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Music of the Gnawa of Morocco : evolving spaces and times Sum, Maisie 2012

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MUSIC OF THE GNAWA OF MOROCCO: EVOLVING SPACES AND TIMES  by  Maisie Sum  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES  (Music)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  April 2012  © Maisie Sum, 2012  Abstract  The Gnawa are a sub-Saharan-Berber-Islamic society found throughout Morocco with origins in sub-Saharan Africa and slavery. Their music invokes supernatural entities during an all-night ritual for purposes such as healing. Despite being marginalized for their ritual beliefs and practices, Gnawa music has become popular and is increasingly performed in secular contexts alongside sacred rituals. The aims of my dissertation are threefold: to analyze the Gnawa ritual with regard to structure, process and function; to investigate how Gnawa music is context-sensitive; and building on the first two points, to assess the impact of global forces on Gnawa ritual and music, and on its practitioners. My research imparts a musical dimension to the study of the Gnawa sacred ritual and to its secularized form, and engages in comparative analysis of improvised musical practices which articulate a dialogue with an evolving tradition. The inquiry draws primarily from my affiliation with a hereditary Gnawa family. In the first part I examine the world of the Gnawa and their music. This elucidates the habitus that informs the perception of social situations and gives meaning to the musical expression of ritual musicians. The second part investigates patterns and behaviors embedded in sonic structures of varied performances and correlates subtle differences in musical variations to performative intent. By first investigating the interaction between music and dance in a sacred ritual, then analyzing contrasting performances, I demonstrate how the Gnawa musical system operates as a referent to context and to mental activity (cognitive processes). Drawing on discourse of the African diaspora, I challenge the notion that the shift from the  ii  practice of ritual music for the local community to the performance of ritual music in festivals worldwide supports a concurrent shift towards desecration. Instead, Gnawa ritual musicians establish distinct spheres of practice which delineate the sacred from the secular.  iii  Preface  A version of Chapter 7 appears in an article titled “Staging the Sacred: Musical Structure and Processes of the Gnawa Lila in Morocco,” in Ethnomusicology: Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Volume 55 (1), Winter 2011. I am the sole author of the publication. Passages from the article have also been incorporated throughout the dissertation. Permission to reprint has been granted by the Society for Ethnomusicology. My research was conducted with the approval of the Behavioural Research Ethics Board, Certificate Number H07-00490. All photos and recordings (audio and video), unless otherwise noted, were taken and made by the author. Original and modified versions of figures published in the journal are indicated in the caption. I use a minimum of Arabic terms and have simplified their usage. I employ mainly the singular form, add a hyphenated ‘s’ for plural forms in most cases, and drop the use of articles entirely for stand alone words. I modify Harrell’s (2006) system of transliteration. I use ‘gh’ in place of ‘x,’ drop the use of all symbols including dots and lines below and above letters, and substitute ‘a for ‫ع‬. Conventional uses (written and spoken) of place names and proper names are followed, and I am faithful to the transliterations in cited passages. I have translated sources written in the French language and conversations conducted in French and Moroccan Arabic, and bear full responsibility of any errors.  iv  Table of Contents Abstract ..................................................................................................................................... ii Preface ..................................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents ...................................................................................................................... v List of Figures ........................................................................................................................ viii List of Audio and Video Examples ....................................................................................... xvi Acknowledgements............................................................................................................... xvii Chapter 1 Introduction ............................................................................................................. 1 1.1 Initial Encounters ............................................................................................................ 1 1.2 Gnawa Preliminaries ...................................................................................................... 8 1.2.1 Who are the Gnawa? ............................................................................................. 10 1.2.2 Beliefs and Practices .............................................................................................. 14 1.2.3 Music Basics .......................................................................................................... 18 1.3 Gnawa Scholarship and Beyond ................................................................................... 23 1.4 Approaches to Gnawa Music........................................................................................ 27 1.4.1 Conceptual Tools ................................................................................................... 27 1.4.2 Fieldwork ............................................................................................................... 30 1.5 Dissertation Overview .................................................................................................. 35 Chapter 2 Gnawa Beliefs, Symbols, and Meaning ................................................................ 39 2.1 Introduction................................................................................................................... 39 2.2 Ideological Framework ................................................................................................. 40 2.2.1 Islamic Reverence and Reference .......................................................................... 42 2.2.2 Gnawa Pantheon .................................................................................................... 45 2.2.3 Significance of Lila and Derdeba .......................................................................... 47 2.3 Music’s Affective and Effective Code ......................................................................... 50 2.4 Mythical Structure, Ritual Process, and Ritualization .................................................. 54 Chapter 3 Gnawa Social Structure, Identity, and Context..................................................... 64 3.1 Social Structure and Identity ........................................................................................ 64 3.1.1 Leaders and Assistants ........................................................................................... 65 3.1.2 A Loosely Centralized Organization ..................................................................... 68 3.1.3 Membership, Transmission, and Training ............................................................. 70 3.1.4 Obligations and Ritual Roles ................................................................................. 78 3.1.5 Recent Changes ..................................................................................................... 85 3.2 Social Context of Gnawa and Their Music in Morocco ............................................... 93 3.2.1 Origins: Real, Imagined, and Constructed ............................................................. 95 3.2.2 Efficacious Healers .............................................................................................. 101 3.2.3 A Marginalized Practice: Contrasts with Sufi and Other Trance Rituals ............ 103 v  3.2.4 Secularization and Popularity .............................................................................. 111 3.2.5 A Secret Society .................................................................................................. 119 Chapter 4 Musical Structure ................................................................................................ 124 4.1 Instruments, Timbre, and Strings ............................................................................... 124 4.2 Tuning, Pitch, and Scale ............................................................................................. 128 4.2.1 Tuning .................................................................................................................. 128 4.2.2 Pitch ..................................................................................................................... 131 4.2.3 Scale..................................................................................................................... 135 4.3 Time I: General Features ............................................................................................ 137 4.3.1 Regulating Pulse .................................................................................................. 138 4.3.2 Durational Framework, Values, and Rhythmic Features..................................... 145 4.4 Motivic Structures ...................................................................................................... 151 4.4.1. Icon ..................................................................................................................... 152 4.4.2 Oum...................................................................................................................... 156 4.4.3 Dance and Cadence ............................................................................................. 160 4.4.4 Variations and Sequencing Rules ........................................................................ 163 4.5 Time II: Polyrhythm and Periodicity .......................................................................... 178 4.6 Formal Structure: Macro-Periodicities ....................................................................... 184 4.6.1 Sections ................................................................................................................ 184 4.6.2 Grouping and Cycles ........................................................................................... 188 Chapter 5 Gnawa Music Performance: Sacred and Secular Structures ............................... 193 5.1 Performance Occasions .............................................................................................. 194 5.1.1 Essaouira and the Gania Family .......................................................................... 196 5.2 Setting for the Sacred Lila and Gnaoua Festival........................................................ 199 5.2.1 Personages ........................................................................................................... 199 5.2.2 Duration and Location ......................................................................................... 210 5.2.3 Spatial, Visual, and Audio Arrangements ........................................................... 212 5.3 Performance Structure and Procedure ........................................................................ 219 5.3.1 Pre-Possession Acts ............................................................................................. 223 5.3.2 Possession Act ..................................................................................................... 230 Chapter 6 Music for the Unseen: Interaction between Two Realms ................................... 248 6.1 Introduction................................................................................................................. 248 6.2 Methodology ............................................................................................................... 251 6.3 Sidi Musa .................................................................................................................... 252 6.3.1 The Musawiyin Suite ........................................................................................... 252 6.3.2 Musical Mottoes .................................................................................................. 255 6.3.3 Trance and Music Progression............................................................................. 256 vi  6.4 Embodying Sidi Musa ................................................................................................ 262 6.4.1 Macro-Analysis: Musical Form, Dance Progression, and Dynamics of Trance . 262 6.4.2 Micro-Analysis: Musical Motives to Mimetic Dance Gestures .......................... 272 6.5 Synthesis ..................................................................................................................... 288 6.5.1 Musical Progression............................................................................................. 288 6.5.2 Motivic Considerations........................................................................................ 291 6.5.3 Contextual Considerations ................................................................................... 294 Chapter 7 Staging the Sacred: Musical Structure and Processes ......................................... 297 7.1 Introduction................................................................................................................. 297 7.2 Methodology ............................................................................................................... 299 7.3 Sidi Mimun and Lalla Mimuna ................................................................................... 302 7.3.1 Flexibility of a Prescribed Order ......................................................................... 305 7.4 Musical Processes of “Ghumami” .............................................................................. 307 7.4.1 Motivic Structures ............................................................................................... 307 7.4.2 Micro-Analysis of Motivic Structures ................................................................. 310 7.4.3 Macro-Analysis of Motivic Structures ................................................................ 316 7.5 Synthesis ..................................................................................................................... 321 Chapter 8 Conclusions ......................................................................................................... 327 Bibliography ......................................................................................................................... 336  vii  List of Figures Figure 1.1 Medina wall in Essaouira. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ....................................... 2 Figure 1.2 a) M‘allem Mahmoud (center, with blazer) and his family in Mie Jima. b) Backstage at the World Sacred Music Festival with M‘allem Mahmoud (in red), his son on his left, his brother-in-law behind, and a family friend in the foreground. (Photograph s by Maisie Sum) ......................................................... 3 Figure 1.3 Map of Morocco. .................................................................................................... 9 Figure 1.4 Moqaddema Zaida’s (center) daughters and nieces with husband Si Mohammed (far right). (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ....................................... 33 Figure 2.1 Hierarchy of the supernatural and its relation with the temporal realm enacted by the Gnawa belief system. ............................................................................. 43 Figure 2.2 Colors, leaders, domain and affiliation of the salihin and mluk. ......................... 46 Figure 2.3 Proportion of ritual dedicated to the mluk. While the possession portion is shown here to be twice as long as the pre-possession, it may last three or four times longer depending on the ritual situation. The three textured blocks correspond to the three acts of the ceremony that are distinguished by instrumentation, repertoire, dance and function. Note that the pre-possession portion comprises two acts. ............................................................................... 49 Figure 2.4 Mythical structure. ............................................................................................... 57 Figure 2.5 Binary oppositions extracted from the mythical structure (Levi-Strauss 1963) and ritual process (Turner 1969) of the Gnawa lila. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) .............. 58 Figure 2.6 Macro- and micro- level of Turner’s ritual stages as embodied in the lila. ......... 59 Figure 3.1 Moqaddema as mediator between spirits and humans, and patients and m‘allem-s. .......................................................................................................... 65 Figure 3.2 The Gania family tree. .......................................................................................... 68 Figure 3.3 Zaouia Sidna Bilal. (Photographs by Maisie Sum) .............................................. 69 Figure 3.4 The Gania family and instruments of Gnawa music. a) M‘allem Mahmoud playing the guembri, a 3-stringed bass lute with his sons Hamza (left) and Houssam (right) on qraqab, b) M‘allem Abdallah (behind, on tbel) and (from left to right) his nephews Abdelatif and Hamani, and his brother-in-law Si Mohammed, c) Moqaddema Zaida (center) behind the seniya (main instrument of female Gnawa ensemble) with daughters Saida (on her right), Nada (to her left, in the corner), ‘Aisha (to her far left, with elbow on cousin’s lap) and her nieces. (Photographs by Maisie Sum) ............................. 72 Figure 3.5 Moqaddema Zaida (second from the left) with her daughters and nieces ready to perform. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ......................................................... 75 Figure 3.6 Moqaddema Zaida buying her bull for Sha‘ban at the Heddera market (2007). (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ............................................................................. 79 Figure 3.7 Nourishing the guembri with incense. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) .................. 82 Figure 3.8 Haddarat Zaida Gania performing at the 2009 Chrib Attay Festival in Essaouira. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)............................................................ 87  viii  Figure 3.9 M‘allem Mahmoud and group members rehearsing for their collaborative performance at the 2001 Gnaoua and World Music Festival. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ....................................................................................................... 92 Figure 3.10 Sufi and Gnawa practices. Contrasts between function, type of trance and musical elements. ............................................................................................. 105 Figure 3.11 Communicative goal of music in Sufi and Gnawa practices. .......................... 108 Figure 3.12 Sound check at Place Moulay Hassan during the 2009 Gnaoua Festival. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ........................................................................... 114 Figure 3.13 M‘allem Mokhtar performing at Sofitel with two qarqabiya. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ..................................................................................................... 117 Figure 4.1 Guembri. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ................................... 125 Figure 4.2 Qraqab. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ................................................................ 125 Figure 4.3 Guembri illustrating string number, name and fingerings. ................................ 128 Figure 4.4 Correlation between strings, fingerings, pitches, and cipher equivalents. Pitches were measured using an electronic tuner. Note that the octave interval may not add up to 1200 cents. because of the relative tuning, pitches may be slightly flatter or sharper and result in a smaller or larger value. Based on the average intervallic spacing above, the octave is equivalent to 1212 cents. N.B. Finger position 1-A is situated closest to the end of the neck. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ........................................................................................... 129 Figure 4.5 Guembri tunings of M‘allem Abdallah. Pitches were measured using an electronic tuner. ............................................................................................... 130 Figure 4.6 Msawi played by a) M‘allem Abdallah (Audio 4.1), and b) M‘allem Mahmoud (Audio 4.2, half a step higher than notation). Pitches (in cipher notation) placed in brackets signify a shorter time span between notes. Like shaded boxes represent same pitches or similar melodic phrases. ............................... 134 Figure 4.7 Ghumami pitch set in two performances by M‘allem Abdallah. ....................... 136 Figure 4.8 The Gnawa scale (shaded block illustrates the pitch set of respective pieces). . 136 Figure 4.9 Overview of rhythmic elements. ........................................................................ 138 Figure 4.10 Q1 pattern. ........................................................................................................ 140 Figure 4.11 Q2 pattern. ........................................................................................................ 140 Figure 4.12 Qarqaba patterns in the Gnawa possession repertoire and their succession in each suite (based on my research with the Gania family and several other recordings). For example, Q2-Q1-Q2 signifies that a group of pieces are supported by Q2, followed by another group accompanied by Q1, and a final group with Q2. Note that sequential variations may arise due to regional interpretations and other factors associated with a particular ritual situation. . 142 Figure 4.13 Succession of Q-patterns in the suites a) Mulay Abdelqader Jilali and b) Sidi Mimun and Lalla Mimuna. .............................................................................. 143 Figure 4.14 Mutation of a) Q2 to Q2' and b) Q1 to Q1'. ..................................................... 144 Figure 4.15 Standard repeat unit of guembri motives illustrating binary and ternary subdivisions. .................................................................................................... 146 Figure 4.16 Temporal frameworks in the suites a) Mulay Abdelqader Jilali and b) Sidi Mimun and Lalla Mimuna. .............................................................................. 147 ix  Figure 4.17 Rhythmic values and features. ......................................................................... 149 Figure 4.18 Accentuations on Lalla Mimuna: Dynamic accents on the initial onset of Lalla Mimuna (mm. 1, 4), and durational accents (lahsor, marked by boxes) (m.1, 2) which delay the usual dynamic accent of pulse 1 to pulse 2 (m.2). ... 150 Figure 4.19 Unitary morphology in shorter guembri motives such as Lalla Mimuna’s oum. ................................................................................................................. 151 Figure 4.20 The structure of icon-motives illustrated in pieces of the Gnawa possession repertoire. ......................................................................................................... 153 Figure 4.21 Scales in select possession repertoire illustrating the presence of an “extra” pitch: a) Mulay Abdelqader Jilali, b) Sidi Mimun and Lalla Mimuna. Note that the numbers in parentheses next to “pentatonic” indicate the presence or absence of pitches. For example, (6, -1) signifies the presence of pitch 6 rather than pitch 7, and the “absence” of the lowest pitch. .............................. 154 Figure 4.22 An “extra” pitch in Lalla Mimuna’s icon: a) pitch set, b) pitch 6 as passing tone (pulse 2) and substitute for pitch 7 (pulse 8), and c) as a neighbor tone (pulse 3). .......................................................................................................... 155 Figure 4.23 Oum-s illustrating pitch set and period. ........................................................... 156 Figure 4.24 Multiple oum-s. ................................................................................................ 