Performers: Members of the Family of the Chorfa of Ouezzane
Recorded by Paul Bowles at Ouezzane, Morocco.
September 29, 1959.
"This is a qsida, characterized by my host as el melhoun, and entitled El Hajja. The qsida Existed in North Africa before the arrival in the Seventh Century of the first Moslems; it attained its persistent character, however, comparatively recently, sometime around the Fifteenth Century, when it became the favorite vehicle of song for the common people of Morocco who had not the education to appreciate the subtleties of Andaluz music, (whose tests are in classical Arabic.) The qsida of the present day is Moghrebi, or vulgar Arabic. (In Spain the form is still known, goes by the name of casida.) The word el melhoun actually signifies the language in which the text is composed, a colloquial poetic tongue which can be neither written nor spoken, and exist solely for this particular purpose. El Hejja, The title of the piece, ((created by Abdelhadi Bennani of Fez) means that it is a description of a pilgrimage the author made to Mecca.
To the Western listener, the musical idiom is frankly Andaluz, in spite of the fact that the Moroccans, because of the difference in language of the text, see no resemblance between the two. (Here it is the words that make the music. "What is that piece?" "I don't know. It has no words. How can I tell?" Or in the Rif, I objected "but I already have that piece." "Oh, no, you haven't."I play it; It is identical. "But that's not the same piece. That's in Riffian. this one has a chorus in Arabic." "But the musics exactly the same. it's the same music. I don't want to record it again."Long-suffering patients in the face of my incredible stupidity. "How could it be the same music if it's in a different language?")
Bowles, Paul F. "Ouezzane" 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