A problem in identifying and recording
Moroccan café music is the placing of each section in its proper category. One
knows of any given material as one records it that it is café music, but what
was it before being adapted to Café purposes? Often it is impossible to get
adequate information. Bachir bel Hadj Hassan Bacali,
the proprietor of the Qahoua d’l Nadjah,
was originally a garage mechanic who loved music. One day, some two years ago,
he decided to devote himself wholly to music. His two-story café in the Medina
is rather like a museum of usable instruments; they hang all over the walls,
and he himself has attained a remarkable proficiency playing most of them.
Like most musicians in Morocco who are untrained but who have an urban background, he favors innovation; this generally implies of forsaking of the melodic and rhythmic materials of Morocco for those of Egypt, and in certain instances, (Bacali’s own composition Ya en Nass Khaïf, 18A, no. 3, and Rax el Atlas, his arrangement of a popular song by Abdelqader Arrochedi,* 17B no. 2,)* the material is hybrid. But the fact that it was possible to get such selections from him and his group as the Djavaliya on this real, for example, is testimony to his basic sympathy with traditional Moroccan music.
Djavalia (banjo, kamenja, oud, darbouka and tar.)
(The banjo is Moroccan-made)
Note: It should be added that the folk material from which the music of 17A, 17B, and 18A springs is that of the Djebal whose musical capital is neither Tetuan nor Arcila, but a fairly inaccessible place about halfway between them called Beni Aroz.
* Which in turn is a modern version of an old, well-known folksong.
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