158 Figure 4.25 Oum-s common to the Gnawa possession repertoire. ...................................... 159 Figure 4.26 Derivation of the oum from the icon. a) The B portion of the icon becomes the oum in Jilali Rasul Allah, and b) The A portion of the icon becomes the oum in Bu Hala. ............................................................................................... 160 Figure 4.27 The dance motives of a) Ghumami and b) Ya Rasul Allah. ............................ 161 Figure 4.28 Cadential motive and its variants performed by M‘allem Abdallah (AG) and M‘allem Mokhtar (MoG). N.B. In d) pitch 1 is B1, and in e) it is D2. ........... 162 Figure 4.29 Variants on Lalla Mimuna’s icon during vocal invocation maintain the overall contour and periodicity of the structure. Recurring pitches and their combinations are shaded in like colors. ........................................................... 165 Figure 4.30 Paradigmatic plots of Lalla Mimuna’s oum illustrating the number of iterations of each variant as performed by M‘allem Abdallah (AG) and M‘allem Mahmoud (MG). ............................................................................... 166 Figure 4.31 Alternative endings and beginnings in Lalla Mimuna’s motives: a) icon-icon: same ending (mm. 5–6), icon-oum: icon ending (m. 6, pulse 8) modified to the oum ending (m. 7, pulse 2)/oum unchanged (m. 7); b) oum-oum: same ending (mm. 12–14), oum-icon: oum ending (mm. 14–15) modified melodically to icon ending (m. 16, pulse 8)/icon unchanged (m. 16); c) iconoum: icon ending unchanged (m. 18, pulse 8)/oum beginning modified (m. 19, pulse 1). ...................................................................................................... 168 Figure 4.32 Polyrhythmic variation within a single periodic structure (a–f). ..................... 170 Figure 4.33 Amplification by extraction in the performance of Mimuna Rabi L‘afu by M‘allem Abdallah. ........................................................................................... 171 Figure 4.34 Amplification by extraction (Ax1), addition (Ax2) and truncation (Ax2') in the performance of Mulay Abdelqader Jilali by M‘allem Abdallah. ............... 173 Figure 4.35 Amplification by contraction (Bc) and truncation (Bcx) in the performance of Mimuna Rabi L‘afu by M‘allem Abdallah. ..................................................... 174  x  Figure 4.36 Amplification techniques for a 4-pulse motive. Note that the numerical values 1 to 4 correspond to the pulse number of the original motive and its respective cells. For example, pulse 6 of the new 8-pulse motive amplified by extraction comprises the same cell as that of the original motive’s pulse 2. “n” represents new cells. .................................................................................. 175 Figure 4.37 Transition section in which melodic variation plays a structural role. (Dawi Hali  Ydir Allah Axir Ya Mulay Abdelqader Jilali) .................................... 177 Figure 4.38 Polyrhythmic block illustrating the 4:3 cross-rhythm between the respective binary and ternary subdivisions of the motivic structure and Q1, and the 3:2 (or 2:3) hemiola of Q1. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)............................................ 179 Figure 4.39 Polyrhythmic block illustrating the 3:2 cross-rhythm between the respective ternary and binary subdivisions of the motivic structure and Q2. ................... 179 Figure 4.40 Polyrhythmic blocks illustrating how the vocal lines, guembri motives, and qarqaba pattern “partially interweave” in the a) call-and-response, and b) choral refrain during vocal invocation. N.B. The call begins one pulse before the 4-pulse grouping of the oum and Q1. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) .................... 180 Figure 4.41 Polyrhythmic block illustrating a macro 4:3 cross-rhythm between the 4pulse period and internal ternary grouping of a motive in Gnawa Baba Mimun. ............................................................................................................. 180 Figure 4.42 Macro-periodic structures in Ghumami: a) call-and-response, and b) choral refrain. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ..................................................................................... 183 Figure 4.43 Macro-periodic structures in Lalla Mimuna: a) call-and-response, and b) choral refrain. ................................................................................................... 183 Figure 4.44 Progression of Lalla Mimuna illustrating the I-V-D-T sectional periodicity: a) performed by M‘allem Abdallah during a formal recording session, b) performed by M‘allem Mahmoud during a sacred lila. The lighter and shaded blocks correspond to the icon and oum (and their variants), respectively. ...... 185 Figure 4.45 An abstract model of the musical form of an individual piece. ....................... 186 Figure 4.46 Repeat units in Gnawa music. .......................................................................... 187 Figure 4.47 An abstract model of the musical form illustrating the progression of musical parameters. N.B. N, O, P and C correspond to the icon, oum, dance, and cadential motives; and G, Q, and V to the guembri, qraqab and voice. .......... 190 Figure 5.1 Map of the Essaouira medina illustrating venues of the Gnaoua Festival......... 197 Figure 5.2 Personages in a sacred lila. ................................................................................. 200 Figure 5.3 Personages at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival........................................ 200 Figure 5.4 Appropriate audience activity and behavior during sacred and secular performances. ................................................................................................... 208 Figure 5.5 Duration and location of sacred and secular occasions. ..................................... 210 Figure 5.6 Spatial, visual, and audio arrangements in sacred and secular contexts. ........... 213 Figure 5.7 Physical positioning of musicians at sacred lila: a) M‘allem standing playing the tbel and qarqabiya during procession (Act 1); b) seated position of m‘allem playing guembri and qarqabiya next to him (Acts 2 and 3). (Photographs by Maisie Sum).......................................................................... 215 xi  Figure 5.8 Physical positioning on secular occasions: a) M‘allem Mahmoud standing on stage (2001, Mie Jima), qarqabiya seated on chairs with microphones; b) qarqabiya standing on stage and dancing in foreground, Gnawiyya (third from left) (2009, Essaouira); c) seated position at a staged lila (2006, Essaouira). (Photographs by Maisie Sum) ....................................................... 217 Figure 5.9 Ritual structure of the Gnawa lila. ..................................................................... 220 Figure 5.10 Progression of the Gnawa lila illustrating structure, musical texture, repertoire, functions, and dancers (musicians or possessed participants). T, Q, V, G, and H correspond to tbel, qraqab, voice, guembri and hands. ............... 221 Figure 5.11 Qarqabi on bended knee honoring the m‘allem and the unseen entities. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ........................................................................... 227 Figure 5.12 The structure and duration of sacred and secular occasions. ........................... 229 Figure 5.13 Pre-possession dances on stage performed by M‘allem Mahmoud and his ensemble. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) .......................................................... 229 Figure 5.14 Props placed before musicians. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) ......................... 230 Figure 5.15 The eight ritual suites of the Gnawa repertoire. ............................................... 231 Figure 5.16 A list of individual pieces during which mimetic dance may arise. ................ 237 Figure 5.17 Gestures and behaviors between experienced and inexperienced. ................... 240 Figure 5.18 Mimicking possession trance for a staged lila. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) . 245 Figure 5.19 Overall structure for sacred and secular occasions. ......................................... 246 Figure 6.1 a) Farmhouse rented by Moqaddema Haja Brika’s (left) for her lila. b) Sidi Musa performed by M‘allem Mokhtar Gania (left, on guembri) and Moqaddema Zaida Gania (right). Moqaddema Haja Brika (center). (Photograph and snapshot of video by Maisie Sum) ....................................... 250 Figure 6.2 Musical pieces and sequencing of Musawiyin. ................................................... 254 Figure 6.3 Melodic motives of Waiye Leye, Waiye Ye, and Ya Rasul Allah. (*Tuning is approximately one step higher than in Waiye Leye and Waiye Ye. Pitch 1 = C2# for the first two pieces, and D2# for the last piece.) ................................ 255 Figure 6.4 Rouget’s dynamics of possession mapped to response: a) stages of trance, b) behavior of a neophyte, and c) behavior of an experienced adept. .................. 259 Figure 6.5 a) A mapping of the formal I-V-D-C scheme of Gnawa music to phases of trance progression and the ritual process; b) Expanded formal I-V-D-C scheme of Gnawa music in a sub-suite of three pieces. (N.B. I=instrumental prelude; V=vocal invocation; D=music for possession dance; T=transition; C=cadence; numerical suffixes (1, 2, 3) correspond to the number of pieces in a sub-suite and their order of performance.) ................................................ 261 Figure 6.6 Macro-processes of music, dance progression, and Rouget’s phases of trance illustrating texture, tempo, and duration of each portion. I, V, D, T and C represent the instrumental prelude, vocal invocation, instrumental dance, transition and cadence, respectively; SC corresponds to sub-climax; G, Q and V represent the guembri, qraqab and voice, respectively. ............................... 263 Figure 6.7 Dance progression in the first sequence of Sidi Musa: a) an adept covers her head with a blue-colored veil and dances facing the m’allem; b) Moqaddema Zaida balances a bowl of water on top; c) Moqaddema Zaida performs the mimetic dance of Sidi Musa. (Snapshots of video by Maisie Sum) ................ 264  xii  Figure 6.8 Instrumental prelude (I1) and vocal section (V1) of Waiye Leye. The overlapping call-and-response phrases of the first vocal cycle are similarly repeated throughout. N.B. Small and capitalized letters correspond to the solo calls and the choral response. (Audio 6.1 begins with m. 1) ................... 266 Figure 6.9 Transition from Waiye Leye (T1) to Waiye Ye (I2). (Audio 6.2 begins with m. 1) ...................................................................................................................... 267 Figure 6.10 Transition from Waiye Ye (mm. 13–34) to Ya Rasul Allah (mm. 35–40). Notes circled in red correspond to the “extra” pitch (6) introduced as anticipation to the upcoming piece. (Audio 6.3 begins with m. 13) ................ 270 Figure 6.11 Communication in the initial and second phase of possession trance.............. 271 Figure 6.12 Dance movements during Ya Rasul Allah performed by Moqaddema Zaida: a) hands to front; b) hands to back, leg up; c) front foot tap; and d) knee raise. (Snapshots of video by Maisie Sum) ...................................................... 273 Figure 6.13 Movements in the horizontal dimension: a) travel backward, b) travel forward, and c) turn on the spot. (Snapshots of video by Maisie Sum) ........... 273 Figure 6.14 Vertical positions and other spatial dimensions of Sidi Musa gestures: a) lunge, high position, 0 degrees from m’allem; b) lean on backside, low position, 135 degrees from m’allem; c) lean on pelvis, low position, 45 degrees from m’allem; and d) kneel, mid position, 135 degrees from m’allem. (Snapshots of video by Maisie Sum) ................................................ 274 Figure 6.15 Gestures associated with the dance of Sidi Musa: a) paddle arms, b) breast stroke, c) shoulder shimmy, and d) divinatory signs. (Snapshots of video by Maisie Sum) ..................................................................................................... 275 Figure 6.16 Categorization of dance gestures derived from Moqaddema Zaida’s performance of Sidi Musa. (H=high, M=middle, L=low; R=right.) *The thunderbolt posture (from the Sanskrit Vajrasana) is a sitting position in which one sits on the heels with the calves beneath the thighs. ...................... 276 Figure 6.17 A correlation between the dance gestures of Sidi Musa and Ya Rasul Allah motives observed in a performance by M‘allem Mokhtar and Moqaddema Zaida. ............................................................................................................... 278 Figure 6.18 Variations on X and Y at the start of the instrumental dance section (D3) of Ya Rasul Allah. (Video 6.1 begins with m. 8) ................................................. 281 Figure 6.19 A correlation of Y and its variations to the dance of Sidi Musa. (Video 6.2 begins five pulses before m. 299 at t≈3s; Video 6.3 begins one pulse before m. 303); Video 6.4 begins with m. 306; Video 6.5 shows the complete sequence (mm. 298–307), begins five pulses before m. 299).......................... 283 Figure 6.20 Motive Z and its variants with Sidi Musa gestures: a) paddle (Video 6.6 begins one pulse before m. 39), and b) breast stroke (Video 6.7 begins three pulses before m. 211). ...................................................................................... 285 Figure 6.21 Rare use of triplets in motive Z to support special gestures: a) movement from pelvis to backside (mm. 119, 120), and initial breast stroke (m. 123); b) hand signal for the qraqab to stop (m. 142). .................................................... 286 Figure 6.22 Progression to the cadential motive. (Video 6.8 begins with m. 321) ............. 287 Figure 6.23 M‘allem Mokhtar executes the cadential motive as the spirit lowers itself to the ground, signifying the final phase of possession trance. (Snapshot of video by Maisie Sum) ...................................................................................... 288 xiii  Figure 6.24 Mapping musical processes and dance progression to the dynamics of trance.290 Figure 6.25 Principles of variation for Ya Rasul Allah in the instrumental dance section. 293 Figure 6.26 Progression and duration of Ya Rasul Allah’s instrumental dance section (D3) during: a) a mastered trance that lasted 9 minutes and 34 seconds (performed by M‘allem Mokhtar), and b) a generic trance that lasted 1 minute and 42 seconds (performed by M‘allem Mahmoud). The lavender (light), blue (medium), and red (dark) colors (shadings) correspond to the X, Y, and Z motives, respectively. ....................................................................... 295 Figure 7.1 a) A sacred lila performed by M‘allem Abdallah (left, with guembri), b) staged lila performed at the Gnaoua and World Music Festival (June 2006, Essaouira). M‘allem Abdallah (tuning guembri) is sitting in the center with his qarqabiya on either side of him. ................................................................. 301 Figure 7.2 a) The Gnawa pantheon of supernatural entities and possible sequence of invocation during a sacred lila; b) repertoire of a staged lila performed by M‘allem Abdallah at the 2006 Gnaoua Festival; performance of the Mimum suite at c) two sacred lila-s, and at d) the staged lila of the 2006 Gnaoua Festival. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ..................................................................................... 303 Figure 7.3 Motives of Ghumami based on sacred performance (House 2006). (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ........................................................................................... 307 Figure 7.4 Excerpt of Ghumami from a sacred lila (House; August 2006) illustrating the A–C motives and their variants. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)............................................ 309 Figure 7.5 Excerpt of Ghumami from a sacred lila (House; August 2006) illustrating the D motive and its variants. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)............................................ 309 Figure 7.6 Variants of Motive A observed in both sacred (House 2006) and secular contexts, unless otherwise indicated. “Standard” A is illustrated at the top. Note that “only secular variants” exhibit a greater rhythmic density and diversity (triplets). (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) .................................................................. 311 Figure 7.7 Eleven variants of Motive B observed in the sacred context (House 2006) (B1–B11). Eight of these are also observed in the secular context (B1–B8). (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ........................................................................................... 313 Figure 7.8 Sixteen variants of Motive B observed in the secular context only. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ........................................................................................... 314 Figure 7.9 Excerpt of Ghumami from a sacred lila (House 2006) illustrating the first stream of B-variations. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) (Audio 7.1 starts one pulse before m. 96) .................................................................................................................... 315 Figure 7.10 Excerpt of Ghumami from a staged lila illustrating the first stream of Bvariations performed by M‘allem Abdallah Gania. (© Ethnomusicology,  xiv  2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) (Audio 7.2) ................................................................................................................... 316 Figure 7.11 Musical structure and events in a sacred lila performed by M‘allem Abdallah. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ........................................................................................... 317 Figure 7.12 Musical structure and events in a staged lila performed by M‘allem Abdallah. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, reprinted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.) ........................................................................................... 317 Figure 7.13 Typology of variations based on observations of A and B. ............................. 322  xv  List of Audio and Video Examples Audio 4.1 Audio 4.2 Audio 6.1 Audio 6.2  Msawi played by M‘allem Abdallah (Figure 4.6a).. .......................................... 134 Msawi played by M‘allem Mahmoud (Figure 4.6b). ......................................... 134 Instrumental prelude (I1) and vocal section (V1) of Waiye Leye (Figure 6.8). . 266 Transition from Waiye Ye (T1) to Waiye Ye (I2) performed by M‘allem Abdallah Gania (Figure 6.9). ............................................................................. 267 Audio 6.3 Transition from Waiye Ye (mm. 13–34) to Ya Rasul Allah (mm. 35–40) performed by M‘allem Abdallah Gania (Figure 6.10). ...................................... 270 Audio 7.1 Excerpt of Ghumami from a sacred lila (House, June 2006) illustrating the first stream of B-variations performed by M‘allem Abdallah Gania (Figure 7.9). ... 315 Audio 7.2 Excerpt of Ghumami from a staged lila (June 2006) illustrating the first stream of B-variations performed by M‘allem Abdallah Gania (Figure 7.10).............. 316 Video 6.1 Variations on X and Y at the start of the instrumental dance section (D3) of Ya Rasul Allah (Figure 6.18). ................................................................................. 281 Video 6.2 A correlation of Y and its variations to the dance of Sidi Musa (Figure 6.19, mm. 299–302). ................................................................................................... 283 Video 6.3 A correlation of Y and its variations to the dance of Sidi Musa (Figure 6.19; mm. 303–305). ................................................................................................... 283 Video 6.4 A correlation of Y and its variations to the dance of Sidi Musa (Figure 6.19; mm. 306–307). ................................................................................................... 283 Video 6.5 A correlation of Y and its variations to the dance of Sidi Musa (Figure 6.19; mm. 298–307). ................................................................................................... 283 Video 6.6 Motive Z and its variants with Sidi Musa’s paddle gesture (Figure 6.20a, mm. 39–45). ............................................................................................................... 285 Video 6.7 Motive Z and its variants with Sidi Musa’s breast stroke gesture (Figure 6.20b, mm. 211–223). ................................................................................................... 285 Video 6.8 Progression to the cadential motive (Figure 6.22). ............................................. 287  xvi  Acknowledgements  My deepest gratitude goes to the Gania masters and their families for sharing their musical wisdom, culture, home, and lives with me. Thanks are due to the Gnawa community at large, the Zaouia Sidna Bilal, organizers of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival, and the Dar Souiri Association in Essaouira, Morocco. I would also like to express my appreciation to my friends in Fez for opening doors early on in my research. Interaction among my cohorts at UBC has been a healthy forum in which I have been able to grow and progress as a scholar, educator and musician. I am grateful to the members of my examining committee, William Benjamin, Vinay Kamat, Salvador Ferreras, Nathan Hesselink and Michael Tenzer, for their comments, critiques and questions. Michael and Nathan offered invaluable comments to earlier versions of my dissertation, for which I am most appreciative. Thanks are also due to my UBC peers for their overwhelming support, advice and friendship. My external examiner, Michael Frishkopf, gave me a gift with his thoughtful and detailed report. His insights will continue to help me refine and deepen my research and writing for years to come. I am eternally grateful to Michael Tenzer for his commitment, encouragement, guidance and generosity throughout this journey; and for always keeping me on my toes. He has not only been my professor, but my mentor and friend. His rigor, compassion and curiosity shall remain an inspiration. Thank you to my family and my husband for their love, support, and understanding. Research was facilitated by the generous support of the Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) for Doctoral Students awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research  xvii  Council (SSHRC) of Canada, and the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Graduate Studies Doctoral Grant.  xviii  Chapter 1 Introduction 1.1 Initial Encounters  Squeezed between two Moroccan ladies with my back up against the wall, I sat among other guests lined along the perimeter of the square room with our shoes removed. I was mesmerized and engulfed by the intense and frenetic activity around me. The music— comprising a single gut-string lute (guembri) and six,1 maybe ten pairs, of heavy metal double-castanets (qraqab) accompanying call-and-response singing—continued for hours on end, without any breaks (Figure 1.1). In turn the musicians got up, danced, sat down; then the audience got up, sat down, danced, screamed, moaned, collapsed. Before the musicians was a pile of colored veils, a brazier, a tray of small containers, and another tray of bottles. A group of women surveyed the scene, shouting commands, moving in and out of view, placing more things before the musicians, taking things away, draping veils over the dancers’ heads with the same color, changing to a new color, holding on to women, sprinkling them with fragrant water. I watched, fascinated and entranced as the dancers with their backs to me facing the musicians bobbed up and down, their arms flailing in synchrony to the music. My whole body resonated from the overpowering sound of the qraqab, entrained by their repeating rhythm, my mind set adrift by the subtle, warm, alluring melodies of the guembri and impassioned cries of the musicians. As the night wore on, intoxication set in. By the time we left, the sun had already spilled over the medina walls. Thus I was initiated, as it were, into  1  Alternate spellings include guinbri, guenbri, guinbre, gumbri, and gunbri. Alternate names include hajhuj (also spelled hajhouj or hajuj) and sentir (sintir). 1  Figure 1.1 Medina wall in Essaouira. