Located on the Atlantic Coast approximately 90 km south of the capital city Rabat, Casablanca is the largest city, not only in Morocco, but the Maghreb. It is the nation's chief port, and the business and financial center of the country.
Originally known as Anfa, the city of Casablanca started out as a small settlement. It was renamed Casa Branca by the Portuguese who took control of the city in 1468 CE/872 AH. They rebuilt the city and changed its name to "Casa Branca" Like Casablanca, a term that came into use when Portugal became part of the Spanish Kingdom, it means "White House." In 1755/1168 AH the city was largely destroyed by an earthquake and abandoned by the European population. It was rebuilt by Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah, during whose reign the harbor became essential to sugar, tea, wool, and other trade. From 1912 to 1956 the city was part of the French Protectorate, who continued to use the Spanish name. The first governor, Marshal Lyautey developed the ambitious plan to may the city the economic capital of Morocco. In 1953 Michel Écochard devised a linear extension plan that would stretch between the ports of Casablanca and Mohammedia.
The low buildings of the medina contrast starkly with the skyscrapers of the new city. According to the World Population Review, the 2015 population of the city itself was significantly over 3 million, with the population of the metropolitan area being estimated at approximately 5 million.
Cheikha Fatoma Bent Kaddour Ensemble-Sagous Touit Idar Ayardanou
1959, Video 2015
"Recorded by Paul Bowles. At Ain ed Diab, Morocco. August l, 1959 Performers: A group of fourteen women and two men. Four of the women played benadir (singular bendir) as they sang; the men also sang and played benadir. The bendir is an open drum about fifteen inches in diameter, with wooden sides five or six inches high; the membrane covers only one end. The women without drums use hand-clapping to accentuate the rhythm or to make cross-rhythms. This music is essentially dance music; there is often a more or less lengthy prelude to the actual dance, however. In the recordings made at Ain ed Diab only the women danced, in groups of twos and fives. The leader of this group (all of whom are from Ain Leuh in the Middle Atlas) is Cheikha.Fatoma bent Kaddour. (The tribe is the Beni Mguild)
"The part singing in number 2 is curious, in that the intention is clear to end each phrase with an augmented fourth. The Ain Leuh group seemed to have trouble with words. In number 2 they stopped suddenly, talked together for a moment, and then resumed. This difficulty may have to do with the fact that the folk repertories have been examined and censored by the government since the beginning of independence. Many of the present texts are new."
Source: Bowles, Paul F. 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