Main Index Blog Intro


There are almost as many Gnawa styles as

ancestral cities which feature their sound.

Gharbaoui, Shamali resonates from the north.

Soussi and Casaoui (Casablanca),

Marrakchi (Marrakech)-style

originates in central Morocco and through to the South.

Gnawa of Ganga, Lalla Krima/

Mimouna live in the Sahara

/southeast, play tbal and karkabou, plus

have their separate zawiyas from

Gnawa of Bilal (Music of the Gnawa of Morocco, pg. 30).

They play until dusk, because only

maalems can lead possession.

It's absolutely amazing.

Musicians from Simo Errebbaa,

Bnat Gania,  Samir LanGus

Maalems Mahmoud Gania, Hamid el

Kasri to Abdelkebir Merchane,

Abdelouhed and Rida Stitou fuse styles as they create

further Gnawa fusion all its own.

Diaspora nuances music!


An audial median exists between the player and spiritual world.

But apply the same logic to regional sounds.

Abderrahmane Kirouche, or Maalem Paco played Casaoui and

Marsaoui because he was from Essaouira, but learned tourka

(Gnawa custom) from Maalem Benthami

Some cities are in central Morocco, so they may

borrow from Shamali (North), their own style

Marsaoui (Essaouira) or even Soussia (South)

(Gnawa: Music and Spirit).

You learn over time.

Guembri strumming and instrumental arrangement

is more melodic call-response in the Shamali style

which resonates through northern Morocco.

Gnawa music progresses into more percussive modes

as you follow the route back to Marrakech,

a Moroccan gate toward West Africa (Brussels Studies).


The Boussous hail from Casablanca, and chill

me with their effortless tagnaouite.

Abdelkader and Abderrahim Benthami are

also masters in the Casaoui style.

Maalem Sam and Abdelkader Benthami

Abdenbi el Gadari moved to Casablanca

after life as a Marrakech musician.

This is a 2007 interview with Maalem Hmida.

Remember how Gnawa came from Hausaland and northeastern Niger?

'Houssa/Dutiwa' tells the tragic tale with redemption from Allah,

plus spirits we have learned to love.

Duti is 'drum player' in Zaranda, a language

in modern-day Bauchi State, Nigeria near

Lake Chad (ResearchGate).

Foulani refers to the Fula tribes who live there too.

Ahmed wisely noted that pan-African

diasporic connections like that

with Randy Weston would bring Gnawa further into the future.

"The Gnawa is an honorable calling.

I trust and hope that Gnaouism will continue to flourish

and gain respect of the public,

which is often uninformed about it.

Then, there is the guenbri we must get to know.

Meeting Randy Weston has done much to

promote the instrument and its music, in general."

(Dar Gnawa)

Hassan Boussou is quite the virtuoso.

Asmaa Hamzaoui, Bnat Timbouktou and

father Maalem Rachid play

Casablanca's style: a blend of North, Central and South.

'Ftouh Rahba' encompasses medieval Moroccan markets

which sold everything from Gnawa's ancestors to jawi,

zmeita, the same goods you find in today's souks.

And it also welcomes al-mlouk as a lila's opening...


We travel now to Fes and hear Innov Gnawa!

They are a traditional group with Maalem

Ben Jaafar (Fes), Nawfal Atiq,

Samir LanGus (Agadir), Ahmed Jeriouda, Amino

Belyamani, Said Bourhana.

Want to hear Gnawa's roots?

Innov Gnawa performed at Bnai Israel Synagogue three years ago,

the Sebityin suite which has great worth as a nubat

(musical suite within Gnawa ceremonies).

These include songs from ancient Moroccan

Jewish bonds with Muslims who broke bread with them

during Passover/Mimouna.

Read the history here,

and listen to Samir's sintir expertise!


Famous Bakbou (Ahmed and Mustapha) maalems were born here.

Maalems Abbas Baska, Abdenbi el Gadari,

Abdelkebir Merchane, all Marrakchi!

Mustapha Essghir featured on Gnawa and

Diasporic African Power, and played with

Baska! Download and/or listen to

Mufaja'at Elmoussem here, featuring

Mustapha "Sam" Essghir, Abbas Baska and Abdenbi Binizi.

Maalem Mustapha Sam - Dutiwa/Ghumami

Daqa Marrakchiyya appears in Gnawa often,

and from rhythmic clapping we love

to their blaring, brassy horns,

Marrakech has an incredible style of music.

Expect ghayta (link).

Listen to Maalem Ahmed Bakbou,

Abdelkebir Merchane and co. at a lila.


 The Gania family (Maalems Abdellah,

Houssam, Mahmoud, Mokhtar) plays this instantly

recognizable style in Gnawa.

Maalem Paco, Nass el Ghiwane's founder

and lead singer, did as well, as you read earlier.

He became a master by 16 years old!

Marsaoui describes Essaouira's sound.

The Gania family has heritage from Mali and Senegal.

They are healers in various fields for generations.


Enjoy Maalem Abdenbi el Fakir, known as Maalem

Abdenbi el Meknassi (the one from Meknes)!

This is his album Swakn, worth endless listening

for its ability to place you there with him.


Rabati Maalem Abdelkader Amlil's

rendition of 'Hamdouchia'.

Maalem Si Mohamed Chaouqi is Rabati!

He was quite the spirit master, who

loved to play Gnawa with his

family and Les Gnawa du Maroc, even Jimi Hendrix

(Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Global Trance...)

Check out Simo Errebbaa's Rabat mastery.

He is a long-time friend, and we would be less humble,

knowledgeable without them. Shokran bzzaf, koyo.

This is Simo here!


Maalem Abdellah El Gourd is unbelievably talented

in his preservation of Gnawa music and artistic communication.

Maalem Abdellah Boulkhair El Gourd

"Abdullah Al-Gourd, he was very interested

in the history of his people.

Because of him, I recorded and I met some of the old Gnawa.

I met Gnawa who were 80 and 90

years old, who remember were walking

across the Sahara desert." (Art Works)

Dar Gnawa interview, 2016

He taught us much within his lifespan

that otherwise would be forgotten.

Don't take our word for it!

Listen to Maalem El Gourd himself.

Hamid El Kasri learned from Maalem

Abdelouhed Stitou while in Tangier.

Stitou migrated to Belgium and began a new

troupe there with his son too, Rida.

Maalems Abdelwahad and Rida "Stitou" Barrady

(middle) and Gnawa de Bruxelles

We gotta respect Gharbaoui.


The Draa is a beautiful, powerful river which flows from

northern Morocco through mountains to Saharan sands.

Hear 'Soussia' by late Casablanca Maalem Hmida Boussou.

The valley is particularly significant since more oases

exist here than much of Morocco (or northern Africa).

This nourishes everyone from High Atlas citizens

to Ismkhan, darker-skinned Amazigh communities

in Errachidia, Khamlia, Merzouga and Tizounine.

These are Ismkhan Gnawa, of Lalla Mimouna.

Khawa was the median oasis between

Marrakech, Tagheza and

Tombouctou ([Notes sur L'histoire des

Populations du Sud Marocain]).

Both guembri-playing Gnawa (of Sidi

Bilal) and Gnawa of Ganga

have a beautiful, percussive, Tamazight-influenced style.

Wherever Gnawis go, their music IS communion.


The Gnawa Musicians in Brussels: A Cultural Reorganisation   Dekka El Marrakchia   Gnaoua Music Festival   Africa From The Twelfth to the Sixteenth Century

Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the New Muslim Youth Culture   The Festive Sacred and the Fetish of Trance   The Gnawa World Music Festival in Essaouira