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  the world of the Gnawa.2 My introduction to Gnawa music, however, was far removed from the sacred context of the lila (all-night spirit possession ritual).3 I met M‘allem Mahmoud Gania and his family ensemble at the 2001 World Sacred Music Festival in Japan a few weeks before my “initiation” (Figure 1.2). Unlike the intimacy of a ritual setting, the audience numbered thousands, the sound was amplified, and the music was performed on a large, elevated stage where the master stood center with his accompanying musicians sitting on chairs, getting up  2  Gnawa is the plural of Gnawi (masculine singular form) and Gnawiyya (feminine singular form). The plural form of Gnawa is most frequently used as an adjective: for example, Gnawa music and the Gnawa festival, rather than Gnawiyya music and Gnawi festival. For this reason I primarily employ the plural form. Alternate spellings are Gnaoua, Gnaoui, and Gnaouiyya. 3 Lila is the feminine form of lil, which literally means night in Arabic. Gnawa often use this term to refer to a night-long event involving the performance of ritual music associated with spirit possession. 2  a)  b) Figure 1.2 a) M‘allem Mahmoud (center, with blazer) and his family in Mie Jima. b) Backstage at the World Sacred Music Festival with M‘allem Mahmoud (in red), his son on his left, his brother-in-law behind, and a family friend in the foreground. (Photograph s by Maisie Sum)  3  to dance when signaled by the music. A spectacular procession opened the show, not unlike the one I witnessed at the ceremony. From the back of the stage, enrobed in red, the master led his family out onto the audience platform playing the largest of three cylindrical drums (tbel). Donning sheshiat (caps) and blue satin kaftan-s (belted tunics) decorated with cowry shells, the rest of the musicians played the smaller tbel and qraqab. Full of vivacity, they smiled as they paraded towards the stage, parting the crowd and stopping en route to perform acrobatic dances. As the sun sank beneath the sea behind us the Gnawa emerged on stage. M‘allem Mahmoud’s manager told me that the music performed on stage had its origins in healing rituals, which they continued to perform in Morocco alongside secular events such as festivals. Though the musicians themselves did not tell me much about their music—which, incidentally, would change little during the course of my research—their performance revealed a magical power and energy. The bass melodies played on the guembri supported by an intense ostinato of over a dozen qraqab, combined with an evocative performance of acrobatic dances by the Gania family, had a profound impact. Some were moved to buy their CD, others to procure the three-stringed lute. After the festival, I found myself walking into a travel agency requesting an immediate flight to Morocco. The earliest option was via Spain. From the port city of Algeciras I took a ferry across glistening blue waters of the Gibraltar strait to begin what would be the first of a series of journeys to Morocco. Docking in Tangiers, a half day’s journey away from my point of destination of Essaouira, I took a train south to Marrakesh, stayed the evening, and bussed with the locals through the dusty roads, baggage on the roof, packed like sardines, to take part in the fourth annual Gnaoua and World Music Festival (hereafter Gnaoua  4  Festival).4 Upon arrival I was immersed in the musical world of the Ganias, a sub-Saharan family with Gnawa lineage. In addition to the festival performances, I had the privilege to go to their rehearsals, exclusive jam sessions, participate in sacred lila-s, and attend a range of private events organized by political leaders and local patrons in hotels, restaurants, rented apartments, and homes. Bewildered and intrigued by the sacred occasion and divergent presentations of Gnawa music, I set out to investigate its musical codes, the evolving spaces and times of their musical practice, and how Gnawa ritual musicians negotiate contrasting social experiences. As fascinated as I was with the ritual proceedings, I was particularly curious about how the musicians felt, despite the stage energy and seriousness—that is, the level of ritualness displayed on secular occasions. It was not so much that they engaged in divergent performance contexts, but that the material used in secular shows drew from the same repertoire intended for spirit possession rituals. In each space and time, however, the function and meaning of music differed. Rather than antagonize each other, I had the impression that contextual distinctions engendered a harmonious co-existence between the sacred and secular. But how did the experience of musicking differ for the musicians and the participating audience? How was this expressed by the practitioners? Were contextual distinctions manifested in musical practice, and if so, how? Investigating the cognitive processes of Gnawa masters through the analysis of music performance became the focus in my search to reconcile secularized versions of the sacred. Because of the largely improvisatory nature of variation in Gnawa musical practices, observable from the highest structural level of the ritual repertoire to the micro-structural 4  Gnaoua is a transliteration used in festival brochures and commonly adopted in manuscripts written in the French language. 5  level of musical units, I consider it a symbolic form of unverbalized (and perhaps nonverbalizable) emotions and by extension of the Gnawa subconscious. I use the terms unverbalized and subconscious because the Gania masters spoke about their music with few details and owed their variations to hal, rather than particular social situations. Kapchan defines hal as “a state of heightened emotion… mentation… of transcendence” (2007:26). According to ethnomusicologist Jean During, Kapchan explains: “Taken in the strictly religious sense, it can be understood as the equivalent of ‘communication with the divine’… transcendental grace that penetrates the heart of an individual without their volition”… During goes on to say that the term ‘hal’ is used in many different ways—by Sufis, by musicians, and by listeners. In the context of musical aesthetics, the hal produces a kind of contemplation in which a distance between two levels of being is perceived and transcendence attained” (Kapchan 2007:267).5 It resembles what musicians call “magic” (Berliner 1994:217, 387) or what athletes might call “being in the zone;” a state of wonder or enhanced performance that one gives oneself up to rather than controls. These states, as we know, are rarely attained by the amateur whether a musician, athlete, or mystic. The gift of hal is intimately linked to our habitus in that its accessibility depends on one’s disposition, experiences, and skills. How do hal, the habitus of ritual musicians, and their musical choices in different contexts correlate? Analysis of musical processes seeks to explain how Gnawa relate their music to non-music events, and one kind of music to another, and suggests ways in which they integrate and use different Crapanzano writes: “Hal, which means temperature, condition or state, and is in general use in Moroccan Arabic, has… a specific meaning in the Sufi lexicon. It refers to one of the psycho-gnostic states (ahawal), such as nearness to God or divine intimacy, over which the mystic has no control. These states are descended from God. In at least the popular brotherhoods of Morocco; hal refers to the entranced state which in the Sufi lexicon is known as wajd, or ecstasy. Insofar as the Moroccan trancer has no control over his hal—it is descended from a saint or a jinn and ultimately from God— the hal resembles the ahwal of the Sufis” (1973:195). Kapchan explains that it is “a phenomenological condition that, in Sufi usage, originates from God, bestowing grace or baraka on its recipient” (2007:108). 5  6  kinds of social and musical experience.6  Music is too deeply concerned with human feelings and experiences in society, and its patterns are too often generated by surprising outbursts of unconscious cerebration, for it to be subject to arbitrary rules, like the rules of games. Many, if not all, of music’s essential processes may be found in the constitution of the human body and in patterns of interaction of human bodies in society. (Blacking 1973:x)  A governing question in my research, particularly with respect to the impact of global forces on non-verbalized, oral/aural music traditions, is: If music is human expression, what does the music suggest to us that the musicians cannot or do not? What is the connection between cognitive and musical processes? How are rules of engagement observed with regard to context? Musical analysis demonstrates its relevance when it helps to correlate structure, expression, and meaning. The aims of my dissertation are threefold: to analyze the Gnawa ritual with regard to structure, process, function and meaning; to investigate whether, and how, Gnawa music is context-sensitive; and building on the first two points, to assess the impact of global forces on ritual and music traditions and on its practitioners. My interest in ritual, what Geertz (1973) considers a window of meaning in cultural phenomena, and Bell (1992) conceives as a strategic mode of action, intends to contribute to our knowledge and understanding of little studied collective musical practices in the world. By investigating the musical idiom and its use in ritual practices, I hope to elucidate the habitus that informs the perception of social 6  The Gnawa have an oral tradition in which practitioners learn passively and through careful observation and imitation (personal communication, A. Gania, M. Gania, M. Outanine, Z. Gania, 2009). Given the secrecy of their ritual (and musical) practice, the hereditary Gnawa masters are guardians of their tradition, and like the Shona elders, “give only the amount of information they believe to be appropriate to the situation and to the persons involved” (Berliner 1981:7). This, however, does not rule out the possibility that the Gnawa musical system is non-verbalizable or not formally verbalized. More work is needed to identify the metaphors they may use for discussing music. 7  situations and gives meaning to musical expression. By conducting comparative musical analysis between sacred performances in which different types of possession trance occur, and between sacred and secular renditions of the same musical piece, I establish how the Gnawa musical system, given its variation form, operates as a referent to context. Through a special focus on musical analysis, I hope to shed light on patterns and behaviors embedded in sonic structure. I propose that music as human expression offers insight into the cognitive processes of performance in both traditional and new global context, and demonstrates the resilience and agency of the marginalized.  1.2 Gnawa Preliminaries  The presence of a black population in the Maghreb [the Arabic name for Morocco, may also connote Northwest Africa] has been known since antiquity.7 It developed further with the great Maghrebi empires. From the eleventh century, the Almoravids overthrew the pagan prince of Ghana [the empire]; the ruling classes were Islamized and exchange intensified between Morocco and the country of the Blacks.8 In the fifteenth century, the Maghrebian civilization settled in Timbuktu, Gao, and other Soudanese [i.e., West African] cities. In the sixteenth century, [Sultan] Ahmed El Mansour carried out the systematic conquest of Soudan [Songhay Empire]. In the seventeenth century, Mulay Ismaïl formed the first Black army in Morocco.9 (Lapassade 1999:25) 7  Although Maghreb refers to Morocco in the above citation, the term also refers to Northwest Africa including Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. 8 Arabic sources also indicate that during the Almoravid dynasty in the eleventh century, there was an army of 4,000 black slaves from Jnawa [i.e., Gnawa] that increased to 30,000 under the succeeding Almohad dynasty (El Hamel 2008:246, 248). 9 Though early sultans had black slave-soldiers, it was during Mulay Ismaïl’s reign that black soldiers formed the bulk of the army, numbering 150,000 at the time of his death—the largest black army in Moroccan history. “Beginning in 1580, the sultan Mulay Ismaïl bought back or confiscated all the black slaves he could procure and created black colonies where male children were trained by the sultan and enrolled in the army at age sixteen” (Kamian 2001:39). Meyers (1977) denies evidence of any large-scale Sudanese migration and says that MulayIsmaïl’s army was recruited from blacks in Morocco; that is, those brought previously from the sub-Sahara and the “free” indigenous blacks. Delafosse (1924) writes of ongoing trading and intimate relations between Morocco and Sudan for 8  Essaouira Tamgrout  Figure 1.3 Map of Morocco.10  Slightly larger than California, Morocco is one of four countries in the Maghreb. It borders the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and Spain to the northwest, and Algeria and the Western Sahara to the southeast (Figure 1.3).11 Of the 32 million inhabitants, the ethnic majority is Arab-Berber and the dominant religion is Islam.12 Although French is often the  nearly five centuries until the reign of El Mansour in the sixteenth century, whose hunger for power and wealth drove him to overthrow the Mali Empire in the hopes of gaining control of the salt and gold trade. Furthermore, Delafosse emphasizes El Mansour’s exportation of Spanish troops to Sudan to secure control of the mines rather than his interest in transporting slaves. In the seventeenth century, however, Delafosse mentions the rounding up of sub-Saharans to build Mulay Ismaïl’s army. 10 These two images are in the public domain as they have been reproduced from the Central Intelligence Agency Web site. The image on the left has been modified to include Essaouira and Tamgrout. 11 Maghreb literally means “west.” The term connotes the Northwest region of Africa that encompasses Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Maghreb is also the Arabic name for Morocco. An alternate spelling is Maghrib. 12 Ethnic groups include a 1% other, and religions mentioned are Christian 1% and Jewish 6,000 (2010 estimate). Data is from the Central Intelligence Agency Internet resource 9  language of business and government, the official language is Arabic. Most people speak either Arabic or Berber dialects and some have a functional command of French. Just over fifty percent of the population is literate.13  1.2.1 Who are the Gnawa?  According to El Hamel, “[a]fter many generations… freed black slaves eventually formed their own families and communities, such as those of the Gnawa mystic order” (2008:249). Though not all Gnawa have sub-Saharan roots or a history in slavery (and not all sub-Saharans are Gnawa),14 their concentrated distribution along (and near) the trade routes of caravans coming from the sub-Sahara by land or sea at the end of the sixteenth century (e.g., Essaouira, Marrakech, and Tangiers),15 not to mention in the imperial cities where a black slave army guarded the sultan from as early as the eleventh century (e.g., Marrakech, Fez, Meknes, and Rabat), suggests a significant percentage did at some time in history.16 Hale writes:  (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mo.html. Accessed January 7, 2012). 13 Defined as those fifteen years of age and over who can read and write (Central Intelligence Agency Internet resource). 14 “It seems certain that black and white populations mixed, perhaps there was even a predominance of blacks in the southern oasis. These black farmers were not slaves: they lived in symbiosis with the great Berber tribes [dating back to at least the 3rd century]” (Pâques 1991:24). In nineteenth and early twentieth century writings, Westermarck, an anthropologist from England who spent seven years (between 1898-1926) studying the cultural traditions of Morocco, had already noted that the Gnawa were “usually, but not always, blacks from the Sudan” (1899:258). 15 Some caravans from the sub-Sahara stopped in Marrakesh at the city gate Bab Agenou (built by El Mansour in 1185), “which can be understood as ‘the door of the Blacks’ or ‘the door of the Slaves’” (Hale 1998:332–336), while others continued northward reaching Spain. Essaouira also served as a port for goods (gold, textiles, and humans) coming from the south, some of which were shipped abroad by boat (Pâques 1991). 16 In addition to the old trading ports and imperial cities, today Gnawa live in various regions of Morocco including the modern port cities and economic centres of Agadir in the south (Lakhdar 10  The agenaou—the people from Black Africa—who passed through the Bab Agenaou to serve as soldiers, laborers, and servants were accompanied not only by gold and ivory but also by their traditions... Although we do not know if the origin of the term agenaou originated in Ghana… any visitor to Marrakesh today quickly encounters a living clue to the cultures of these slaves in a group of musicians known as Gnawas. (Hale 1997:257) In the past, the majority of Gnawa belonged to the “nearly 1% other” ethnicity, and spoke the native tongue of their sub-Saharan homeland. In the last few decades, however, there has been a shift in demographics, not to mention language. Expatriate Paul Bowles who spent fifty-three years of h  is life in Morocco writes:  Sixty years ago when I first came to Morocco [1930s], the Gnawa were almost uniformly black, and many still spoke their native tongue, Bambara. Today most of them are considerably lighter in color, and have replaced Bambara with Darija Arabic [Moroccan dialect of Arabic]. (Bowles 1990 in Goodman-Singh 2002:87)  At the festival and on compact disc labels, the faces of the Gnawa musician span a spectrum of complexions and recall the evolving ethnic diversity of the blues artist. Gnawa is a polyvalent term that signifies a particular organization or community of people, and may also be used to identify their beliefs and practices, or their music. It refers collectively to a sub-Saharan-Islamic society (taifa) of Morocco with roots in slavery, whose followers practice rituals of spirit possession in which music plays a fundamental role; Claisse describes the realities of different historical periods encompassed in the term Gnawa:  First, the black captives who arrived in Morocco at the époque of the Saharan slave trade (16th century); second, a body of royal servants that of ‘the army and the black guard’ (end of the 17th century); third, a network of musicians 2006) and Casablanca in the north; along the Atlantic coastline in Safi and Asilah; and at the eastern border to Algeria in Oujda (Langlois 1998). Gnawa may be found in other areas of Morocco that remain unknown. Gnawa are also scattered between Europe and North America. A small population exists in France and some Gnawa reside in England, the United States and Canada. 11  vested with magico-religious powers which expanded rapidly at the end of the 19th century; fourth, in its most contemporary sense, some inner city youth, somewhat marginalized, claiming the Gnawa culture. (Claisse 2003:17-18)  French ethnologists Pâques (1991) and Claisse (2003) differentiate between two groups of Gnawa: the Gnawa of ganga (also called ‘abid Lalla Mimuna or Lalla Krima) who were “part of the slave trade” (Claisse 2003:29) in Berber country, and Gnawa of the imperial cities (devoted to Sidi Bilal) who were the “personal servants of the sultan” (ibid.). Pâques considers the Gnawa of Lalla Mimuna a “sort of complementary brotherhood to the Gnawa of Bilal… the feminine part” (1991:62, 65). With the exception of the guembri, they use the same instruments. The former plays the tbel accompanied by qraqab for the “sacrificial procession” (Claisse 2003:29) during daylight hours until dusk, and “cannot ‘enter into the night’” (Pâques 1978:320). That is to say, unlike the Gnawa of Bilal, they do not animate night rituals for possession trance that require the guembri. Not only do these two groups have distinct geographies, functions, and music, they also have separate zawiya-s (lodge or sanctuary). M‘allem Abdallah says there are Gnawa who specialize in the ganga, “African for drum” (personal communication, 2009), but did not make any distinction between groups. My research focuses on the music and practitioners of spirit possession rituals, who, in addition to the guembri, play the tbel during the procession portion. Pâques specifies four main points with regard to Gnawa identity: 1) not all blacks are slaves, 2) not all slaves are Gnawa, 3) not all possessed are slaves or Gnawa, and 4) all Gnawa are slaves and possessed (1991:62). “Once an adept sacrifices two chickens, provides four meters of cloth the color of their spirit, they enter into the company of the Gnawa, no matter their social origin they become ontologically slaves” (ibid.). She writes: “‘We are the  12  pure race of slavery’, they [the Gnawa] say, even and especially though this condition does not correspond to a factual situation but to a kind of ontological status” (ibid.:23). Gnawa claim ancestral affiliation with Bilal, an Ethiopian born into slavery in Medina around 580 CE who converted to Islam,17 was freed by the Prophet, and became the first caller to prayer.18 This connection strengthens their identification with the construction of their past as one of slavery and displacement from south of the Sahara;19 that is, their ontological past, while simultaneously establishing their allegiance to Islam. Etymological theories of the term Gnawa also point to a similar identity. They suggest it is transmuted from words including Guinée, “a Berber expression derived from akal-n-iguinaouen, which signifies ‘the country of the Blacks’, just as ‘Soudan’ comes from the Arabic expression bilâd-es-soûdân, which has exactly the same meaning” (Delafosse 1924:155-156);20 Djinawa, a term used in the 12th century to refer to the citizens of the kingdom of Ghana (Chlyeh 1999:17); and igri ignawan, a Berber phrase which means “‘the field of the cloudy sky,’ an expression implying a turbulent wind…21 Moreover, ‘field of the sky’ is a circumlocution for the star Aldebaran, which is found at the center of Gnawa cosmological representations” (Pâques 1978:319). According to the linguist Taïfi (1992), the term could have been derived from the root gnw, which in the dialects of Central Morocco Pâques points out that this is “evidently not a biological [affiliation] since the saint [Bilal] was a eunuch” (1991:60). 18 Some say that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, “a very close friend to the Prophet” (El Hamel 2008:250), heard about his conversion, “bought him and set him free in the name of Islam” (ibid.). 19 For more details, see El Hamel (2008), Goodman-Singh (2002), and Kapchan 2007. 20 According to Delafosse, the Libyan Berbers gave the name Guinée to the land of the black race well before the Arabs invented the synonymous term Soudan. Trade between the Berbers and the Iguinaouen is documented as early as the 11th century. Slaves and gold powder were traded for textiles, jewelry and sticks of copper. “The influence of Phonecian and Punic colonies positioned on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Morocco intensified trading and the commercial relations between Maghreb and Soudan” (Delafosse 1924:156). Dermenghem says that “[m]ost of the imported Blacks now seem to originate from regions south and east of Timbuktu… which would explain the predominance of Songhay and Haussa songs” (1953:318). 21 Paques writes: “In fact, the Gnawa do call themselves ‘the people of turbulence’” (1978:319). 17  13  “evokes ‘the darkening sky’ and ‘thunder’ that follows… suggesting a clapping sound and perhaps, more generally, qualifying the incomprehensible language of an unrecognized populace or civilization, that of the slaves who came from the Northern bend of Niger via the caravan routes” (in Claisse 2003:32).22  1.2.2 Beliefs and Practices  According to French sociologist Lapassade, “[Gnawa] culture belongs in the largest category of rituals of the negro diaspora that can be further classified into two large groups” (1998:6)—Afro-American and the Negro-Maghrebian.23 Like their diasporic counterparts in North Africa and across the Atlantic, Gnawa beliefs and practices integrate those of the dominant culture (religion and language) and local indigenous customs with those of their homeland (sub-Saharan animism and rituals of spirit possession) to form a unique system— “the religion of slaves” (Pâques 1991).24 Common to spirit possession rituals in general (Becker 2004; Rouget 1985) and African diasporic practices in particular, music is crucial. During the lila, Gnawa venerate Allah and the Prophet Mohammed and salute and call on Islamic, regional and local saints, and supernatural forces of the sub-Sahara by using vocal 22  For more discussion on the etymology of Gnawa, see Pâques (1991), Hale (1998), Hell (2002), Claisse (2003), and Kapchan (2007). 