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.
Music of the Southern Djebala (8 guinbris, tchnatchn, darbouka, chorus)
Recorded by Paul Bowles at Fez, Morocco on September 25, 1959
"The first thing I noticed about the 10 men who form this ensemble when they filed into the recording room at the Musée de Batha was that they were exactly the same man to whom I used to listen in 1947 and 1948 on Friday nights when they gave gave regular concerts in another part of the palace. I should say that at that time the average age of the members of the group was 55; now they were all 12 years older, and no new faces had been added. I made a point of asking if they had any young men being trained as replacements; the reply was negative.
This is essentially Djebala music, but Djebala music which has had long contact with the civilizing influence of the city of Fez. The people of Fez consider it "country"music, and they are right; nevertheless, no country music has the sonorous richness of this country music arranged for city people's taste. Compare the Aaita Djebaliya bel Kamenja (no. 1 of 18A), which is also a taqtoqa in more rudimentary form. (The final section of a taqtoqa provides an opportunity for improvisation above an organ (sic) point on each note of the original scale.) The fault I have to find with the taqtoqa of this present tape is that the "specialist" brought from Rabat cut short the otherwise lengthy first section of the piece, for reasons best known to himself, and thereby ruin the equilibrium of the taqtoqa's form. Before the song has even established itself, we are already into the final section. The sonority, however, is gratifying. I know of no other music in Morocco where the guinbri is treated with such seriousness. There are three types used here: the hajouj, the frakh, and the souissane. The tchnatchn are finger cymbals, the same that in Tafraout are called tismanaïne.
NOTE: The apparent orthographical chaos: (djebaliya, 14B; djavaliya, 18A; djebeliya, 21B; jabaliya, 27B) is a result of my phonetic transcription of regional (and possibly personal) variations on the adjective derived from the word for mountain."
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