Tetouan is located in the Rif mountains of northern Morocco, just over 60 km east of Tangier. The area has been inhabited at least since the Roman era, as evidenced by the ruins of the Roman city of Tamuda located nearby. The medina of Tetouan is approximately 10 km from the Mediterranean Coast. Fortification have existed in the area since the 8th century onwards. The town as it exists today rose to prominence with the arrival of Andalusian refugees expelled by the Spanish in the 11th century.
“This group of musicians, comprising five men, was from a small village in the foothills of the Rif, called El Khemiss Tifraoun. The proprietor of the Qahoua d’l Nadjah, Bachir eI Hadj Hassan Bacali, gathered them together for me and provided us with a private sala in his café where we made the recordings. I had demurred at first, thinking that it would be better to pass through the region of the Rhmara and get the music in situ, but changed my mind when I was told that there would be no electricity there.
The Rhmara are a small tribe of Berber-speaking people surrounded on all sides by Arabized Berbers.
Bowles, Paul F. "Tetouan." 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