23 Sub-Saharan populations were brought to North African countries such as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, where they formed similar cultural communities and practices which go by different names, such as Gnawa, Bilali (Dermenghem1953), and Stambeli (Jankowsky 2010). “Religious phenomena characterized by the words zar and bori (genies, possession by genies), diwan (reunion, assembly, society) are spread throughout the Abysinnia, North Africa, Haussa, Songhay and Bambara. Analogues having roots further south than Soudan have been observed in the Antilles and Brazil. Under the symbolism of genies, the profound goals, aside from the social effects, are a catharsis, a purification of energies, healing of nervous illnesses or pacification of the soul by ecstasy. It’s the form that the mystic of displaced, oppressed, exiled minority most easily take, and which has been accommodated by Islam in Africa like Christianity in the Americas” (Dermenghem 1953:320). 24 In Brazil, for example, the Umbanda incorporates African, European, and native Indian religions (Bastide 1978; Wafer 1991). 14  and instrumental techniques. Although the vocal portion contains African words peppered among a predominantly Arabic text, the music evokes a characteristically African sonority with respect to instrumentation, vocal style, pitch, rhythm, structure and form. Gnawa live according to a philosophy of life governed by the co-existence and interaction of temporal and supernatural realms that share resemblances to the cultural beliefs and practices of other trancing traditions. Similar to the Bilali in Algeria, the Candomblé in Brazil, Hindu in Bali, and Santería in Cuba, among others,25 their worldview is based on a trinity in which the existence of dualism and a third intermediary element—a codified metalanguage of music, dance, olfaction, sacrifice, ritual objects—works to equilibrate and unite opposite yet complementary worlds of the universe. A practice of adorcism—that is, spirit accommodation (Heusch 1962)—the lila as embodying the Gnawa worldview is an offering that propitiates and pleasures the supernatural entities of the Gnawa pantheon and serves to cultivate a symbiotic relationship with them (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2006).26 Multiple threads of religious beliefs and activities are woven into the fabric of Gnawa daily life. Despite, or rather in addition to, their animistic beliefs and practices in spirit possession, Gnawa are devout Muslims. They recognize the importance of and practice the five pillars of Islam—profession of faith, prayer (five times a day), almsgiving, fasting and the pilgrimage to Mecca—and perform ritual offerings to appease their sub-Saharan spirits on a regular basis throughout their lifetime.27 On canonical days such Mulid al-Nabi (the  25  Works that focus on particular trancing cultures include Belo (1949, 1960), Bastide (1978), Crapanzano (1973), Friedson (1996), Hagedorn (2001). For studies on trance consult Rouget (1985) and Becker (2004). 26 Distinct from exorcism, adorcism is a practice of spirit accommodation rather than spirit expulsion. 27 Like any religious practitioner, the degree of devotion varies from person to person (e.g., not everyone, Gnawa or non-Gnawa, abstains from eating pork or drinking alcohol). 15  Prophet’s birthday) and ‘Id al-Kbir (the Great Sacrifice),28 Gnawa may hold a lila in celebration. They participate in the Maghrebian Berber tradition of maraboutism which involves ritual visits to the tombs of saints scattered throughout Morocco,29 sometimes performing lila in their honor. On the last day of the Gnawa’s annual obligatory lila, which takes place during the month of Sha‘ban ,30 they may invite ulema (Muslim scholars) to recite Quranic verses. In the following month of Ramadan, they fast and abstain from invoking the mluk (supernatural entities).31 “We must lock up everything. No lila during Ramadan. The mluk need to rest” (personal communications, Z. Gania and Saida, 2007) (cf. Dermenghem 1953).32 With the exception of Ramadan, a lila may take place at any time of  The Prophet’s anniversary, Mulid al-Nabi, or simply Mulid, takes place on the 12th of Rabi‘. The Great Sacrifice (‘Id al-Kbir or ‘Id al-Adha) is celebrated after the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijja. 29 The practice of venerating saints with annual visits to their tombs and holy sites is said to be assimilated from Berber tradition. Marabout from marabit “describes a man attached to God… used for any of the warrior-saints who brought Islam to Morocco. ‘Maraboutisme’ has become in French the catch-all expression for all sorts of activities associated with the worship of saints” (Crapanzano 1973:1–2). Maraboutism is popular among Moroccan Muslims. 30 Sha‘ban precedes Ramadan. To the Gnawa, Sha‘ban celebrates the old and welcomes in a new year of human and spiritual interaction. 31 The Gnawa term mluk signifies supernatural entities, spirits, and saint-genies belonging to the Gnawa pantheon—that is, the spirit possessors. It is the plural form of melk (masculine singular form) or melka (feminine singular form). Alternate spellings include malk or malka. Mluk may generally be referred to as jnun (plural form), jinn (masculine singular form) or jinnya (feminine singular) in standard Arabic. Alternate spellings include djnun or gnun in the plural, and djinn or ginn in the singular. Kapchan writes: “from the verb ma-la-ka, to own […] may also be translated as ‘kings’ or ‘angels’… The term mluk is used in the ritual ceremonies to refer to the spirits, jnun being the more colloquial nonritual term” (2007:18, 244 [fn.4]). Like the literal meaning of mluk, Westermarck (1899) also refers to the Arabic jnun as owners. Chlyeh considers the mluk and djnun as different entities (1999:33–40); that is, the jinn are Muslim spirits whereas mluk are reserved for African entities. The Ganias use these terms interchangeably. A friend once said: “Mluk is the Gnawa word for jnun. They don’t know this word outside of Morocco” (personal communication, Aisha, 2007). According to Lapassade, the mluk are supernatural entities specific to the Gnawa pantheon, whereas jnun are of the genie-spirit category (1998:81). Kapchan uses mluk synonymously with jnun (2004:30), “genies that in Islamic belief are born of fire… humans are born of earth, while angels are creatures of light” (ibid.:31). In the Quran, djnun are supernatural forces or spirits created from smokeless fire (Sura 7:11, 38:76). See Chlyeh (1998:38–40) and others (such as Pâques 1991 and Hell 1999) for more discussion on the distinction between these terms. 32 Dermenghem writes with regard to the diwan of Algeria, “It is the end of that month that ‘Those people,’ ‘Those other people’—the spirits—are shut up in their mysterious retreats until the end of 28  16  the year if deemed necessary for the sick, and if desirable and affordable by an adept, patron, or researcher. The lila is the main ritual activity of the Gnawa and its social organization reflects the hierarchy of the community. At the top are the two main actors: the moqaddema (or moqaddem),33 and the m‘allem.34 As leaders of the society and guardians of their tradition, they have a deep knowledge of all sensory symbols associated with the mluk, the ritual structure and process, and their mythical and mystical meanings. Moqaddema-s and m‘allem-s are chosen by the community (seen and unseen) and endowed with baraka, a divine grace or miraculous force.35 The rest of the Gnawa community comprises their followers: assistants, children of Gnawa masters, and clients or patients of the moqaddema. Their status depends upon a number of factors, such as their affiliation with the mluk,  the fasting. This fortnight continuously resounds with the noise of the great iron castanets and the drums” (Dermenghem 1953, translated by Hunwick and Powell 2002:154). 33 Moqaddema is the feminine singular form of moqaddem (masculine singular form) that refers to a ritual officiant who is often a seer-therapist and/or medium. This role, however, is not gender specific. Pâques worked with male seer-officiants (1991:28; personal communication, Z. Gania, 2009), and although I only ever attended lila-s run by moqaddema-s, I was told moqaddem-s existed. Nevertheless, the Gania m‘allem-s and other Gnawa with whom I worked often employed the feminine form—moqaddema—which suggests that the role is often fulfilled by women (at least in recent times), or that their relationships are predominantly with female seers and officiants. In what follows, only the feminine term is employed. Moreover, while all moqaddema-s can officiate at lila-s, not all are seer-therapists or mediums. 34 The term m‘allem (masculine singular form) or m‘allema (feminine singular form) is used to refer to an expert of their trade (e.g., a master carpenter). Unlike the role of the moqaddema, the master musician is always male and designated by the masculine term alone. To date, there have not been any m‘allema who specialize in playing the guembri (personal communication, Gania family, 2006). 35 Geertz writes: “literally ‘baraka’ means blessing, in the sense of divine favor... it is a conception of the mode in which the divine reaches into the world… More exactly, it is a mode of construing— emotionally, morally, intellectually—human experience, a cultural gloss on life… [which] comes down to… the proposition… that the sacred appears most directly in the world as an endowment—a talent and a capacity, a special ability—of particular individuals. Rather than electricity, the best (but still not very good) analogue for ‘baraka’ is personal presence, force of character, moral vividness” (1968:44). Crapanzano defines baraka as the “saint’s blessing or holiness… a miraculous force or power… [which] is not only transmissible to his progeny but has in certain special circumstances a contagious quality” (1973:2, 19). Kapchan adds: “Baraka is also the euphemistic term used to refer to the money given to the Gnawa in exchange for their more literal conference of blessing” (2007:142). See also Chlyeh (1998:125). The way in which the term is used depends upon context. 17  musical skills, and knowledge. During a given ritual occasion, the majority of assistants belong to a single Gnawa family who play supporting roles as helpers to the moqaddema or accompanists to the m‘allem,36 and otherwise undergo a continuous, informal training, throughout their lifetime. The process of the lila serves not only human participants who sponsor and attend the ceremony, but also supernatural entities. Accordingly, the musical performance adheres to a structure and sequential ordering designated by a pantheon of spirit possessors. In this manner, Gnawa work to restore order and maintain harmonious relations between the various planes of existence with which they live their daily lives—seen by the unseen, heard by the unheard, touched by intangible beings from the heavens, waters and the forest. During such occasions, an outsider can sense a complete transformation of the daily and get a glimpse of the unseen, so to speak. The usual roles of Gnawa as carpenters, hairdressers, or students, and the house as a domestic quarter, take on new functions and identities.  1.2.3 Music Basics  Music and other sensory stimulants (i.e., colors, fragrances, food) are integral to lila-s, which are held for reasons including healing, annual renewal of ties with the mluk, initiation ceremonies, life cycle celebrations, expressions of gratitude to the mluk, requests for blessings, and celebrations of Islamic holidays. A sacred lila typically involves three parts which may be distinguished by instrumentation, repertoire, dance, and function that  These roles are often distinguished by gender. The moqaddema’s entourage are female and the m‘allem’s accompanists male. 36  18  culminates with the focal act—possession dance (jedba).37 The overall procedure is a progressive event intended for adorcism to serve as social medicine for the (seen) community, and at a deeper level, to restore and maintain balance and order between the temporal and spiritual dimensions of the world and enact the co-existence of humans and supernatural entities. The earlier parts of the lila are performed for the seen world of the living, and the latter is dedicated to the unseen world of mluk. In the former, music accompanies prepossession dances performed by the music ensemble, often referred to as the entertainment portion. In the latter, a special repertoire honors and invokes mluk to engender possession trance among patients and adepts. The music ritual is often performed in intimate settings with musicians and audience seated on the ground. During possession, members of the audience get up to dance when moved by their affiliated or afflicting spirits. Music, which initiates dance, 38 is essential for community entrainment and particularly crucial for processing and facilitating trance in the possession portion of the ritual process. It is the key to ritual success; that is, to “mastering communication with the spirits who enter the body and induce trance” (Kapchan 2007:34). The Gnawa musical world extends significantly into popular spheres. Gnawa perform in myriad contexts of sacred and secular spheres ranging from private lila-s to highly publicized and lucrative music festivals, to Islamic celebrations, television and studio Crapanzano writes: “Jidba, which is a… frenetic trance is derived from the Arabic for attraction. It is used by the Sufis for the mystical attraction to God. Although the transition from… to jidba is always abrupt and dramatic, jidba does not altogether correspond to such ‘strong seizures’ as are described for trance in Bali (Belo 1960:213). It is… a structured experience in which the performer carries out relatively complex behavior” (1973:195–196). 38 Arom writes: “for an African from a traditional milieu, simply to hear music gives rise almost immediately to a movement of the body. It is the dance, the ‘plastic music’ of which Senghor speaks (1958, rev. edn 1964: 240), that music, speech and movement find their fullest expression” (1991:10– 11). 37  19  recordings. Compared to similar musics found in North Africa and music of popular Sufi brotherhoods in Morocco, Gnawa is by far the most popular, nationally and internationally (Jankowsky 2010). Music performed for the purposes of festivals, parties, or recording sessions bears an aural resemblance to the sacred occasion; however, because they are intended for entertainment, other ritual necessities are normally absent. M‘allem-s engage in fusion collaborations with local and international artists, and some may form alternative bands (on the side) that blend local ethnic (usually Berber) and Euro-American traditions with respect to instrumentation and musical style.39 Gnawa women who do not usually play music in the traditional ritual setting form their own ensembles and similarly participate in musical activity of a sacred and secular nature. Traditional musical practice withstands the encroachment of global cultural flows and remains a living force. Though exposed to secular occasions of performance, and immersed in myriad music cultures of Morocco and constantly surrounded by musics of other worlds (at festivals, on national television and radio),40 children of hereditary families continue to grow up in a rich environment of sacred music practice. Going to school during the week, they may join in a lila over the weekend as active participants. Boys play music accompanying their fathers or uncles and perform acrobatic dances. Girls assist their mothers or aunts with ritual preparations and sometimes enter into trance. Gnawa children absorb  39  The Gania masters formed an ethnic folk group with their friends when they were in their early twenties (personal communication, A. Gania and M. Outanine, 2009). Some of them continue to experiment with blending musical styles and sounds. 40 Moroccan musics include communal Berber traditions of the Atlas mountains (ahwash, ahidus), specialist musics (Andalusian music, malhoun, and shikhat), music of religious associations (Heddawa, Jilala, ‘Aissawa, and Hamadsha), popular mass mediated musics (Sh‘abi and alternative folk pop). See also Cherqi (1981) and Schuyler (2008.). Sounds from the United States, Egypt and Turkey are also broadcasted locally, while internet access renders numerous more musics available with a single click. Two large annual festivals, held in Fez and Essaouira, also bring musics from around the world to the Moroccan population. 20  their traditional knowledge by listening, watching and doing. Like children of the Central African Republic, they learn music “just as [they] learn how to speak… the acquisition of the musical language peculiar to his or her own cultural community [which includes dance] runs parallel to the acquisition of language; one could even argue that, in a certain sense, it precedes it” (Arom 1991:13–14). Performances typically open with the thunderous sound of two or three large tbel-s (drums) accompanied by the dense metallic clacking of numerous qraqab. Voices of the instrumentalists soar above the intense, “dizzying rhythms of [their] drums and castanets” (Dermenghem 1953:347) as they process through the streets of Morocco or onto the elevated stages of international music festivals.41 Subsequently, the tbel-s are put away and the guembri (a three stringed lute), the principal melodic instrument of the ensemble, animates the remainder of the evening accompanied by handclaps or qraqab.42 The combination of the subtle warm sonority of the gut-strings juxtaposed with the intense cool timbre of thick steel dominates the musical texture. Male voices add another timbral layer characterized by calland-response, overlapping solo and choral parts, raw soulful delivery contrasted with a nasal understated one, and a degree of independence from the instrumental melody and rhythm.43 Gnawa melodies are usually pentatonic. The guembri has a one octave range with the tuning of its lowest note varying between B1 and D2#. Guembri motives two to sixteen beats long supported by ostinati played on the qraqab create a rich polyrhythmic texture. A musical performance consists of varying one or more motives defined by a cyclic concept of time. It Dermenghem’s general description of the diwan in Algeria resembles Gnawa instrumentation. This is the typical instrumentation of a sacred lila; however, other instruments such as the ghita (Moroccan oboe) may be added in other regions (personal communication, M. Outanine, 2009). 43 Some m‘allem, particularly of non-sub-Saharan descent, sing with clear diction, “the ideal Arabic aesthetic of [vocal] delivery” (Danielson 1997:138–141 in Jankowsky 2010:110) in contrast to the “not clearly enunciated” (ibid.) words of the Gania masters. A distinction in vocal delivery may be made between Gnawa m‘allem-s of sub-Saharan and non-sub-Saharan ancestry. 41 42  21  comprises three main sections: an instrumental prelude that introduces the motives, vocal invocation, and a final instrumental section. The tempo of a piece differs slightly between m‘allem-s and contexts. Increase in tempo is gradual during the vocal section and becomes more dramatic when the singing stops, usually reaching a peak as the music comes to a close. Gnawa music is traditional in the sense that it was produced for internal use for and by the members; there are no known composers or dates of inception. Pieces are passed on orally through ritual ceremonies and a collective responsibility for preservation. Virtually all the same pieces exist throughout Morocco, with some exceptions such as regional specialties or items belonging to particular m‘allem-s (or families), to which others are not privy. Two main types of repertoire exist and may be categorized by function (i.e., pre-possession or entertainment, and possession), or by thematic referential content (i.e., ontological past and supernatural entities). The first of each pair signifies “nostalgia for a home... forgotten in living memory” (Kapchan 2007:184); in the second of each pair, “the lyrics in the invocations to the spirits provide indexical and iconical links to Africa, but also referential indexes to Islam and, by extension, to the Arab East” (ibid.), the birthplace of Bilal. All musical performances—sacred or secular—draw from the same repertoire intended for possession rituals. Though rare, some m‘allem-s compose original pieces which they perform on secular occasions (personal communications, A. Gania and M. Outanine, 2009). Gnawa musical practice allows for and necessitates flexibility. A variation form, the repertoire selection for a given lila, and its prescribed order of invocation are subject to change due to social and contextual factors. On a micro-level, the shape and duration of an individual piece also differs between performances and may be as brief as a few minutes or last upward of ten minutes. The improvised musical practice is governed by implicit rules of  22  performance that are predicated by trance phenomena and new social situations, which are a central focus of my study.  1.3 Gnawa Scholarship and Beyond  Despite the strength of Gnawa tradition, when my interest in Gnawa music began in 2001, there were scarcely any publications on the music or ritual tradition, and fewer still in the English language: two out of three journal articles (Schuyler 1981; Langlois 1998); three out of less than a dozen contributions to edited books (Akharraz and Damgaard 1998; Kapchan 2000; Pâques 1978); and zero out of the seven monographs written in French, German, and Arabic. Since then the numbers have slightly increased in both French- and English-language publications. These writings, though few in number, have been significant and responsible for putting the Moroccan Gnawa and their music on the scholar’s map, tipping the scale slightly from the overwhelming popularity among festival goers in Morocco and Europe.44 Important studies which I have consulted throughout my research (including Pâques 1991; Chlyeh 1999; Lesage 1999; Lapassade 1998; Hell 2002; Claisse 2003; and Kapchan 2007) each have their own perspective: social, religious, historical, linguistic, semiotic, phenomenological, and/or mythical. Pâques’ seminal study distinguishes itself from others in its focus on Gnawa cosmogony and its links to the sub-Sahara.45 Her book La Religion des  44  The increase in scholarship at the end and beginning of the twentieth and twenty-first century parallels the growing international popularity of Gnawa music since the inception of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival in 1998. 45 Pâques spent several years in sub-Saharan Africa before living in Morocco and devoting her life to Gnawa beliefs and practices. 23  Esclaves (1991) considers the philosophical and religious system that dictates ritual practice. According to Claisse, “‘For Pâques, the lila ceremony is an entire cosmology lived in one night. Every aspect of the ceremony is symbolic of the soul’s journey from life to death and back to life’” (in Kapchan 2007:136). The music, which communicates the belief system in a concrete procedure—that is, it structures and enables ritual activity—is discussed little beyond the mythical and mystical meaning of the instruments and thematic content of pieces. Pâques offers brief semiotic explanations of musical phenomena associated with animals, gender and supernatural entities;46 however, the terminology is not sufficiently defined to derive any musical significance that could be related to vocal or instrumental parts. To complement my fieldwork, scholarship concerned with possession, globalization, and music has been singled out. Two important monographs dedicated largely to possession among the Gnawa include: Hell’s (1999) Possession et Chamanisme: Les Maîtres de Désordre and Kapchan’s (2007) Traveling Spirit Masters. Hell’s comprehensive anthropological study of the fundamental characteristics of shamanism and possession takes into account context, meaning, behavior and philosophy of the Gnawa society in addition to other trancing cultures. Kapchan explores the power of trance in and beyond the ritual, associated emotions, memory and the gesturing body in possession. Other studies on Gnawa include single chapters or brief discussions of the initiatory itinerary of possession, trance behavior, biographical accounts, and possession as therapy with general descriptions about music limited to instruments and timbre, and changes in tempo, dynamics and texture. Rouget (1985) and Becker (2004) have contributed to my understanding of trance and the  “‘We hit three strokes for the goat rhythm, four for the ram and five for the cow.’ The first rhythm is male, the second female, the third . . . symbolizes copulation . . . For the white spirits, five strokes for the first Whites, two times three strokes for the hajjaj (pilgrims), four strokes for the bu derbala… and the Jilala [spirits]” (Pâques 1991:259). 46  24  role of music in it. The impact of the global marketplace is the subject of the second half of Kapchan’s monograph and Majdouli’s (2007) monograph. In addition to possession of the body (trance), Kapchan explores the “possession of culture,” namely, the culture of trance, from the perspectives of Gnawa and their non-Gnawa collaborators. She captures the impact of EuroAmerican discourse (text and practice), contact, and tourism on Gnawa, and the “contemporary fascination with trance experience” on non-Gnawa. Kapchan says that “dichotomies like that of the sacred and the secular (marketplace) are not... ‘mutually exclusive features of musical globalization... but... integral constituents of musical aesthetics under late capitalism’” (2007:130). Majdouli’s monograph focuses on the festival as a globalizing force that transforms sacred to profane and the marginalized to the legitimized. She investigates the relation between the theatricality of the ritual and its performance on stage; liminality; and the Gnawa trajectory from ritual to national festival to the international arena. Their works reveal the cognitive processes of m‘allem-s with respect to their divergent performance contexts, but not the music per se. Until Fuson’s (2009) dissertation on the interaction of musical processes and the gesturing body, music itself had been given attention in only two short articles (Aydoun 1999 and Baldassarre 1999) and otherwise limited to brief, often aesthetic descriptions about the instruments, melody, and percussion. After describing the ritual and musical idioms, Fuson maps the interaction between musician and dancer at distinct phases of the ritual process and examines how the exchange of sonic and gestural knowledge of both actors may be characterized as an expressive genre he calls “co-enunciation” — that is, the dancer must master his or her own gestures and decipher those of the musician just as the musician’s  25  expertise must co-exist with his cognizance of dance gestures in order to achieve effective communication. Beyond Gnawa studies, scholars have struck a balance between the age old dichotomy of musicological and anthropological approaches to ethnomusicology. Some have also assessed the impact of global forces on traditional practices. Qureshi (1995) and Friedson (1996) focus on musical and ritual practices associated with trance. The former employs a rigorous systematic analysis of the Qawwali performance idiom, context and process; the latter, at the other extreme, takes a phenomenological approach to the music and dance of Tumbuka healing ceremonies. Both, however, remain within the realm of “traditional” performance. While Hagedorn (2001) examines the sacred performances of Santería ceremonies and their secularization, and her reflexive ethnographic approach details the social and musical experiences of performers, the music itself is not crucial to her study. More recently, Jankowsky’s (2010) book investigates music as a pragmatic force in Stambeli healing rituals and considers its secularization. Emoff (2002) is among the few who engage in musical analysis of “traditional” and current globally influenced spirit possession practices in his study of maresaka in Madagascar. The performance of cultural musics in “urban festivals internationally, whether as ‘traditional’ moments… or as highly orchestrated mega-events” (Waitt 2008:513) is a growing phenomenon, particularly among countries whose economies depend largely on tourist dollars. Although the production of festivals is not new, “[t]his remarkable rise can in part be attributed to the almost worldwide deployment of festivals as a contemporary urban regeneration tool of neoliberal governance through the conjunction of business, play and fantasy” (ibid.). The staging of sacred performances, such as Santería practices of Cuba,  26  Barong and Rangda of Bali, and Whirling Dervish dances of the Mawlawi order, to name but a few, has also coincided with the growing quest for spirituality and enterprise of “sacred tourism” (Kapchan 2008). While there is no dearth of studies on societies of trance traditions, more music-centered studies, not to mention ones that consider changing musical practices, would be welcome. My research imparts a musical dimension not only to the study of the Gnawa sacred ritual but to its secularized form, and contributes to the modest publications on the Gnawa and the music of the sub-Saharan diaspora in North Africa.  1.4 Approaches to Gnawa Music  1.4.1 Conceptual Tools  My concern with the evolving spaces and times of Gnawa music necessitates an interdisciplinary approach that integrates theories and methods derived from anthropology and Western analytical concepts. It takes inspiration from scholars (including Blacking 1967, 1973; Berliner 1981, 1994; Arom 1991; Nattiez 1995, 1999; Monson 1996; Tenzer 2000) whose works have demonstrated that the union between anthropology and musical analysis is not only complementary to the musical study of human cultures, but enriching. My research addresses one major question: In what way can we analyze music that is relevant to the culture bearers and their tradition? I take a synchronic approach, “observing how [music] works and determining the laws imposed on it by its own structure at a given historical stage and in a specific cultural context independently of its prior evolution... the only sound  27  methodological foundation for the study of the music of societies with no written tradition” (Arom 1991:xxiii). Adopting Blacking’s concept that music cannot be “detached from its context and regarded as ‘sonic objects’” (in Byron 1995:55), since “[e]very musical performance is a patterned event in a system of social interaction, whose meaning cannot be understood or analyzed in isolation from other events in the system” (ibid.:227), I consider Gnawa music with regard to “the context of its social uses and the cultural system of which it is a part” (ibid.). Transcriptions of field and commercial recordings focus on the instrumental part of Gnawa music. “The guenbri is a crucial instrument in Gnawa rituals. It is through this device that the trance occurs. […] If there is no guenbri there will be no trance” (M‘allem Boubeker Gania in El Hamel 2008:254). Scholars of other trancing cultures have also noted the centrality of instrumental melody and rhythm for attracting spirits (Besmer 1983; Jankowsky 2010). Accordingly, the guembri part contains all the parameters for describing the structure of Gnawa music; that is, the organization of “pitches into [sets], and durations into rhythmic values and periodicity” (Arom 1991:226, emphases in original) that supports vocal invocation and sustains trance. Musical motives are determined by applying an overarching framework of periodicity, defined as “repetition or re-statement, literal or transformed, of all kinds—of beats, rhythms, motives, melodies, structures, timbres” (Tenzer 2006:22) such as “time line, cycle, riff, ostinato… call-and-response, twelve-bar blues progression, tala” (ibid.:23). Because “[p]eriodicity structures and measures musical time” (ibid.:24), it serves as an optimal framework for unraveling the multiple layers of time, understanding the foundation of musical form and structure (how music is organized), musical processes (what is  28  happening in performance), and categorizing variations (what music signifies). With respect to Gnawa music, such an analytical approach helps us appreciate music’s correlation with ritual and trance phenomena, and distinguish subtleties between the sacred and secular. Throughout the study, I investigate Gnawa music (and ritual) in consideration of temporal hierarchy, “from the smallest rhythmic units (individual tones, durations, accents, and pulsations) to intermediate levels of structure (patterns, phrases, motives, poetic lines) to the larger, higher structural levels (formal sections, entire compositions and performances)” (Rowell in Tenzer 2006:25), including “those aspects of temporal hierarchy that outlast the duration of the individual musical event: musical seasons, creative lifetimes, the understandings that are handed down from teacher to student” (ibid.). Since my analysis compares renditions of the same pieces, and given that a single performance is based on the repetition of one or more motives, I adopt the principle of seriation which “invokes the idea that any investigator, in order to assign some plausible meaning to a given phenomenon, must integrate it within a series of comparable phenomena” (Nattiez 1990:230, emphasis in original). I use paradigmatic charts “not only indispensable for establishing the emic-ness of constitutive units of a corpus, but for interpreting, with respect to this corpus, the observed characteristics of a limited number of pieces” (Nattiez 1995:311, emphasis in original). Furthermore, these approaches bring to attention details concealed by repetition which I argue signify distinct mental activity. According to Meyer, “this ‘search attitude’ is important because small differences, which may be very important in the understanding of a work, may pass unnoticed if one is not set to perceive them” (1956:78), and in the case of Gnawa music, not armed with the appropriate tools.47 In the context of oral/aural, unwritten traditions, applying the above approach enables 47  See Perlman for a discussion on “the significance of small differences” (1993:11). 29  the researcher to identify and understand vernacular modes of musical organization and categorization and provides insight to how cognitive processes of master ritual musicians may be musically manifested. It should be kept in mind that Gnawa music is never performed the same way twice. Transcriptions of guembri motives are, as Amira and Cornelius write with regard to drumming patterns in Santería performances, paradigms at best: There is no single correct way to play the batá salutes. Batá drumming is an oral tradition. It lives in the performers’ minds rather than on the printed page. Therefore, despite the fact that the rhythms are highly formalized, they are also undergoing constant transformation, and although every authentic performance must conform to basic traditional models, each ensemble will develop its own individual performance style and rhythmic feel... In short, a study of the New York tradition reveals that while there are definitely correct and incorrect ways to play the salute rhythms, to a certain extent each generation, ensemble, and individual performer will internalize and recreate the tradition in his own musical voice. Due to the above factors it is unlikely that any performance would ever conform exactly with the transcriptions in this book... Therefore, the transcriptions act as paradigms. (Amira and Cornelius 1992:1–2)  1.4.2 Fieldwork  The information on which this study is based was gathered through a preliminary study of scholarly discourses on Gnawa ritual at the University of British Columbia (2004– 2006) and the library of the Dar Souiri Association in Essaouira,48 and through fieldwork in Morocco. The inquiry draws largely on my affiliation with the Ganias (a hereditary Gnawa family) that began in 2001, and visits to Morocco between 2006 and 2009. Due to the few studies dedicated to the music itself at the time, I began my research with initial  Souiri is the adjectival form of Essaouira; for example, Dar Souiri, literally means “house of Essaouira.” A person from Essaouira is also referred to as a Souiri. 48  30  interpretations and descriptions of the music made possible through transcription and analysis of studio recordings bought during my first visit to Morocco in 2001. Subsequently, this included a collection of field recordings made between 2006 and 2009. Although few studies on Gnawa music were available, given my repeated exposure to the music in the field over a span of eight years, additional transcriptions and comparisons of the vast repertoire and my discussions with the Gania family, I began to feel the power of their music and of the embodied musical knowledge of hereditary masters. The difference between the imaginary and real became clear. When I first asked musicians about performances of the same pieces in different contexts, aside from the apparent differences (i.e., setting, participants, accessories) they would always respond that it was the same. Given that Gnawa music is a variation form, the overall sound is the same, and differences concealed. In reality, however, performances were not the same and musical analysis revealed the subtle yet meaningful distinctions in musical processes not verbalized by the cultural practitioners (Chapter 7). On a return visit, I discussed my “discovery” with M‘allem Abdallah. Calmly nodding, he responded, “It’s not the same thing.” Perhaps as Jones says with regard to his research in Northern Rhodesia, “[T]he African is totally unconscious that there is a system at all. He cannot describe it: he cannot help the investigator. He just makes delightful music in his own way and lets it go at that” (1949:295, emphasis in original). Or as Arom writes about his work with the Aka of the Central African Republic: “not only are abstract concepts such as scale, degree, and interval not objects of verbal commentary, they are practically non-verbalizable. There is conception but not conceptualization” (2007a:37, emphases in original). While these assertions may  31  describe the reality of Jones’ and Arom’s field experiences and they may be true of other oral/aural traditions, I am careful not to privilege verbal over non-verbal language, and bear in mind that cultural practitioners may simply choose not to divulge information requested by the researcher. Gnawa music is an oral/aural tradition that is lived. Transmission takes place through repeated exposure, listening, watching, and imitating. Similar to the way we speak our native tongue, Gnawa know their music, understand the structure, and play by the rules intuitively. Learning in a procedural and imitative rather than declarative manner may pose a challenge for both the Gnawi confronted with questions about their music and the researcher who desires to understand it. A master of his music tradition, the m‘allem embodies knowledge of the system that he does not or cannot articulate, or may not wish to articulate (to an outsider). After all, he has no need for a formal exegesis. In addition to being a participant-observer, my time in the field was a process of learning how to learn about the music. I wonder how our interaction, contributed, if at all, to contemplation of their own music, or to developing a form of articulation. I also wonder if, like Berliner’s opening story in The Soul of Mbira (1981), I needed to prove my sincerity, my appreciation, and my dedication, and whether this was accomplished by my multiple visits and continual loyalty. Berliner writes, “I will long remember the lesson that Bandambira and the members of his village taught me about field research technique and about the nature of knowledge as privileged information… the elders who are the guardians of an oral tradition do not treat their knowledge lightly. Rather, ‘they give what they like’” (1981:7). Whatever access I was granted, it became evident that only over a long period of time, through consistent exposure, could I fully acquire the knowledge, get the concepts, and learn the  32  Figure 1.4 Moqaddema Zaida’s (center) daughters and nieces with husband Si Mohammed (far right). (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  secrets of Gnawa beliefs and practices. As M‘allem Mokhtar once told me, “School is the lila. I learned the guembri by going to lila-s as a boy” (personal communication, 2006). My relationship with the Gania masters that began in 2001 and extended through repeated visits engendered a trust among us that afforded me much freedom (to attend and record rituals and concerts), and contact with many family members who were castanet players, dancers, ritual assistants, and adepts. Despite the power dynamics present throughout, as is common in ethnographic work, I was embraced by the Gania masters, particularly Moqaddema Zaida, her husband Si Mohammed Outanine, and her daughter Saida (Figure 1.4). Various family members openly shared grievances and hardships, which sometimes left me in difficult situations. Suffice it to say that any challenges I faced did not 33  impede the aim of my study, and the familial bond we shared allowed me certain privileges into their ritual and musical world and daily lives. Thanks to our connection and their support, they generously invited me to various events and granted permission to record sacred lila-s when possible.49 I had the opportunity to witness the unfolding of sacred ritual events and observe the ways in which master musicians improvised variations. Field recordings of entire and partial lila-s enabled the rendering of transcriptions and detailed analysis. Despite being the African melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, donning traditional attire did little to help me blend in on the streets of Morocco, let alone at the intimate sacred ceremonies, and I felt particularly fortunate to be a friend of the Ganias. While their parents were engaged in ceremonial proceedings, in the early days of my research the spunky Gania children acted like my bodyguards, surrounding me as if to intentionally protect me from wondering, critical eyes. Following the novelty of my presence, it was not unusual to enter into conversations with other ritual participants. I attended over fifty events and recorded more than thirty performances by over a dozen musicians from four regions of Morocco;50 however, in this dissertation I decided to focus on masters from the same region and family. By limiting my musical data to that coming from a single (family) source, I reasoned that I could get a better picture of what improvisations were based on, since variables such as regional style and individual expression would be kept constant. Although I worked principally with M‘allem Abdallah Gania, my study includes all three masters to get an idea of variation within a single family and to have a larger sample of material for later comparative studies across regions, families, 49  Some sponsors held private invitation-only ceremonies and were partial to the Gnawa community. Although they agreed to let me attend, recording was forbidden. In other cases, the dancer in trance signaled me to turn off recording devices. 50 These include sacred lila-s, staged lila-s, and secular performances at festivals, restaurants, hotels and private parties. 34  styles, and generations. M‘allem Mahmoud Gania and M‘allem Abdallah Gania are about five years apart and were directly “trained” by their father, the late M‘allem Boubeker Gania, a m‘allem well respected for his mastery among the community. M‘allem Mokhtar, more than twenty years younger than his brothers, learned mainly from M‘allem Mahmoud, and represents in many ways the next generation coming on the scene as the popularity and secularization of Gnawa music was taking hold. Their hometown of Essaouira is ideal for investigating and assessing the impact of globalization on Gnawa beliefs and practices. It is a former slave port, tourist destination, and home of the Gnawa sanctuary (Zaouia Sidna Bilal) and popular Gnaoua and World Music Festival. Being the most lucrative and popular occasions, national and international music festivals are the largest venues for Gnawa music—the festival in Essaouira leads all others and gives rise to a host of other performance occasions. Situated at the intersection of the sacred and secular, Essaouira and the Ganias epitomize their conflicting yet harmonious co-existence.  1.5 Dissertation Overview  My dissertation is organized into two main parts: the contextual background and musical analysis. I investigate the embodied knowledge and cognitive processes of hereditary Gnawa musicians and demonstrate how they may correlate with performance. The improvisatory nature of Gnawa music renders it ideal for mapping mental activity to social situations. The background section discusses the Gnawa and their musical world: what the sound references (Chapter 2), who makes the sounds (Chapter 3), and how sound is conveyed (Chapters 4–5). Since all motor behavior is a product of mental activity (Meyer  35  1956:81), “music is best examined in terms of mental behavior” (ibid.:82). This mental activity is vital to understanding the choices of Gnawa musicians, and perhaps all musicians. “These dispositions and habits are learned by constant practice in listening and performing, practice which should, and usually does, begin in early childhood... Understanding music is not a matter of dictionary definitions, of knowing this, that, or the other rule of musical syntax and grammar, rather it is a matter of habits correctly acquired in one’s self and properly presumed in the particular work” (ibid.:61). Like the listener in Meyer’s study who has an “instinctive mental and motor response, a felt urgency, before its meaning can be truly comprehended” (ibid.), the musician has “an ingrained habit” (ibid.) to execute music in a way that corresponds to his perception of sense data (e.g., the social situation), giving meaning to his every expression. The second part (Chapters 6–7) examines how cognitive processes bear on musical expression from repertoire to pitch selection. While performances exhibit an overall sameness, small differences are significant in understanding intention and reveal a correlation between embodied knowledge, mental activity and musical choices which the analysis aims to demonstrate. While the traditional musician does not seem to speculate upon what he does, nor verbalize it, what he does on his guembri reveals an instinct or habit that naturally organizes perception. “What we know and hence expect [or do not expect] influences what we perceive, that is, the way in which the mind groups and organizes the sense data presented to it” (Meyer 1956:77), which thus determines appropriateness of musical expression, its intent. By mapping patterns to specific situations, the research may explicate the meaning of particular musical performances. Chapter 2 introduces the reader to the world of the Gnawa and the ideological  36  framework that governs the sacred occasion. Employing the musical repertoire and its macro-structure as a representation of this framework, I discuss the worldview which the ceremony enacts and encodes, and the signification of its two common names: lila and derdeba—the former of which prescribes the time for the sacred event, the latter the importance of dance. Subsequently, I investigate the function of music in the lila, its message, and how it effectuates possession trance. Chapter 3 describes the socio-cultural and historical background in two sections: the social structure and identity of the Gnawa community, and the social context of the Gnawa and their music in Morocco. The following two chapters analyze the structures of Gnawa musical performance. In Chapter 4, the musical idiom with regard to tuning, pitch, time organization, and motivic structure and form are abstracted. After an overview of performance occasions and settings for Gnawa music in the first section of Chapter 5, section two describes a normative structure of a sacred occasion that is juxtaposed with the Gnaoua and World Music Festival. Distinctions made between leadership, audience, duration and location, arrangement and performance structure, together with the cultural and musical background, set up the detailed analysis of performance. Chapters 6 and 7 investigate how instrumental music processes correlate to the larger scale structures such as setting, repertoire selection and sequencing. Chapter 6 examines the interactive processes between the m‘allem and moqaddema in a mimetic performance of Sidi Musa. Here I map musical processes to trance progression, including dance gestures, and identify variation types. In Chapter 7, I unveil subtle differences in musical choices that potentially signify intent; that is, music played for spirit possession or for aesthetic pleasure. I focus on a single piece titled Ghumami performed in a sacred and secular context by the  37  same ritual master. Key differences between the two come to light. My conclusions reassemble what has been fragmented into discrete chapters. Within a broader context, I re-examine the impact of global forces on the identity of Gnawa music and its practioners, and changes in musical practices. Finally, I consider how music constructs meaning and how meaning is constructed through music and the agency of its performers.  