Asilah is in northern Morocco, approximately 30 km southwest of Tangier.
The region around Asilah has been inhabited since well before 1500 BC and Phonecian settlements in the area, but the Mulsim city know as Asila dates to the Muslim conquest and the Idrisid dynasty. It 966 the city was reconstructed by the Umayyad Caliph al-Hakim II. In 1471 the Portuguese conquered the city, and it remained European sovereignty until 1691 when it was reconquered by Mulay Isma'il. He built two of the cities mosques, a madrasa and hammam.
In the 19th century the city was bombarded by the Austrians in 1829 and the Spanish in 1860. Asilah was also an important fiefdom of the Rifi leader Mulay Ahmad al-Raisuni, who was named Pasha of the region in 1906. Spain occupied Asilah in 1911, and it reverted to Moroccan control with most of northern Morocco when the Protectorate ended in 1956. Restored in 1978, Asilah is a resort town and a major tourist attraction. It is best known for its annual arts festival that attracts major international talent, including graphic artists who use the city's walls as a canvas.
Sources: Guiguet-Bologne, Philippe. Un guide de Tanger et de sa région. Tangier: Philip Guiguet Bologne, 1996.
Roca, Juan, Ramon. Tangier and its surroundings. Alicante, Spain: Roca Vincente-Franquiera, 2011.
"In number 1, I was beset by a problem which constantly cropped up during recordings, and which so far I have not I have not been able to deal with successfully. Moroccan folk-music is overwhelmingly percussive, it is true, as is most African music, but this ought not to mean that melody is therefore inaudible. However, it generally is nearly that, whether one is listening from afar or from nearby, and this means that any recording of it will also show the enormous disparity of volume between the rhythm and melody sections. If one reseats the musicians so the the drums are further from the microphone, the men, not neophytes to recording techniques, automatically modify their dynamics in order to maintain the same relationship of percussion to melody. The inescapable conclusion is that for them the drums must predominate, and that melody is dependent for its effect on a heavy foundation of insistent rhythm. This is the way it always sounds and performance, and the way it seems destined to sound recordings as well
‘Forhou bel Malik Jana’ is a way of saying ‘We’re Happy Happy the King Came Back to Us.’ Haouziya Chaabiya is a generic title literally meaning popular house the the king came back to us. ‘ Popular’ is a word with a new meaning in Morocco; it refers to time, and means ‘contemporary.’ The present day in Morocco could be called the Chaabiya Era; ‘the people’ are conscious of themselves as an entity for peculiar to the region of Marrakech. Any piece from the repertory of the musicians of the Haouz is called a haouziya."
Bowles, Paul F. "Arcila." from 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