches of the songs are ideally suited for musical improvisation. Different sonic experiments have made it obvious that both electronic dance music and spiritual jazz are traditions which get a lot of their inspiration from the same place that Gnawa does – the urge to dance and to lose oneself in the music.
Today, traditional Gnawa and different forms of fusion coexist, both on Gnawa festivals and in Moroccan culture in general. Lauded master musicians can move from performing the music as it has “always” been heard, to sharing the stage with musicians from other traditions, looking for new places and sounds. At Oslo World this year, we get to hear both of these directions.
In collaboration with Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in Norway.
The eight members of Gabacho Maroc come from places such as Morocco, Algeria and France. Since their album debut “Bissara” in 2014, the band has made connections between gnawa and other berbic music, but also jazz, funk and all kinds of music from other parts of the globe. More >
Even though women are essential to Gnawa rituals, there has not been many female Gnawa musicians. Asmâa Hamzaoui and the group Bnat Timboktou are part of a new wave who changes this trend.
Hamzaoui was born into a Casablanca family who has lived More >