43A: "Maalem Taieb ben Mbarek" (Music of the Haouz)
1959 November 1; Video
Performers: Maalem Taieb ben Mbarek and Cheikhats
Recorded by Paul Bowles
At Marrakech, Morocco
November 1, 1959
A day or so after making the first recordings of Haouziya music with the Maalem Taieb ben Mbarek, I met him in the Djemaa el Fna, and he suggested making some tapes of Haouziya music using cheikhats.(Cheikhats are professional female entertainers; their status is something akin to that of the erstwhile geishas in Japan. They sing dance, play, converse, serve tea, and in general act the part of hostesses whose sole concern is that of entertaining the male client. Since the abolition of brothels in Morocco, their civil status has become equivocal and their prices have gone considerably higher, since now they are the only prostitutes allowed to entertain in their own establishments in the former tradition, all the rest having been forced into the streets to earn their living... The Maalem Taieb was fearful of police interference, but since I had originally had him convoked by a mokhazni sent by the Khalifa of the Pacha, he finally agreed to bring three women to the U.S.I.S. in Marrakech, where I had made his earlier recordings, without my having to go through the official formalities again. The women were immobile throughout the session, standing in a corner of the patio tapping their tarijas while they sang.)The Maalem sat at some distance playing his violin, while the man who had been described by him as having the best male voice, (because it was the voice most like a woman's ) stood with the women and led them with his own high-pitched singing. Two of the women played tarijas; one had a set of three tiny brass finger cymbals; the male singer played tarija; the Maalem played kamenja.
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.