Music is a very big deal in the Moroccan culture. From the smallest rural towns in the mountains to the large, metropolitan cities – the air is filled with the incredible sounds of traditional Moroccan musical instruments. The traditional music shows up in many forms – Folk music, Arab-Andalusian music, and roots-fusion music, too. Ritual music is even said to help people deal with evil spirits.
The music of Morocco ranges from the modern to the traditional. Morocco plays host to musical performers from all around the world, especially in the big cities. But in the smaller and more “out-of-the-way” places where life is quieter, traditional music is the big winner. And for good reason. Because it is in the traditional music where you truly feel the heartbeat of Morocco.
Traditional Morocan Music Performances
Spend enough time in the Atlas Mountains and you are bound to run into a troupe of professional musicians known as Imdyazn. These talented people travel from town to town in the warmer months, performing at the weekly souks and in village squares. Using drums, clarinet, and rabab, musicians accompany professional singers who tell stories and poems about everything from legends to current events.
In the Sous valley, you will find Cheuh Berber musicians called Rwais. These groups of musicians perform ancient musical theater which features poetry, beautiful costumes, various instruments including cymbals, and many singers. These talented entertainers play during major celebrations, speaking and singing about both the past and the present.
If you get the opportunity to attend any of these wonderful performances, you may see several instruments you’ve never seen before.
Traditional Moroccan Musical Instruments
There are a number of Moroccan instruments that may seem unrecognizable to Westerners. But if you have been introduced to any instruments originating in one of the Arab or Muslim countries, you may find the Moroccan versions to look a bit different but sound soothingly familiar.
Some of the instruments you might see on your travels around Morocco:
The Bendir (also known as an erbani) is a wood-framed drum. Large around but with short sides, the Bendir looks a bit like a tambourine at first. But there are no jangles to shake on a Bendir. Rather, a wide variety of sounds can be made, simply by using different hand movements and techniques. Watch here to enjoy the look and sound of this wonderful instrument in the hands of someone who knows how to play!
Nai (Ney, Nay)
The Nai is a reed flute and is one of the oldest instruments in the world. It can be made of metal, reed, or wood. A Nai is usually a singular flute, but the “pan flute” many of us are familiar with is simply a variation of the Nai. You can enjoy the haunting sounds of this enchanting instrument in this video.
The Rabab is very similar to the lute. Although the stringed instrument originated in Afghanistan, it’s melodic sounds are an important component of traditional Moroccan music. Check out this video to hear this unique instrument for yourself.
The Lotar is another stringed instrument that is similar to a lute. Simple and basic, it provides a lovely, rich sound when played, as you can hear in this video.
Small and delicate in appearance, Qraqebs are hand cymbals that provide a beautiful rhythmic jingle to the music. You can enjoy their unique sound here.
The Sintir is a guitar-like instrument with a nice, rich sound. You can enjoy the sounds of this great instrument in this video – as well as a variety of other instruments, as well.
These are only a few of the instruments you may see when listening to traditional music in Morocco. In addition to the instruments, music often features rhythmic hand clapping, singing, and chanting, too. It is often accompanied by traditional dances such as the Ahouache and the Ahidus, as well.
Ways to Experience Moroccan Music Online (Until You Get Here)
Every day, we get closer to the day when visitors can, once again, head here to Morocco to hear the music, see the sights, and enjoy the adventure of their dreams. If a great tour is part of your vacation dreams, be sure to contact us here at Roaming Camels and let us help you plan your best trip possible. Our camels would love to meet you, too!