59B: "Rhna dial Imi n'Tanout" (Music of the Souassa)
18 December 1959; Video 2020
Performers: Rais el Hussein and His Ensemble
Recorded by Paul Bowles
At Marrakech, Morocco
December 18, 1959
"The members of this ensemble are from different parts of the Souss; they met one another and formed the group in Marrakech, where they are a daily feature of the Djemaa el Fna. Of the numbers they recorded for me, only one has a title (a generic one): the Aoulouz from Taroudant on 59A; the others bear merely the names of the towns of their origin. The words are in Tachelhit, the Berber dialect of the South of Morocco, and the music is Berber music, but one whose scalar material at some point in the past has been altered, as it has in the greater part of the music of southern Morocco,) to bring it nearer to the music of the large West African element in the population of that part of the country, rather than (as in the case of the music of the Djebala) being modified to suit the exigencies of the Arab conquerors of the north. The best example of this music seems to me to be number 1 on this tape. The recordings were made in the patio of the Maison d'Amerique, the local USIS headquarters. There was a good deal of reverberation, and on the headphones I found the general sonority poor. The harshness of the rebab and the shrillness of the naqous are always hard to record. The first three of the five recorded pieces were done with the microphone at a distance of six feet or so from the principal performer; the fourth piece with the microphone pulled back another ten feet. The last piece, on reel 60A, I recorded from inside a room giving onto the patio. Unfortunately, these changes did not produce the results I had expected; that is to say, they did on the headphones, but not on the playback. When I listened afterwards, I found that the same rule still held: on the headphones the last two sounded better, while on the loudspeaker, the first three were preferable."
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.