The city of Fez is located in northern Morocco at the axes of two main communication routes that connected the Atlantic to the central Magrib and the Straights of Gibraltar to the Africa. Fez was probably founded in the late eighth-century by the Idrisids, eventually developing through the merging of two separate cities on opposite banks of the Wadi Fez river. The two cities spent almost a century under the rule of the Umayyads of al-Andalus, before a succession of Berber dynasties conquered it. The Almoravid conquest of the city in the late eleventh-century was a pivotal moment, when the previously autonomous cities were united into one, spurring new development in the form of a fortress, new urban quarters, and water infrastructure. Upon the Almohad conquest of the city in 1145 the form of the city was changed again - the Almohads razed much of the Almoravid fortifications before constructing new walls and gates in the thirteenth-century, which to a large degree have survived.
Conquered again in the thirteenth-century by the Marinids, Fez became the capital city of the dynasty. Always second in importance to Marrakech, which had been the capital of both the Almoravids and Almohads, Fez developed into a major intellectual and commercial center under the Marinids. Beginning in 674/1276 the Marinids constructed Fes al-Jadid ("New Fes"), a new administrative citadel surrounded by a double wall, west of the old walled city, which then was known as Fes al-Bali ("Ancient Fes"). The Marinids embellished their populous capital with the numerous madrasas for which it is famous and constructed estates in the countryside around the city.
Fez remained under Marinid rule until it was conquered by the Sa'di dynasty in the sixteenth-century, and then again by the 'Alawi dynasty in 1666. In the late nineteenth-century Fes al-Jadid and Fes al-Bali were united with new walls.
"Fas." In Encyclopedia of Islam. 2nd ed. Leiden: Brill.
Le Tourneau, Roger. Fez in the age of the Marinides. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. c. 1961.
Le Tourneau, Roger. Fes avant le protectorat : etude economique et sociale d'une ville de l'occident musulman. Rabat : Editions La Porte. 1987
Revault, J., L. Golvin and A. Amahane. 1985-89. Les Palais et demeures de Fes. 2 vols Paris. 1985-1989.
Recorded by Paul Bowles at Fez, Morocco September 25,1959
"This was a test recording which was not supposed to be kept, but given that Andaluz music of quality is the most difficult of all to find and the most expensive to record, I did not erase it afterward. Subsequently Abdelkrim Rais demanded $600 (finally reduced to $500) to play one nouba. The piece here presented cost $50, which is already a fairly large sum in Moroccan currency. Andaluz music is much in demand for weddings and parties in general, which explains the relatively large sums the directors of orchestras are able to command. The Moroccans are very much aware that this is their only true art-music, and value it accordingly.
The Andaluz musical literature consists of eleven noubas, nearly all of which were in existence long before the Moroccans were ejected from Spain at the end of the Fifteenth Century. The texts were written by the poets involved at various times during the occupation of Spain, which lasted roughly seven centuries (from the Ninth through the Fifteenth.) Each nouba was conceived of as corresponding to a particular bodily humor (very much in accordance with the medieval European idea of the humors.) furthermore each nouba is composed in a mode suitable to a different time of day, and each nouba consists of five sections. The generic term for one of these sections is misane. A misane is subdivided into an indeterminate number of parts, each of which is a complete piece; there is a sense of progression and continuity, however, in these separate pieces if they are performed in sequence. The tradition is oral and has been kept intact until now. At the moment there is a tendency (a deplorable one in my opinion) to "revitalize" Andaluz music by introducing completely extraneous instruments such as the piano, the clarinet and the saxophone. The example on this tape, however, is wholly traditional. (The electric current failed briefly twice during the session.)"
Bowles, Paul F. "Fez." in Folk, Popular, and Art Music of Morocco. The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection. Washington, DC: American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, 1959-1962.
The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection (AFC 1960/001), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., Courtesy of the Paul Bowles Estate and Irene Hermann / Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies