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
"Abdelkrim Rais recorded these selections in a room of the Musée du Batha in Fez, only after extensive arrangements made by telephone with the government in Rabat. There was an extraordinary atmosphere of secrecy and intrigue connected with the arrangements for recording Andaluz music in Fez, something which I had not met in any form until then. A special advisor had to be sent from the capital before any recordings could be made. It was he who set the prices, the hours, the places and the conditions for recording. He also specified that each time Abdelkrim's name was mentioned in print, the following words must be added: "through the courtesy of the Services des Monuments Historiques, des Arts et du Folklore, Conservatoire de Fès.
The mode in which the nouba "El Hgaz el Mcharqi" is composed is one for use at midday. Naturally, since it would take some ten or eleven hours to play through one nouba, only small parts of any given nouba are performed at one time; the most which is ever done is a complete misane. This I heard in Fez in 1931, but it is not the custom nowadays to perform anything which goes on for such a long time without a break.
As an experiment, played 26B and 27A, performed at about an hour’s interval, simultaneously on two different tape-recorders, and was astonished to find that for long periods they sounded as one. In certain spots the tempo of 27A is slightly faster; otherwise they are identical in every respect, save of course that 26B contains only the overture and a part of the opening of the misane "Qoddam".
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