Glossary of Terms
A cappella- Music that is purely vocal, with no instrumental accompaniment.
Ahwash- Literally "dance," is a form of Berber village music typically sung and danced by two large antiphonal (call and response) groups.
Al-Andalus- An Islamic civilization based in modern-day Spain which thrived from the 8th to 15th centuries. Its culture was a mix of Jewish, Christian and Islamic tradition. It was here that Andalusian music originated.
Alawite dynasty- Ruling dynasty of Morocco beginning in 1631 and continuing to the present. Andalusian music experienced a resurgence under this dynasty.
Almohad Caliphate- A Berber caliphate which ruled Morocco from 1121 to 1269 and which repressed Andalusian music, calling it un-spiritual.
Amazight (Berber) People- The indigenous, pre-islamic people group of Morocco.
Andalusian music- Often called the classical music of Morocco, Andalusian music originated in the Iberian Peninsula between the 9th and 15th centuries and is today an elite form of Moroccan music.
Banwala- A piercing ululation used by women across North Africa as a celebration noise. Used by Sephardic women at the end of songs.
Bendir- A frame drum played with the fingers, usually has a snare stretched across its back.
Berber Culture Movement- Movement advocating for recognition of the Berber culture within Arab society and fighting against the stereotypes of Berbers as "backwards."
Berber music- The music of the indigenous Berber people of Morocco.
Bilal- The first black man to convert to Islam, the personal servant of the Prophet Mohammed, and the first muezzin (caller to prayer), patron saint of the Gnawa.
Black October Protests- A series of student protests in Algeria in 1988 that cemented Ra'i music's reputation as protest music.
Boughia- An arrhythmic introduction to each nubah used to set the mood of the nubah.
Chaabi music- The popular music of North Africa; different styles carrying the same name exist across the region. It is the music of the popular class; blending Arab traditions with African and Western traditions.
Cheb- Title used by the younger generation of male Ra'i musicians, to distinguish themselves from the traditional chiouks.
Cheba- Title used by the younger generation of female Ra'i musicians, to distinguish themselves from the traditional cheikhates.
Cheikhates- The traditional female singers of Ra'i.
Chiouks- The traditional male singers of Ra'i.
Darbouka- Also called the doumbek, it is a single-head drum played held under the arm or held sideways on the lap.
Eastern Sephardic tradition- The music of the Sephardic Jews living in the Balkans.
Floreo- The vocal ornamentation used in Sephardic music, primarily in the Eastern tradition.
Gasba- A traditional Berber wind instrument in Algeria. It is made from wood and typically has 7 or 9 holes. The gasba was the most traditional melodic Ra'i instrument.
Ghaita (also know as rhaita) is a double-reed wind instrument used in Ra'i music.
Gimbri- Also known as the sintir or hajhuj, is a plucked lute with three strings.
Gnawa music- Based in African spiritual traditions and a history of slavery, Gnawa music is a ritualistic genre that is steadily being integrated into Moroccan popular culture.
Gnawa people- Ethnic group brought to Morocco from sub-Saharan Africa beginning around the 11th century.
Griha music- A form of Chaabi music that is directly descended from Andalusian music. It uses the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, Darija, instead of the classical Arabic used in Andalusian music.
Guellal- A long, cylindrical drum made from clay or wood, with a goat-skin head. It was the rhythmical basis for traditional Ra'i music.
Harba- The chorus of Malhun music.
Hassan II, King- King of Morocco from 1961 to 1999, following Moroccan independence. Responsible for the revival of multiple Moroccan musical traditions.
Heterophonic- A musical texture where the primary melody is accompanied by instruments that follow the same melodic line, even if they don't play the exact same notes.
Judeo-Spanish- An umbrella term for the language of the Sephardic Jews. See also "Ladino."
Kamenjah (modern)- A violin or viola played on the knee.
Kamenjah (traditional)- A bowed string instrument played throughout the middle east, mostly replaced by the violin (modern Kamenjah) in contemporary ensembles.
Khaketia- The language of the Sephardic Jews living in Morocco.
Kunnash of Al-Haik- A songbook published in 1789 which remains the definitive source on classical Andalusian music in Morocco.
Ladino- An umbrella term for the language of the Sephardic Jews. See also "Judeo-Spanish."
Leseb- Section at the end of Chaabi music when the tempo of the music is doubled and the music is accompanied by clapping, dancing, and shouting.
Lila- A Gnawa trance ceremony designed to cure spiritually and physical maladies. It takes place in a private home, begins after sunset and lasts all night.
Lira- A traditional Moroccan flute made out of bamboo.
Loutar- A plucked lute unique to Berber music in Morocco. It has three strings (more recently four), and is found mostly in the Middle Atlas region. It is also known as a gimbri, but it is not the same instrument found in gnawa music.
Madihs- Hymns honoring the prophet Mohammed.
Malhun music- A type of melodic, sung poetry, Malhun developed exclusively among the artisans of Morocco and borrows much of its musical tradition from Andalusian music.
Microtones- Intervals not found within the western scale system, which equates 12 intervals to one octave.
Mizan- The sections of each Andalusian nubah. Each nubah contains five mizan, and each mizan has a specific rhythm.
Mlek- The seven spirits invoked during a Gnawa lila.
Monophonic- A musical texture where the only line of music is that of the melody.
Nai- A rim-blown flute used across the Arab world.
Naqus- A metal bell played with metal rods.
Nubahs- The building blocks of Andalusian music. Originally, Andalusian music was composed of 24 nubahs, but in Morocco only 11 of these have survived.
Oran- City in the north of Algeria where Ra'i music originated in the 1920's.
Oud- Five-stringed plucked instrument used in music throughout the Middle East, related to the Western lute.
Qanun- A flat, 26-stringed instrument played throughout the Middle East.
Qasida- The form of Moroccan poetry sung in Malhun music.
Qraqeb- Also known as karkabas, is a set of metallic castanets held in the hand.
Ra'i music- A modern style that originated in Algeria, Ra'i blends numerous musical forms to create a revolutionary, popular style that has achieved international recognition. Literally "opinion."
Rebab (Andalusian)- A two-stringed, bowed instrument.
Rebab (Berber)- A one-stringed, bowed instrument found in various iterations around the Arab world.
Rwais- (singular rais). Small, traveling groups of professional Berber musicians.
Sephardic music- Brought to Morocco following the Jewish expulsion from Spain in the 15th century, Sephardic music is the music of the Jewish population in Morocco.
Strophic- A type of song form, with alternating versus and choruses that follow the same melodic patterns. The opposite of through-composed.
Taarija- A hand-held drum, made out of clay, with a goat-skin head.
Tafilalt- A region of Morocco south of Fez and across the Atlas desert. It borders the Sahara and is considered the birthplace of Malhun music.
Taqsim- An arrythmic, instrumental introduction to the qasida in Malhun music.
Tbel- Also known as ganga, is a large double-headed drum played with one curved stick and one straight stick.
Touchiya- An instrumental rhythmic introduction to nubahs in Andalusian music.
Western Sephardic Tradition- The music of the Sephardic Jews living in Morocco.
Ziryab- Andalusian musician widely credited with the creation of Andalusian music.