38  Chapter 2 Gnawa Beliefs, Symbols, and Meaning Music is more than an object of study: it is a way of perceiving the world. A tool of understanding... It reflects the manufacture of society; it constitutes the audible waveband of the vibrations and signs that make up society. An instrument of understanding, it prompts us to decipher a sound form of knowledge. (Attali 1985:4)  2.1 Introduction  Like other trancing cultures in the world, music is fundamental to Gnawa spirit possession rituals. Music tells a story, reveals the perceptions of a society, and has symbolic associations. For music to do what it does on a psychological and physiological level it must hold a meaning specific to the culture. The performance of Gnawa music during the lila serves as a lens into a diasporic past, and of the socio-cultural and religious blending resulting from centuries of domination over the sub-Saharan people. The music alone signifies and recalls many things: syncretism of sub-Saharan animism and Islam, a history of displacement and slavery, a hierarchy of supernatural entities, specific supernatural entities, a progression of events (ritual process, dynamics of trance), a social structure, political hierarchy, and more. Though music in ritual constitutes an organic process, analysis enables one to decode metaphors and gain a deeper understanding of the knowledge embodied by practitioners of unwritten, lived music cultures. Geertz writes: “The sort of symbols (or symbol complexes) regarded by a people as sacred varies widely… all these patterns [of ritual practice] sum up most powerfully what it knows about living” (1957:427). Along similar lines, Hell writes:  39  I doubt the existence of an intellectualized cosmological system is imposed upon all members of a culture. I think that the key to symbolic efficacy rather is to research the existence of a common substrate of representations, a baggage of shared images that the rites are capable of mobilizing into concrete and pragmatic acts. The ritual [and music] in this regard is creator of meaning. (Hell 1999:15)  This chapter analyzes the worldview of the Gnawa through music and ritual, and subjects the lila to a brief analysis of mythical structure and ritual process. In the next chapter, I investigate the socio-cultural and historical background of the Gnawa with respect to its evolving practices. Together, this first part provides the context for the subsequent analysis.  2.2 Ideological Framework Early in my research, I recall a Gnawa friend saying: “There are jinn-s everywhere. They are among us right now. They are like you and me. We cannot see them but they can see us” (personal communication, Abderrahim, 2006). Not so long after, Moqaddema Zaida told me a story where one of her clients started hearing voices because he unknowingly mistreated a spirit that had taken the form of an animal. Throughout my research Gnawa belief in the existence of unseen beings mingling among humans on earth would be reiterated by the Gania family. “The mluk are always around. They hear everything” (personal communication, A. Gania, 2006); “They [the spirits] may live inside us but we do not know… they are like people, they may be good and bad, they may hurt you, they may help you… they desire things and we must give them what they want” (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2006). Hell explains: “the spirits eat, drink, they are jealous, there are leaders, they work, sleep, they get married, have children and die. Unlike humans, however, they are 40  polymorphic and possess the gift of ubiquity and hold occult powers that can alter the course of events and the destiny of man” (1999:115). Harmony must therefore be maintained between the temporal and supernatural worlds. This is achieved through ritual offerings (e.g., fragrances, foods, spirit possession), which propitiate the spirits, and appropriate daily conduct that avoids the risk of inciting their wrath. Neglect or transgression could have severe repercussions, particularly for initiates and their family members. Uttering Islamic phrases is believed to ward off any unintentional wrongdoing, such as accidentally slamming a door or spilling boiling water. Si Mohammed cautioned me not to spill hot water at night and wrote down an Islamic verse to recite if I were to be so careless (personal communication, M. Outanine, 2009). Furthermore, they believe that spirits reside in or near water such as drains. “You always have to be careful when you pour boiling water down the drain… because a jinn might be there, and you don’t want to accidentally scald him or her. You say ‘Bismillah,’ ‘in the name of God,’ first” (Kapchan in Byre 2009). Over a century ago, Westermarck noted that “as soon as it gets dark… a Moor will carefully abstain from pouring out hot water on the ground” (1899:253). The belief in jinn-s, however, is not limited to Gnawa. Westermarck contends:  [It] forms a very important part of the actual creed of the Muhammedan population of Morocco, Arab and Berber alike. It pervades all classes, and though some of the more enlightened Moors are inclined to represent it as a superstition of the ignorant, I doubt whether there is anyone who does not practically adhere to it. (Westermarck 1899:252)  The difference between Gnawa and non-Gnawa lies in their behavior and attitudes towards jinn-s. A “simple and fundamental congruence” (Geertz 1957:424) between the Gnawa ethos and Gnawa worldview “complete one another and lend one another meaning” (ibid.). Geertz  41  continues:  The force of a religion in supporting social values rests, then, on the ability of its symbols to formulate a world in which those values, as well as the forces opposing their realization, are fundamental ingredients. It represents the power of the human imagination to construct an image of reality in which, to quote Max Weber, “events are not just there and happen, but they have a meaning and happen because of that meaning.” The need for such a metaphysical grounding for values seems to vary quite widely in intensity from culture to culture and from individual to individual, but the tendency to desire some sort of factual basis for one’s commitments seems practically universal; mere conventionalism satisfies few people in any culture. However its role may differ at various times, for various individuals, and in various cultures, religion, by fusing ethos and worldview, gives to a set of social values what they perhaps most need to be coercive: an appearance of objectivity. (Geertz 1957:426–27)  2.2.1 Islamic Reverence and Reference  Islam and the omnipotence of Allah form a significant part of the Gnawa worldview. Despite believing in their African spirits and practicing rituals of spirit possession, Gnawa consider themselves devout Muslims, no different from their neighbors. Music of the lila embodies the blending of beliefs and practices and delineates the hierarchy of the unseen world (Figure 2.1). In every ritual occasion Allah and the Prophet Mohammed are honored first before the invocation of supernatural entities. Panegyric songs for their patron saint Bilal are also sung in the early portion of the lila. Although invocation of the African spirits are the climax of the lila, this foremost veneration of Allah, his Prophet, and other Islamic saints affirms their unequivocal authority and influence over the forces of the pantheon and over the Gnawa themselves. According to Dermenghem, “Sidi Bilal [was] the muezzin of the Prophet, the Abyssinian slave freed by Mohammed from the persecutors of Mecca, one of the first five Muslims, one of the most revered Companions. There is no more venerable an 42  Allah The Prophet  Bilal Gnawa Pantheon  Islamic saints  African spirits  Gnawa  temporal realm  Figure 2.1 Hierarchy of the supernatural and its relation with the temporal realm enacted by the Gnawa belief system.  Islamic reference” (1953:320-21). And Schuyler writes: “The multiplicity of their beliefs is resolved in the character of their patron saint, Bilāl” (Grove Music Online, 2008). The names of Allah and the Prophet are heard repeatedly throughout the course of the lila, and their presence alongside African spirits suggests both the omnipresence of Allah and the syncretism of their beliefs and practices as illustrated by the excerpt below:1 M‘allem: Ahel bab Allah (People of the door of God) Chorus: Ya la ilaha illa Allah l-Ghumami (There is no God but Allah, Ghumami) Ya la ilaha illa Allah l-Ghumami M‘allem: Ahel lnuba ya l-Ghumami (People are waiting their turn, Oh Ghumami) Chorus: Ahel lnuba ya l-Ghumami Ya la ilaha illa Allah l-Ghumami (There is no God but Allah, Ghumami) Ah la ilaha illa Allah l-Ghumami  An excerpt of “Ghumami” as performed by M‘allem Abdallah. This piece was translated with the help of Si Mohammed Outanine. 1  43  The phrase “People of the door of Allah” references both African spirits and Islam in a single line. The people (i.e., the guardians) signify the African cohort of supernatural entities Sidi Mimun and Lalla Mimuna, and Allah is the Islamic referent for God. In the next line of the chorus, the profession of faith to Islam (shahada), “There is no God but Allah,” is followed by an invocation of Ghumami, the name of an African supernatural entity. Just as in the Americas, elements of West African culture entered Morocco and its North African neighbors through slavery.2 Dermenghem writes of the sub-Saharan brotherhoods in Algeria:3  In North Africa, the genies of Sudan [i.e., West Africa] found Arab and Berber genies with whom they were compatible. They all became the rijal Allah, men of God, and the brotherhoods that cultivated their presence placed them under the aegis of Sidi Bilal. (Dermenghem 1953:320) Unlike the Sufi who “strives to bridge the gulf between... [God and man] through the dynamic force of love... leading ultimately to union (wisal) with God” (Qureshi 1995:79-80), the Gnawa’s reiteration of Allah’s names and their faith in Islam, however, does not serve this end (see Chapter 3). Adorcism is the central concept of the Gnawa ritual; that is, accommodating the supernatural entities of their pantheon through possession of the human body. Indeed, personal effort and baraka determine one’s alliance with the mluk; however, all happens under the protection and will of Allah.  2  Centuries earlier sub-Saharans in their homeland made Islam (and the religions of their conquerors) their own by incorporating it into their indigenous practices. 3 Sub-Saharan populations were brought to various regions in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia where they formed similar communities and took on distinct names such as the Gnawa, Bilali, and Stambeli, respectively. 44  2.2.2 Gnawa Pantheon  The Gnawa pantheon comprises Islamic and local saints, “entities of a secret identity” (Hell 1999:117) associated with the sub-Saharan forest, and “classic spirits whose ‘characters’ are known by all” (ibid.).4 They live in the air, water, and in particular places like the slaughterhouse, and have chromatic, olfactory, and musical identities. These supernatural entities are categorized into two main groups: salihin and mluk.5 Salihin means holy ones or saints,6 men whose deeds and miraculous powers on earth rendered them spiritual beings after their death. The salihin comprise Islamic and Berber saints whose holy sites are found around Morocco.7 The Gnawa term, mluk, generally refers to the powerful and dangerous entities of the sub-Sahara. While distinct in their meaning, these terms are somewhat ambiguous as entities may have qualities and capabilities of the other.8 Saints, like mluk (sub-Saharan spirits), “have the baraka and supernatural powers… according to Gnawa beliefs, to intervene in visible and invisible worlds” (Chlyeh 1999:43) and possess adepts in a way that leads to miraculous performances which may require the use of accessories. Mluk are not saints yet some, like Islamic saints, have holy sites in Morocco. The totality of the pantheon is often referred to as “mluk,” as is the possession phase of the ritual devoted to their invocation. A hierarchy exists among the salihin and mluk. At the highest level, they correspond chromatically to the Whites and Blacks (Hell 2002:118, 141), similar to the Stambeli saints 4  Genies belonging to the Algerian Bilali bear resemblance to the Gnawa supernatural entities (Dermenghem 1953:323). 5 Other supernatural entities are believed to exist that are not associated with the Gnawa pantheon. Some spirits are considered to be evil and only do harm (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2007). 6 Hell refers to the saints by the Arabic term walî (2001:171). 7 Berber entities include Lalla Meryem, Lalla Batoûl Sayssi, Lalla Jouhra, and Lalla Mira. 8 Gnawa do not always draw a fine line between salihin or mluk. 45  SALIHIN (saints)  MLUK (possessors)  Whites  Mulay Abdelqader Jilali  Blacks  Blues  Sidi Musa (water) Reds Sidi Hamu (abattoir) Shorfa (descendants of the Ulad Agh-Ghaba (sons of the Blacks Prophet) Forest) Yellows: Lalla Mira (sugar/pleasure, female)  Greens  Sidi Mimun and Lalla Mimuna  Figure 2.2 Colors, leaders, domain and affiliation of the salihin and mluk.  and spirits of Tunisia (Jankowsky 2010). They are respectively governed by Mulay Abdelqader Jilali,9 the powerful protector saint and bearer of the way, and Sidi Mimun and Lalla Mimuna, guardians to the door of ancient Sudan—home of the powerful and dangerous sub-Saharan spirits. The Gnawa conceive of the salihin and mluk as organized into mhallat (cohorts) identified by leadership, affiliation or domain, and color (Figure 2.2). Falling under the “Whites” are the multi-colored Bu Hala, the vagabonds of God led by Buderabela;10 Sidi Musa, master of the water spirits, associated with blue; and the Shorfa, descendants of the Prophet Mohammed and other saints symbolized by green or white. The “Blacks” comprise Sidi Hamu, master of the abattoir, dressed in red; and Ulad Agh-Ghaba (Sons of the Forest), symbolized by black. L‘Ayalet, the female spirits generically associated with yellow which is the color of their leader Lalla Mira, is a cohort unlike the others with regard to gender, the light atmosphere, and function (Pâques 1991; Hell 2002; and Claisse 2003).11 Their invocations end the lila and signify procreation (rather than death); that is, rebirth of the  9  Alternate spelling and names include Mulay Abdel Qadir Jilali and Mulay Abdelqader Jilani. Although multi-colored, the Bu Hala are usually considered part of the same cohort as Mulay Abdelqader Jilali. 11 Other colors corresponding to other female spirits are present during the invocation of L‘ayalet, such as red, white, and black. 10  46  adepts following the symbolic deaths associated with each possession (see Section 2.4).12 For these reasons I have categorized them as neither salihin nor mluk, but spirits “who steer souls towards the land of light… using coquetry, theft and sugar as bait” (Pâques 1991:307). Music of the lila, therefore, is music of and for the mluk. A suite consists of individual pieces that call upon different spirits belonging to a single mhalla. Together the suites constitute the possession repertoire. Spiritual hierarchy dictates the order and is realized in the structure of the music performance (Chapter 5).13 Although regional variations exist, a balance of forces is generally observed in the regular oscillation between salihin and mluk.  2.2.3 Significance of Lila and Derdeba  The lila is also commonly referred to as derdeba.14 These two terms are used interchangeably by scholars and Gnawa, and though synonymous in their reference they have distinct meanings. Lila literally signifies “night.” This term may be construed as the time of day when the ritual occasion is to take place, since ceremonies begin after sundown and end at or soon after dawn. Among trancing cultures, the cycle of day and night within a twentyfour hour period circumscribes the time for the seen and unseen. Among the Yoruba, for  12  Details of the Gnawa pantheon have been covered by Gnawa scholars including Pâques (1991), Chlyeh (1999), Lapassade (1999), Hell (2002), and Claisse (2003). 13 Possession trance rituals of American counterparts such as Afro-Cuban Santería (Hagedorn 2001), Haitian Vodou (Métraux 1972; Wilcken 1992), and Brazilian Candomblé (Bastide 1978; Wafer 1991); and of Africa including the Bori of Nigeria (Besmer 1983), Stambeli of Tunisia (Jankowsky 2010) and Bilali of Algeria (Dermenghem 1953) also invoke a pantheon of supernatural entities or deities according to a prescribed order. 14 On the one hand, Pâques explains that a lila is composed of three parts, one of which is the derdeba; on the other, the derdeba is divided into three parts, one of which is the lila (1991:259). Chlyeh employs the terms together as in “lila of derdeba” which signifies the night (lila) of the possession ritual (derdeba) (1999:96). 47  example, “occasions involving the interpenetration of realms are most appropriate at night, when spirits are thought to be most attentive” (Drewal and Drewal 1983:11).15 M‘allem Mohammed Chaouqi says, “The jnun come out at night, not during the day” (in Kapchan 2007:125). Westermarck asserts that “the chief abode of the ĝinn is the under-world… a corollary from the belief that they live in the dark and disappear at daybreak” (1899:260), while in the Quran (Sura 113, The Daybreak) it is recorded: “I betake me for refuge to the Lord of the DAYBREAK… against the mischief of the night when it overtaketh me” (Jones 1999:430).16 The belief that the night is the time of the jinn-s and the Muslim’s fear of them runs so deep that “a man… moved out from his house [believed to be inhabited by the ĝnûn] regularly every night” (Westermarck 1899:253). A defining factor between the Gnawa devoted to Lalla Mimuna and the Gnawa devoted to Sidna Bilal is the time of day for their musical activity, which is also symbolically associated with the instruments they use. The former perform their rituals during daylight hours and, unlike the latter, do not engage in nights of spirit possession. Their main instrument is the tbel; the guembri, considered the instrument of the mluk (and of the night), does not figure in their ceremonies. Though guembri motives resound in the medina at all hours today, traditionally it was only played after dark because of its sonorous ability to attract the mluk. The calling of spirits and their manifestation at night has also been noted in a number of other trancing cultures. 15  For example, the Balinese Hindu believe that the day is the time for humans and the night the time for the unseen. This may be observed by their usually limited evening activities and quiet streets, particularly in the villages. Unless there are preparations for a ceremony or special annual activities, people generally remain at home lest one risks crossing a spirit’s path. This reluctance and wariness to go out at night seems to have diminished in the cities and among the younger generations. Even in the villages and among the older generations there are those who disregard potential dangers. 16 Westermarck writes: “a Moor’s fear of the ĝnûn practically commences with the twilight… he will not venture to walk at night… Everywhere [Egypt, Mecca, in the East, Morocco, Arabian desert] the ĝinn are feared chiefly in the dark” (1899:253, 260). 48  Pre-possession portion  Possession portion (invocation of mluk)  Figure 2.3 Proportion of ritual dedicated to the mluk. While the possession portion is shown here to be twice as long as the pre-possession, it may last three or four times longer depending on the ritual situation. The three textured blocks correspond to the three acts of the ceremony that are distinguished by instrumentation, repertoire, dance and function. Note that the pre-possession portion comprises two acts.  Naming the ceremony “night,” therefore, suggests that the occasion not only takes place at night but that it serves the mluk. Effectively, Gnawa musical activity is centered on an official request for their presence which begins by inviting them (and us) during the procession, entertaining them (and us) with pre-possession dances, before finally calling on them to communicate and interact with the human world. Like in the Yoruba ritual where “[t]he principle focus and a substantial portion of the musical content are the oriki of the divinities... description of his/her attributes, characteristics, temperament and supernatural powers” (Euba 1988:11), during the lila the largest proportion of ritual time is devoted to the mluk (Figure 2.3).17 The experiential nature of the ritual is addressed by the term derdeba. It signifies the“loud sound of stamping of feet” (Hell 2002:79),18 or, derived from the verb derdeb, “the action of ‘throwing’ or ‘falling’— which, in this case, refers to another plane of reality” (in  17  Comprising over one hundred pieces, musical icons of the mluk form the majority of the entire Gnawa repertoire. Other pieces belong to the pre-possession repertoire of the lila. At Dar Gnawa in Tangiers, M‘allem Abdellah El Gourd charts 243 songs (Kapchan 2007). 18 Other interpretations include Goodman-Singh, who writes that “derdaba… has often been translated as ‘big noise’” (2002:78); Majdouli writes: “Derdeba literally signifies a regular, steady noise of human steps on the ground. The derdeba makes reference to the dance of the kouyou where the Gnawa execute codified steps by stamping their feet on the ground” (2007:20 [fn.1]). 49  Del Giudice et al. 2005:81).19 Both terms are related to possession and describe the actions of participants stamping to the rhythm of the music or being taken by the spirit. A stationary stepping motion of bare feet is, in fact, characteristic of Gnawa trance gestures. To be sure, adepts are already possessed by a spirit who remains dormant in the host’s body outside of the sacred occasion (cf. Friedson 1996:29). Music triggers ritual possession and facilitates it through dance, which again serves the mluk. The repetitive movement engenders possession and with increasing intensity may express the arrival of a spirit. Parallels may be drawn with Drewal and Drewal’s explanation of the significance of dance with regard to the Yoruba ritual: [V]oicing words… invokes vital force, bringing it into actual existence… Dance makes vital force visible. Carried further—into the Yoruba context [and Gnawa context]—dance is virtual power and is no less instrumental than the spoken word; it brings dynamic qualities into actual existence. (Drewal and Drewal 1983:105)  Taken together, lila and derdeba, or night and dance, signify the supernatural realm and possession—fundamental to the Gnawa religion in which music is the medium.  2.3 Music’s Affective and Effective Code “Music is the condition sine qua non of the trance experience” (Rouget 1985:324). Like other trancing cultures, music is indispensable to the success of the lila. In the AfroCuban Santería ritual, the singer directs songs to a practitioner on the verge of being During the Hamadsha hadra Crapanzano writes: “The patient is encouraged to fall into jidba…[‘Aisha’s] presence [a djinnya said to be under the ground]… explains why some dancers fall to the ground and kiss the dance floor” (1973:203). (cf. Westermarck who asserts: “the chief abode of the ĝinn is the under-world” (1899:260)). 19  50  possessed, the “[batá] drums intensif[y] responses, playing loudly and quickly […] These praise songs and batá rhythms are meant to bring the oricha to earth, so that it may speak through the body of the possessed devotee” (Hagedorn 2001:78, 80). In Sufi ceremonies such as Qawwali, “The singer’s aim is always to move, to arouse, to draw a listener toward his Sheikh, the saint, to God, and into the ecstasy of mystical union” (Qureshi 1995:4). Crapanzano defines rih-s played during the Hamadsha ceremony as the “highly ornamented musical phrases which drive the participants into trance” (1973:204). During the Gnawa lila, melodies played on the guembri are musical codes for supernatural entities who respond by taking possession of initiates. Pâques writes that “following the melody of the gumbri… is the best way for the soul of the adept to be caught in a veritable lack of allusions that induces him to fall” (1991:81). In his study of the relations between music and trance, Rouget looks at two aspects of music: the signifying side and the signified side. On the signified side, “when [the music] is specific to a particular deity, melodies played on an instrument have the same function as sung mottoes: they are call-signs. Indeed, these melodies often are mere instrumental versions of the sung mottoes which are deprived of their text; but, when they hear them, ‘men and gods also hear the words that relate to them’" (Rouch 1960: 135-36)” (1985:99).20 The musical motto, which varies across cultures “‘for each needs the airs of a melody known to him and phrases that he understands’” (Rousseau in ibid.:167-68), can thus be defined as a sign whose ‘signified’ is the supernatural entity to which it refers and whose ‘signifier’ has three facets: linguistic, musical (or instrumental), and choreographic.  