Gnaoua Music Anthropology
In order to preserve the heritage, the Yerma Gnaoua Association undertook the production of an anthology dedicated to this ancestral art, with the aim being is the promotion of its rhythmic, melodic, lyric and stylistic richness.
This effort supported by the collection of the sung lyrics also aspires to inject a dynamic of creativity by allowing the musicians, composers and researchers to have an extensive source of original materials to go back to for all Moroccan music. We know as well how interested many musicians around the world are in this music. In this anthology they will find another opportunity to serve it in the wide space of world music.
In face of a great oral tradition the inherent quality of which is to constantly vary while maintaining its basic character, it was not possible to seek exhaustiveness, especially that the variety of interpretations is related to the point of view of the maalem as well to the setting in which he performs. The performance changes in space and time and according to the context and the audience.
The inherent nature of the oral tradition is to be mobile and changing, the maalems of different generations have become used to leave out some parts and add in others. Faced with such a difficulty to record an unchanging repertory, this anthology establishes a normal evolution of the various phases setting aside the differences that do not affect the coherence of the general body.
We have complied in 9 CDs of the anthology all the conventional phases with all the nuances and references of the Gnaoua repertory in a crosswise set of regional interpretations: the introductions, the play of the percussions, the playful phases, as well as the complete contribution of the mlouks and colors.
Our anthology is based on three criteria: authenticity, Lila integrity (ritual night) while taking account of some significant variants.
Firstly, it was necessary to weed out several pieces stemming from recent contacts with the urban popular songs as well as from exchanges with certain religious confraternities.
Then we preserved the conventional occurrence of the Lila in 3 parts (al ada, Oulad Bambara, and mlouks).
And lastly, we integrated some regional variants, as the performance of isamgane (Gnaoua amazighs), the Northern version the sebtiyyine (Jewish Gnaoua) and the pre-Saharan gangas.
The choice of the maalems makes no classification of the latter. It goes without saying that all masters are equal, but our sole criterion was to assign to each one the repertory he masters the best, the objective being to get a full range.
We now have an audio recording of more than 14 hours on 9 CDs. All of the sung texts have been transcribed in Arabic and translated into French. The Anthology also includes the book consisting of the texts providing a threefold explanation (historical, anthropological and musicological), a travel book retracing the first mission of prospection and, needless to say, the biographies of the maalems.
Extensive work on iconography and modeling was carried out and many measures were taken for this anthology to pay tribute to our living human treasures. The anthology will be disseminated on the occasion of the forthcoming Festival in June 2014.