Gnawa music: a Moroccan mystery

Gnawa musicians
From the red city of ancient Marrakech to the blue streets of Chefchaouen one thing you will not miss are the abundance of ‘Gnawa’ musicians. There is a world of mystery surrounding the origin of this revered and celebrated art form. Moroccan’s agree that it originated from the southern reaches of the Saharan deserts but there is much dispute as to how and who originally brought this form of music to Morocco. One thing that is certain is that Gnawa has spread like wildfire through all four corners of the country. So much so, that native Moroccans with a keen ear for Gnawa can tell the origin of a musician by slight variations in style and performance in the same way as ¬†Darija Arabic accent. One feature that unifies all Gnawa musicians are the iron rattles or ‘karkabas’ that are often used to keep the beat as this alluring sound fills the streets.

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