Fuson writes: “The emotional component of the groove is sustained through the links between guinbri phrases and lyrics of the vocal section. Although no human voice continues to sing these lyrics, the guinbri’s melodies recall them and keep them sounding” (2009:432). 20  51  Similar to the distinctive sound patterns for the orishas of Cuban Yoruba, orixás of Bahian Candomblé, iwas of Haitian Vodou, and vimbuza of Malawi Tumbuka, which act as a type of “‘speech surrogacy’ [and] serve as the imagined ‘voices’” (Henry 2008:66) of and for specific spirits, the motives are symbolic of the mluk in a dual sense—as musical identities and as the “voice of the mluk” (Fuson 2009). On one hand, the guembri attracts the mluk by sounding their musical identities, effectively calling their names; on the other, these patterns function as musemes (Tagg 2004) calling on the adepts.21 Upon hearing the motto of their spirit possessor, adepts exhibit emotional responses (intense feelings, tears, horripilation) which engender a physical response in the form of the desire to get up and dance. The combined texture of the guembri, voice, and qraqab facilitates the dynamics of trance (Chapter 6).22 Sung text in the early portion of the invocation process renders the identity of the melk explicit to the ritual community, regardless of experience and knowledge. Aside from the choral response and refrain, words sung by the m‘allem tend to be obscure (cf. Jankowsky 2010). Pâques (1991) suggests an intentionality to obscure and allude, which plays a part in affective response and the onset of possession. The increasing tempo and dynamics and the musical cues of the instrumental portion sustain possession leading to transformation of the willing Gnawa adept. Upon arrival of the spirit, the guembri, like the  Museme was first coined by Seeger to signify a “unit of three components — three tone beats — [which] can constitute two progressions and meet the requirements for a complete, independent unit of music-logical form or mood” (in Tagg 2004:1). According to Tagg, despite the problems associated with Seeger’s notion, “it at least focuses attention on musical-structural detail and on the relation of such detail to life ‘outside’ music” (ibid.:19). 22 Becker (2004) takes a neurophysiological approach to the study of trance and suggests that music/participant interactions are culturally determined. She borrows the term of “‘structural coupling’ … used to describe [the] enactive, biological perspective on music, trance, and emotion.. [which claims that we are constantly changed by our interactions with the world while simultaneously changing that world.] Rhythmic entrainment is re-presented as an enactment of social structural coupling” (2004: 11). 21  52  adept, becomes possessed and “speaks with the voice of the mluk” (Fuson 2009:111),23 directing and supporting the movements of the dancer. Fuson observes:  The lynchpin of Gnawa music is the expression of the guinbri, which speaks with the voice of the mluk. While the rhythmic accompaniment of clapping or qraqeb and the antiphonal strains of Gnawa singing are essential to the flow and feel of tagnawit,24 their importance is ultimately secondary to that of the guinbri in terms of achieving the desired expression of jadba. Indeed, in climactic moments of trances, both singing and even rhythmic accompaniment are often abandoned to yield the entire musical texture to the guinbri and the trancing body in co-enunciative expression. (Fuson 2009:111) Rouget points out that as a general rule “in cults in which the music for possession dance is both instrumental and vocal, the instrumental music always prevails and is always more continuous than the vocal” (1985:104). The sonic atmosphere is crucial to the ritual and may even suffice to trigger possession trance;25 however, the proper procedure for bringing the supernatural world into the human realm requires an immersion of all senses—smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound— which correspond to the mluk and signify their sensory preferences (Chapter 5). Engendering trance by way of appropriate offerings has a dual function: preparation of the adept and propitiation of the mluk. Ritual success, however, depends foremost on the musical offering  Fuson says that the guembri “undergoes an ontological change from its status during the Fraja [when it begins to speak in the Mluk phase]” (2009:433). 24 According to Kapchan, “Gnawa-ness is an awkward translation of the word tagnawit [or tagnaouite], which may be more loosely translated as ‘Gnawa authenticity,’ ‘Gnawa identity,’ or even ‘Gnawa culture.’ It stands for Gnawa knowledge as practiced, its epistemology” (2007:22, emphasis in original). For Fuson, “an appropriate translation… is Gnawa ritual practice… [or] the craft of the Gnawi” (2009:17-18). The latter of which is similar to M‘allem Abdallah’s use of the term to reference the practice (or style) particular to a region, as in tagnawit Souiri (of Essaouira) (personal communication, 2009). 25 Kapchan (2007:49) writes about a woman who fell when she heard her spirit’s tune play on the television. Pâques, however, has never observed incidents where possession arises in such mediated forms (1991:286). 23  53  in the form of appropriate musical codes executed on the guembri and the psychology of listening. Pâques relates:  [T]here are two manners of listening to music: one normally, with the ears, and the other, mystically, with the ears of the spirit allowing oneself to be carried by the horses gallop. A young adept asked one day: “What is music?” and gave the definition he had learned in the Larousse Encyclopedia at college: “Music is a collection of sounds pleasing to the ear.” Stupefied the meallam ironically said, “nice,” and corrected: “music is what brings the soul into the body of man.” (Pâques 1991:221)  2.4 Mythical Structure, Ritual Process, and Ritualization  To shed some light on the meaning and function of the lila, I employ the theories of Levi-Strauss (1963) and Victor Turner (1969). While contemporary concepts of ritual study exist, such as Kapferer’s (2005) “ritual dynamics” which de-emphasizes macro-structure in favor of micro-forces and processes building on Turner’s “ritual process,” and Bloch’s (1992) theory of a “rebounding violence” structure of ritual that functions to overcome and resolve a paradoxical transience/permanence dichotomy intrinsic to the human condition, I find that combining the classic modern perspectives of Levi-Strauss’s mythical structure and Turner’s ritual process aptly explicates the ideology of the Gnawa lila for the purpose of this chapter. Finally, I touch upon Pâques’ cosmogonic perspective and the pertinence of Bell’s (1992) “ritualization of activity” approach, which integrates practice theory and concepts of power for understanding human actions (i.e., what rituals do and how they are used to construct power relations). According to Levi-Strauss, the socio-cultural phenomenon of ritual may be understood through the deep structure of myths. He contends “that mythical thought always  54  works from the awareness of oppositions towards their progressive mediation” (1955:440) and that “the purpose of myth is to provide a logical model capable of overcoming a contradiction” (ibid.:443). In essence, the deep structure comprises a provocation-mediationmetaphor sequence, within which “underlying paradigms, typically binary in nature” (Dundes 1997:43) exist. Levi-Strauss proposes triadic relationships associated with all myths—that is, binary structures (e.g., natural categories of raw/cooked) and intermediary elements (e.g., cultural agents such as the cook) that function as links to the two poles in a process of socialization. In the following, I consider three versions of Gnawa mythical origins, in which the characters are the Prophet Mohammed, his daughter Lalla Fatima Zohra, his son-in-law (and nephew) Sidi Ali (i.e., Lalla Fatima’s husband), and Bilal.26  Version 1: Lalla Fatima, irritated by the way her father dealt with a situation (see Pâques 1991:52–53 for details), locks herself in her room. Bilal intervenes. He adorns himself with similar ritual paraphernalia used by the Gnawa today, “cowry shells worn across his chest… [and] a red checia embroidered with cowry shells to which he attaches the tail of a bull” (Pâques 1991:53). Dancing as he plays the qraqab all the way to her room, he succeeds in making her laugh. Her grudge assuaged, Bilal brings Lalla Fatima to see her father who happily says to Bilal, “Your bones (your children) will never be thrown to hell” (ibid.).  Version 2: Lalla Fatima, after having fought with her husband Sidi Ali, takes refuge in a grotto enclosed by seven magical doors. The Prophet sends Bilal to reconcile the relationship between his daughter and nephew. “Bilal equipped with the instrument [qraqab] he just invented, started dancing while turning and making funny faces... Fatima Zohra laughed and opened the seven doors. Thus Bilal having reconciled the couple, invented the ‘game’ of 26  For symbolic associations of Bilal, see Pâques (1991:52–55). 55  dance belonging to the Gnawa” (M‘allem Si-Mohamed in Claisse 2003:96).  Version 3: Lalla Fatima, having fought with her husband, refuses to leave her room (Dermenghem 1953:331). Bilal invents the qraqab and dances. “Lalla Fatima laughs, leaves her room and follows Bilal until she finds herself before her husband” (ibid.).  In all versions, the provocation is associated with someone close that leads to anger, pain, and isolation. This emotional disturbance may be conceived as an internal imbalance which takes the external form of disharmony between daughter/father and wife/husband. The mediation is music and dance performed by an emancipated sub-Saharan Muslim man (a convert) that resolves anger to laughter, pain to relief, and isolation to unity. The metaphor is that music (and dance) performed by Gnawa (sub-Saharan Muslims) who are endowed with baraka (like Bilal) combat the action and emotions of negative forces by healing or alleviating the body (within) and cultivating harmony and serenity among the community (without) (Figure 2.4). According to Pâques, “the gumbri is the sultan, or Allah, and the player [m‘allem] is Bilal, his slave. [...] Bilal… makes Lalla Fatima Zohra laugh and which, according to legend acts as a connection... between her and the Prophet [with whom she was angry]” (1991:220), or in Version 2 and 3, between her and her husband. Furthermore, Bilal’s intervention, upon the request of the Prophet, overcomes the contradiction between music as healing and “music as dangerous and unlawful” (Qureshi 1995:82) and between sub-Saharan and Islamic practices. According to Attali:  56  Mediation Bilal music dance  Provocation anger pain separation isolation  Resolution laughter relief unity inclusion  Figure 2.4 Mythical structure.  The musician, like music, is ambiguous. He plays a double game. He is simultaneously musicus and cantor, reproducer and prophet. […] the primal identity magic-music-sacrifice-rite expresses the musician’s position in the majority of civilizations: simultaneously excluded (relegated to a place near the bottom of the social hierarchy) and superhuman (the genius, the adored and deified star). Simultaneously a separator and an integrator […] mythology endowed musicians with supernatural and civilizing powers… The medicinal powers of music made musicians into therapists: Pythagoras and Empedocles cured the possessed, and Ismenias cured sciatica. David cured Saul’s madness by playing the harp. (Attali 1985:12–13, emphases in original)  A ritual process, according to Levi-Strauss (1963), is but a mirror of a mythical structure; the former delimited by time (horizontal relationships) and the latter by space (vertical relationships). Employing Levi-Strauss’s notion of binary oppositions, I extract metaphoric, static dyads and metonymic dynamic dyads plotted on longitudinal (spatial) and latitudinal (temporal) axes (Figure 2.5)—for example, heaven/earth and nature/culture, and anger  laughter, pain  relief, separation  unity, isolation  inclusion, sick  healthy.  57  Liminal (ambiguous)  METAPHORIC DYADS (IMPLICIT) heaven death universe unseen  2 earth  life  man  seen  1 Pre-liminal (preparation)  3 Post-liminal (stable, endowed)  DYNAMIC DYADS (EXPLICIT) sick altered bad fortune ignorance patients  healthy unaltered good fortune enlightenment healers  Figure 2.5 Binary oppositions extracted from the mythical structure (Levi-Strauss 1963) and ritual process (Turner 1969) of the Gnawa lila. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)  Ritual, music, and trance, under the guidance of Gnawa practitioners form the intermediary element that bridges binary oppositions on the one hand, and resolves them on the other. Implicitly, the ritual performance enacts and validates the metaphoric dyads that are lived daily among the Gnawa. Explicitly, they treat metonymic dyads. The explicit goals of a lila are accomplished through a threefold progression of successive ritual stages classified by Turner (1969) as pre-liminal, liminal, and post-liminal. For example, in a lila held for the purposes of healing, the sick person traverses the three stages, processed by music and enacted in trance, to arrive at good health (Figure 2.5). How  58  Entire lila Possession portion Individual piece  Pre-Liminal  Liminal  Post-Liminal  PREPARATION  AMBIGUOUS  pre-possession - of ceremony ftuh ar-rahba - of sacred space prelude/vocal invocation - of adept  possession - situation salihin and mluk - situation instrumental music - state  NONAMBIGUOUS/ STABLE post possession - rebirth l‘ayalet - rebirth cadence - return/rebirth  Figure 2.6 Macro- and micro- level of Turner’s ritual stages as embodied in the lila.  this works may be analyzed at different levels of the ritual process as shown in Figure 2.6. The first phase serves as preparation at macro- and micro-levels; that is, to prepare the ceremonial event through invitation of the unseen and seen, the sacred space by consecrating the floor, and the adepts with musemes. In creating a space for the invisible world to enter, the performance can be seen as an act of detachment from the temporal world. In the second ritual stage, spirit possession takes place in the form of abstract and figurative dances. Here, the human and spirit realms interact and merge, and adepts take on the identities of the mluk. Pâques refers to this stage as the invocation of genies who “cut throats” (1991:259), bringing (temporary) death upon the adept, as they take over the body, now but an empty vessel. This disavowal of one’s body is seen as a kind of sacrifice. Participants enter an ambiguous situation and state which Turner designates the liminal phase. Floating between invisible and visible worlds, between spirit and human, adepts enact liminality in their dance, evoked and subdued by the music and musicians and overseen by the moqaddema and her assistants. Finally, in the post-liminal phase—that is, the end of the entire ceremony, possession portion  59  or individual dance—participants re-enter a stable, non-ambiguous state endowed with baraka. At the end of the possession portion, entities who guide procreation (the feminine spirits) are invoked. The function of the Gnawa lila is two-fold: to communicate with the mluk, and to propitiate them in the hopes of securing or restoring equilibrium between visible and invisible realms. A practice of adorcism, the lila serves as an offering to the supernatural entities and simultaneously enacts and affirms the duality lived daily among the Gnawa. Lilas, performed for different reasons such as calendrical rites, festivals, and therapy (see Chapter 5), are structured to serve the mluk as well as the participants. While the ritual sequence maintains a degree of invariance, there is flexibility which permits modification should special social situations arise (Chapter 5). The various triadic and dyadic relationships that have emerged from this brief exercise suggest that the lila is a mirror of the Gnawa myth in which Bilal, music, and dance constitute the mediator of underlying binary structures and in which entities are grouped and arranged with regard to their place in the cosmos. For Pâques, who takes a cosmogonic approach, the lila is “a dramatization of the vicissitudes of heaven and earth, which are also those of man” (1991:255). She explains that “[the] function [of the possession portion] is to give present form to the cosmic events that made the world break into seven parts parallel to the seven colors” (1978:328). The adept (Levi-Strauss’s intermediary element) is the dynamic mediator of the ritual, one who mediates the dichotomy of life and death. Struggling to survive, he/she kills the self (symbolic sacrifice of possession trance) in order to achieve such a goal. Zempléni writes: “in order to let oneself be invested by, then fused with, one’s double… one must erase the  60  foundations of one’s own identity, one must die” (in Rouget 1985:89). A dynamic transformation results over the course of several “static” transformations (possessions or lila-s) through which elements acquire characteristics that are opposites of their initial ones; that is, aggressive becomes passive, sick becomes healthy. During possession dance, androgynous God (represented by the adept) is sacrificed in order to separate the masculine and feminine element and cut them into seven fragments, purified with each successive possession, and finally reconstituted—resurrected at the end of the ritual through (smaller) successive cycles of deaths and rebirths, and transformed to “luminous gold” (Pâques 1991:255).27 As such, the lila is an “alchemic operation… Simply formulated, the Gnawa say: ‘the derdeba is the birth of a soul’” (ibid.). At the end of the ritual (or after many rituals), the adept attains baraka which is manifested by good health, refinement, enlightenment, and freedom. During the lila, depending on the experience of the possessed and their relationship with the spirits, baraka may take the form of temporary recovery from an illness such as paralysis, mimetic dance, miraculous performance, or mediumship. According to Bell’s framework of ritualization, the lila is a highly ritualized activity. It contains all the key elements of ritualization—formalism, traditionalism, invariance, rulegoverned, sacral symbolism, and performance—“setting some activities off from others… creating and privileging a qualitative distinction between ‘sacred’ and ‘profane,’ and… ascribing such distinctions to realities thought to transcend the powers of human actors” (Bell 1992:74). The foregoing has focused on sacral symbolism, with a mention of the other elements in passing, which are treated in subsequent chapters. Moving beyond the Geerztian The seven fragments are “parallel to the seven types of genies subdivided according to the seven colors which are representative of the seven categories of the universe” (Pâques 1978:328). Pâques explains that “the man possessed by all the genies splits into sixty four fragments… the gumbri reassembles all the scattered fragments and it is ‘as if man has just been born’” (1991:284). For a more detailed semiotic analysis of the lila including the earlier portions see Pâques (1991:255–311) 27  61  window on the Gnawa worldview, we see that ritual, rather than a separate category or type of activity, is a “flexible and strategic way of acting” (Bell 1997:138). Bound by the common fate of captivity and displacement, Gnawa society emerged to unify sub-Saharans in Morocco, construct a new community, and to heal the pain of slavery, loss, and exile through rituals of music and dance. The early phase of the lila (Act 2, see Chapter 5) is itself a highly ritualized act of re-telling, re-constructing, and re-living an imagined past common to all Gnawa. Empowered in their solidarity, the final phase (Act 3) works to communicate, interact, explain, alleviate, and heal through ritualized acts of bodily possession. Ritual efficacy, achieved through music and manifested by the presence of supernatural entities, validates the Gnawa society by affirming beliefs, practices, authority and power, and community relations. It contributes to the integration of society (solidarity; social well-being) and to the continuity and stability of their culture—human and spirit bonds are re-affirmed, balance maintained and restored, beliefs and actions preserved and passed on to younger generation. Furthermore, the success of a lila re-negotiates and re-orchestrates existing social-cultural situations leading to empowerment; for example, from low to higher social status and from denigrated to appreciated). Hell writes:  One important function of divination rituals is to clearly express the opposition between the established order of humans... and world harmony which depends largely on the mysterious will of the spirits... Denouncing individual faults is a means to avoid the harm and misfortune that may come upon the entire community. […] The Gnawa are not simple healers but the truly possessed, that is, messengers of the invisible: like shamans, their social function is primarily to make any misfortune conceivable, whatever the particular form it takes. Cataclysm, social disorder or a simple domestic incident, no matter! In all cases, men want to understand and to act. And here, only the logic of the committed fault, voluntary or not, gives meaning and re-establishes man as the actor of his destiny. (Hell 1999:99,102–103)  62  In Chapters 3 and 5, I discuss how ritual and ritualization constructs and is constructed by power relations.  63  Chapter 3 Gnawa Social Structure, Identity, and Context 3.1 Social Structure and Identity  No different from other Moroccans, the majority of Moroccan Gnawa hold jobs outside of their ritual sphere, while only a few live as professional musicians. The men may be carpenters, artists, instrument makers, boutique owners, clerks at the bus station, or fishermen, while the women may work as hairdressers, massage therapists, or in housekeeping. The current generation of Gnawa children attends school with the goal of acquiring college diplomas or university degrees, their parents hoping that education will give their children a brighter future than their own, granting them more opportunities and stability in an increasingly economically demanding society.1 Talented Gnawa men and women may moonlight as musicians for secular occasions, their children often in tow. On a regular day, the social structure of the Gnawa society is obscure to the outside observer. During sacred occasions, however, distinctions among members, beyond the gender differences already observed in Moroccan society, are illuminated. This section examines social structure and identity, and considers recent changes with regard to status and roles of the m‘allem and moqaddema, kinship ties, membership, transmission, training, and obligations. Roles specific to the sacred lila are discussed in Chapter 5.  1  Unemployment among Morocco youth (15-24 years old) is at 22% (Central Intelligence Agency Internet resource. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mo.html. Accessed January 7, 2012)). 64  3.1.1 Leaders and Assistants  The leaders of the society and guardians of the tradition are the moqaddema and the m‘allem. As ritual masters and mediators between the human and spirit realms, their presence is vital to ritual practice. The moqaddema, as seer-therapist, mediates through embodiment by supernatural entities. The m‘allem as master musician does so through music, specifically through his musical skills on the guembri. In addition to being a seertherapist, the moqaddema officiates at the ceremony, which includes initiating and organizing the event—preparing all ritual necessities (incense, colored-veils, foods, accessories, objects) and contacting the m‘allem who possesses the musical instruments for the ritual and has access to musicians. Though less prominent than the m‘allem, she plays a key role in Gnawa society as an intermediary between humans and spirits, and between patients or adepts and the m‘allem (Figure 3.1 ). M‘allem Mokhtar once told me that so long as there are moqaddema-s there would continue to be lila-s and a need for m‘allem-s.  spirits  moqaddema  m‘allem  humans Figure 3.1 Moqaddema as mediator between spirits and humans, and patients and m‘allem-s.  65  The ritual masters each head their own groups which function as independent units that come together during sacred lila-s to perform specific duties for the occasion (Chapter 5). At the moqaddema’s disposal are ritual assistants (‘arifat) who function as an organization and management crew. The m‘allem leads an ensemble of six or more musicians collectively referred to as qarqabiya .2 A lila is considered effective when many trances take place, which depend largely upon the baraka of the mediators. The m‘allem and moqaddema are mutually dependent. Good m‘allem-s and moqaddema-s are said to possess baraka, which is demonstrated in two ways: by the number of spirit possessions that take place under their guidance and by their own performance of magical feats—the active and manifested aspect of divine grace. Engendering the suprahuman body depends on the dynamic interactive network of music, dance, and trance, and between the m‘allem and dancer/spirit who is often the moqaddema. The moqaddema initiates the lila which requires the musical skills of the m‘allem for ritual success. Each relies on the other to highlight and consolidate their abilities: the moqaddema’s mimetic dance displays the m‘allem’s musical skills to call on and tame the spirits, and the m‘allem’s musical skills engender the mastered trance of the moqaddema displaying her deep knowledge and alliance with the mluk. A moqaddema often works with the same m‘allem or m‘allem-s with whom she has established a rapport conducive to spirit possession, often a family member (husband or sibling) or someone who worked during their course of treatment toward becoming a moqaddema. The significance of these roles is captured by Pâques:  2  Theoretically, in association with the symbolic meanings of the number seven (Pâques 1991), a Gnawa ensemble consists of seven people, the m‘allem and his six accompanying musicians. In reality, ensembles number from five to more than ten musicians, usually larger in the lila and smaller in secular venues such as the festival. 66  The entire derdeba [lila] rests on the gumbri that evokes the genies and directs them on a fantastic cavalcade marked by the qarqab. The genies come at the call of the instrument and the bared feet of the moqaddem when he dances. A good maalem and a good moqaddem are “hot” people that “induce ascent.”3 Their quality is measured by the number of adepts that fall in trance and are possessed as soon as they begin. A lila without sacrifice and without a good moqqadem is “cold”: possessions are rare. (Pâques 1991:284, italics in original)  It is the combined baraka of both Gnawa masters, their synergy that bestows them with a higher social status and value, not to mention economic worth, among the ritual community and renders them in great demand for lila-s. This reputation spills over into the secular sphere where event organizers seek top master musicians of the trade. In Gnawa families such as the Ganias, it is common to find a husband-and-wife team. Gnawa scholar Chlyeh says that such teams are ideal. In addition to the mutual benefits, their union may be “interpreted as a demand by the mlouk and hence a source of baraka, the therapeutic effects of which are sought after by patients” (1999:48). M‘allem Boubeker and Moqaddema ‘Aisha, the parents of the Ganias recognized for their miraculous powers, were frequently called upon to work regular lila-s but also to invoke mluk others dared not (i.e., the Jewish cohort) and to perform the perilous act of exorcism—an extreme measure reserved for dire situations that only few masters are capable of undertaking (personal communications, Z. Gania, 2007, 2009 and A. Gania, 2009) (discussed in Section 3.2.2). M‘allem Mahmoud and Moqaddema Malika, as well as M‘allem Abdallah and Moqaddema Fadna, also form husband-and-wife teams. In the case of Moqaddema Zaida, she conducts  3  Supernatural entities are said to rise up in the bodies of the adepts. Footwear is removed before entering the sacred dance space, usually at the start of the possession phase. Pâques writes: “It is said that the genies are ants that rise from the earth” (1991:256). Among the Hamadsha, Crapanzano writes: “‘Aïsha Qandisha is said to be under the ground… [her] presence… accounts for the fact that the Hamadsha must dance barefoot and that they become enraged and tear at anyone who wears new slippers and walks in them across the stage” (1973:203). 67  Moqaddema ‘Aisha  M‘allem Boubeker  “Zitoun” Malika  Mahmoud  Abdallah  Fadna  Zaida  Jemia  Mohammed ?  Fatima Zahra Hamza Houssam  Bouchra  Fatiha  Mokhtar  Khadija  Abdelkader ?  Saida  Hamani Senna  Abdelatif  Najia  Yussef  Amel  Nada  Meryem  Azizza  ‘Aisha  Charifa  Hassana  Figure 3.2 The Gania family tree.  lila-s with one of her brothers, most often M‘allem Mokhtar. The Gania children and in-laws take on the roles as ritual assistants and accompanists during lila-s (Figure 3.2).4  3.1.2 A Loosely Centralized Organization  The Zaouia Sidna Bilal (Sanctuary of Our Lord Bilal) located in Essaouira is considered a centre of the Gnawa (Figure 3.3). In the past, Gnawa families and members were closely connected to the lodge. It was a special space where Gnawa gathered for meetings, to initiate new m‘allem-s, and to hold lila-s. In addition to the space, ritual items  The ‘arifat and qarqabiya are generally all Gnawa and respectively comprise the daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, female and male cousins and in-laws of the masters. Apprentices and those elected by the mluk may also take on these roles during a lila. 4  68  a) street view  b) entrance  Figure 3.3 Zaouia Sidna Bilal. (Photographs by Maisie Sum)  such as musical instruments, colored veils and so forth, were available for use by any Gnawa, if necessary (personal communication, Z.Gania, 2007). The m‘allem and moqaddema in charge of the zawiya were elected by the Gnawa community who possessed Gnawa lineage and sub-Saharan origins. In recent years, Zaouia Sidna Bilal as a centre of Gnawa activity and of the community, not only in Morocco, but in Essaouira, wanes. Fewer m‘allem-s participate in the annual celebration or religious festival (mussem) of Zaouia Sidna Bilal, where once the great masters, traveling great distances from various regions of Morocco, congregated. A similar phenomenon has arisen at other important centers for the Gnawa. In 2009, I accompanied Moqaddema Zaida Gania and her family on their annual visit, two weeks following the Prophet’s anniversary, to the holy sites of Mulay Brahim in Kik and Mulay Abdallah ben Hsein in Tamesloht. She remarked on the dwindling participation and 69  diminishing baraka: “When I was a child there were countless Gnawa groups. They came from everywhere. The baraka was very strong. I saw incredible things, but now it’s been scraped away. There are only a few groups” (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2009). My fieldwork and discussions with the Ganias imply a dilution of the Gnawa tradition due to appropriation, secularization, and popularization of their ritual practice. Gnawa groups function independently; however, they operate according to a set of rules embodied, observed, and preserved by hereditary practitioners. Of foremost importance is the invocation of all the cohorts during a given sacred occasion, each characterized by specific sounds, colors, fragrances, flavors, feelings, and actions. While there exists a ritual structure and prescribed sequence of invocation (treq) to which all Gnawa groups adhere,5 regional, local, and individual variation occur around an identical core (Chapter 5). Most prevalent is regional variation of the lila macro-structure and the treq, and individual interpretation of musical motives (Chapter 4) and their arrangement (Chapters 6 and 7). The instrumentation usually remains unchanged during sacred events (tbel, guembri, qraqab).6  3.1.3 Membership, Transmission, and Training  The Gania masters belong to a hereditary Gnawa family with putative origins in Senegal and Mali (discussed in Section 3.2.1). When I first met the M‘allem Mahmoud Gania Group in 2001, with the exception of a friend, all of the ten members were family: the m‘allem’s son, his brothers (M‘allem Abdallah and M‘allem Mokhtar), and brother-in-laws  5  Treq signifies the way, path or sequential order of invoking the mluk during the lila. Regions in central and northern Morocco may include the ghita (Moroccan oboe) (personal communication, M. Outanine, 2009). At one lila I attended in Essaouira, bagpipes accompanied the tbel during the procession phase. 6  70  (Figure 1.2). Although the brothers may play together as a group for international performances, each are m‘allem-s in their own right and head their own ensembles when called on to do lila-s and gigs in Morocco (Figure 3.4). They do, however, share many of the same accompanists in addition to their sons, nephews, and in-laws. When performing together, the eldest is due greatest respect by default and takes the lead position. Before M‘allem Boubeker passed away, the three Gania masters would accompany their father at lila-s. They would only play the guembri if their father passed it to them, and would return it to him when signaled to, or if he had left the room, when he came back. Becoming a Gnawa initiate or ritual master, however, is not limited to a Gnawa lineage, sub-Saharan roots, or a past in slavery. Some fell into the Gnawa way of life after having been struck ill by the mluk, been nursed by a Gnawa housekeeper, had a connection with a sick person healed by Gnawa, or having lived in close proximity to a Gnawa family. Regardless of the circumstances, they were introduced to a new set of values and orientation, and eventually adopted a new identity as a member of the Gnawa society and apprenticed with the masters.7 In all cases, members acquire a knowledge that is embodied and actively lived. Transmission takes place through repeated exposure, listening, watching, and imitating. For those with Gnawa lineage like the Ganias, through years of absorption and exposure beginning in the womb of their mothers and lila-s held regularly in their homes, masters  Moqaddema Zaida once told me: “We all have mluk inside us. You, me, everyone. But we don’t know. When we get sick or when we attend a lila we learn about it” (personal communication, 2007). Similarly, Pâques writes: “Everybody has genies within them. Each child takes a color at birth. Those who live in harmony with their genie are not conscious of their existence, and it is said that they do not have mluk. But others are their victims, that is to say, they are subjected to disorders… manifested in multiple ways… [such as] sterility, or miscarriages… epilepsy, paralysis” (1991:232– 33). 7  71  a)  b) (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)  c) Figure 3.4 The Gania family and instruments of Gnawa music. a) M‘allem Mahmoud playing the guembri, a 3-stringed bass lute with his sons Hamza (left) and Houssam (right) on qraqab, b) M‘allem Abdallah (behind, on tbel) and (from left to right) his nephews Abdelatif and Hamani, and his brother-in-law Si Mohammed, c) Moqaddema Zaida (center) behind the seniya (main instrument of female Gnawa ensemble) with daughters Saida (on her right), Nada (to her left, in the corner), ‘Aisha (to her far left, with elbow on cousin’s lap) and her nieces. (Photographs by Maisie Sum) 72  acquire knowledge of all sensory symbols associated with the mluk, mythical meanings, and ritual procedure. As they become able, daughters assist their mothers in the ritual preparations of a lila, and sons accompany their fathers. Through a gradual process they embody the principles of performance (i.e., the art of musicking and trancing) that form their habitus. Arom’s discussion of early kinetic transmission of music in the Central African Republic applies to many oral cultures including the Gnawa children, with respect to ritual and musical apprenticeship, and is worth quoting in full:  Indeed, from the very first days of its life, the child can do no other than participate, albeit involuntarily, in the social life of the group. Wrapped in a carrying cloth, the infant is fixed on to its mother’s back, where it remains perched all day long, participating in the various activities in which the mother participates, including of course the different ceremonies and dances in which she takes part. Finding itself thus thrust into the musical activities of its milieu, taking part in the dance, since it is ‘being danced’ by its mother, long before it can stand on its own feet, the infant absorbs and assimilates in the most organic and natural manner possible the rudiments of the music of its own community. The child may be said, in fact, to store up, in a subconscious fashion, the characteristics of this music. This is the ‘passive’ stage, the first step in its pragmatic apprenticeship, ‘on-the-job’. But this is also the stage which marks out the future musician, even it is not the most important one. The second stage begins when the child, able to speak and to walk, i.e., to master the movements of his body, of his legs and of his hands, feels the need to act, in imitation of the adults and the older children. To this end he is constantly solicited and stimulated socially. (Arom 1991:14)  The vocation of the moqaddema depends on election by the mluk and is manifested differently depending on one’s disposition. Lapassade differentiates between two initiatory paths: by election in which one is first struck ill by a melk, and by lineage in which one is inhabited at birth (1998:35-36). Coming from Gnawa lineage, Moqaddema Zaida falls into the second category. Inhabited by the mluk as a child, her alliance with them has developed over five decades, and Gnawa beliefs and ritual knowledge (symbolism, process, trance 73  choreography) run through her veins. Being one of two daughters, the inheritance of her mother’s ritual items and established role as seer-therapist revealed itself after a period of time. When Moqaddema ‘Aisha passed, it remained undecided which of the two daughters would continue her work. “My father did not know what to do after my mother died. We can’t leave her things for the mluk unattended. Then one day he had a dream and a voice told him what to do. After the dream he came to me and said, ‘Zaida, your mother’s things are yours’” (personal communication, 2006). From then on Moqaddema Zaida, like her mother, was required to perform special obligations for the mluk (discussed below). She says that her children will continue the Gnawa heritage and learn the family secrets as she did from her mother; it is in their blood. “I was pregnant with ‘Aisha [my youngest daughter] during my Sha‘ban lila. I danced Sidi Musa [i.e., while possessed by him] until I was ready to give birth. Si Mohammed [my husband] had to take me to the hospital right after” (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2009). Growing up with lila-s, Moqaddema Zaida’s daughters live every lila alongside their mother (Figure 3.5), much like Moqaddema Zaida and her sister did in the past. In addition to helping their mother with ritual preparations and organization, from a very young age most of her daughters (and of her brothers) had already engaged in possession dances.8 An uninitiated person (male or female), chosen later in life, often undergoes a painful and difficult initiatory path under the therapy and tutelage of a moqaddema. While transgression (unknowingly stomping on a spirit, saying their name) or sorcery may cause Gnawa to say that individuals are “struck” by the spirits (madrub or masru) resulting in  Similarly in Bali, “trance is a cultural form accessible to most people… even the smallest children. Belo reports an incident in which children as young as three years old were possessed in imitation of their elders” (Walker 1972:59). 8  74  Figure 3.5 Moqaddema Zaida (second from the left) with her daughters and nieces ready to perform. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  physical or psychological ailments such as paralysis or delirium,9 others irrespective of what they have or have not done are simply chosen without any known reason. The latter “initiatory illness” is seen as the first stage to establishing a lifelong alliance with the spirit (Kapchan 2007; Hell 1999).10 Refusal to accept and submit to the spirits results in continual suffering. In the earliest stages, possession manifests as afflictions which may be overcome with compliance. Regular offerings lead to an eventual physical and physiological transformation from being “struck” to being “inhabited” (maskun) to eventually being “connected” (rbet), if the spirits accept (Hell 1999:52-54). Being connected implies an alliance, rather than a dependency or submission seen in the initial stages. One gains 9  In some instances, family members, instead of or in addition to the transgressor, may suffer the consequences of their actions (Hell 1999:112). 10 To be sure, alliance with a melk is not a necessary consequence of an affliction when the result of a transgression or victim of sorcery. 75  protection from sorcery, illness, and misfortune, and acquires abilities for therapy (as seer or medium) and miraculous possession dances during a lila. The power to divine and heal is determined by the relationship an adept cultivates with their affiliated spirits. “After being an adept for thirty years, Zineb finally attained the status of therapist and seer. Her vocation was affirmed in a trance ritual during which the mluk had demanded that she dedicate herself to a calling of therapy according to the Gnaoui model” (Chlyeh 1999:10). Along with the benefits, the chosen one incurs burdens and dangers associated with the spirits. A moqaddema from Casablanca said: “the problem with the mlouk [mluk] is that they do not have any memory. They change quickly. One day they give you everything, the next day they strike you!” (Hell 1999:141). The unpredictable and uncompromising character of mluk renders them dangerous and accounts for the reason “few people dare to cross the line and become a chief of the cult” (ibid.). The m‘allem mediates between the seen and unseen worlds through music. Like the moqaddema, he may also be elected by the mluk; however, his ability is not judged by an alliance with the most powerful spirits (demonstrated in bodily manifestation) but by his mastery of the guembri used to communicate with the spirits. Becoming a m‘allem requires apprenticeship with a m‘allem recognized by the ritual community. The trajectory typically begins with accompanying the m‘allem and leads to mastery for the talented, diligent, and chosen. In their youth, M‘allem Abdallah and his older brother participated in annual ritual visits and celebrations around Morocco with their father, performing lila-s with other Gnawa families. These venues were the traditional breeding grounds of the ritual m‘allem-s. The young Gania brothers supported their father and other masters playing qraqab, singing in choral response alongside other more experienced musicians, and participating in group  76  dances (Chapter 5), effectively learning the trade through repetition, immersion, and absorption of different styles. M‘allem Abdallah said he always paid attention to the m‘allem-s. He listened closely to their interpretations and watched their guembri techniques. A lila was where a young Gnawi could begin his schooling by playing live as an accompanist; however, it was no place for guembri practice. At home, M‘allem Abdallah would pick up the guembri and imitate what he had seen and heard, receiving advice and correction as required through demonstration from his father who was always in earshot (personal communication, A. Gania, 2009). This tradition continues with the families of M‘allem Mahmoud and Moqaddema Zaida, whose respective sons accompany any one of the three Gania m‘allem-s doing lila-s and performing on stage. As the Gania brothers grew older and more proficient on the guembri, M‘allem Boubeker would pass the guembri to his sons (usually the eldest) to animate portions of the lila. Only many years after consistent exposure and experience as accompanists, learning and mastering the repertoire, were they given the opportunity to officially earn the title of m‘allem before the entire ritual community—particularly the m‘allem-s and moqaddema-s. When M‘allem Mokhtar Gania was deemed ready, a special feast (gaçʻa) was held by his mother and father to initiate him as m‘allem.11 “All the Gnawa were invited. Maman, Moqaddema ‘Aisha, prepared the large plate of coucous… M‘allem Boubeker started the lila and then he handed the guembri to Mokhtar” (personal communication, A. Gania, 2009). The local Gnawa community was invited to celebrate, witness, and to judge the success of the m‘allem’s first lila. His worthiness was established by a number of criteria: his mastery of over one hundred songs; his knowledge of the ritual path, the repertoire and dances Gaç‘a literally means “a large earthen or wooden dish” (Chlyeh 1999:126). For more about the ceremony see Pâques (1991:300), Chlyeh (1999:25), and Hell (2002:352). 11  77  associated with the mluk, and of symbolic associations including the gestural language of possession dances; his mastery of the guembri, his knowledge of and skills to execute the musical cues and transitions required to facilitate, sustain and guide possession; and his ability to call the mluk to earth and coax them effectively. In essence, it was the final examination that tested not only his musical competence, but his musical and ritual knowledge and ability to mediate between the human and spirit world—to call the spirits to earth and to propitiate them during their visit. Only m‘allem-s who could harness the guembri’s power are deemed worthy by the ritual community to work a lila.  3.1.4 Obligations and Ritual Roles  As guardians of a sacred and secret tradition, both the m‘allem and moqaddema have a duty to protect, preserve, and pass on their ritual beliefs and practices to their children, elected members, and apprentices. As ritual masters they each have specific duties that must be performed outside of and during a sacred ritual. Accompanists and assistants, on the other hand, have few obligations outside of the lila aside from loyalty, availability, submissiveness, and subordination to their teachers. Caring for supernatural entities is the primary concern of the moqaddema. Throughout the year she is obligated to carry out a number of rituals that includes nourishing the mluk regularly with offerings of food and incense, and renewing ties annually with the highest and obligatory offering of a lila during the month of Sha‘ban in order to maintain a harmonious relationship and strengthen the bond with the mluk. The Sh’aban lila is an important event because its success validates the moqaddema’s affiliation with the mluk to the invited guests and predicts her future success. While shopping for her annual offering 78  Figure 3.6 Moqaddema Zaida buying her bull for Sha‘ban at the Heddera market (2007). (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  (Figure 3.6), Moqaddema Zaida told me: “My melk is grand. He must receive a great sacrifice. Last year I didn’t have a lot of money so I offered him a calf. It wasn’t good. My work didn’t go well and I got very sick” (personal communication, 2007). The year in question, Moqaddema Zaida had to go into the hospital for surgery. Associated with the endowment of her supernatural powers is her duty to heal those struck ill by the mluk; in effect, she is appointed to mediate between the seen and unseen worlds, maintaining and restoring equilibrium for the individual in particular and for the overall good (and safety) of the society at large. “These things were given to me. They chose me. I must oblige” (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2007). The moqaddema reserves a space in her home where she keeps ritual items hidden from plain sight. She has a special altar for the mluk called mida which becomes visible to others once a year during the obligatory lila; otherwise it remains in its special place where only the moqaddema enters to give offerings and for divination when clients or patients 79  (male or female) visit for consultation. Diagnosis begins with a careful distinction between “the harmful actions caused by malevolent spirits and possession that is [due to a transgression or] desired and sought after by the master spirits” (Hell 1999:64) who demand a lifelong service. The prognosis always demands human action in the form of offerings and actions, such as particular foods or animal sacrifice, to propitiate the afflicting spirit. If necessary, a lila is prescribed as a therapeutic session that must be sponsored by the illstricken. A lila is not limited to therapy through spirit possession of the afflicted but may take the form of a public reprimand when the trance of the moqaddema evolves into a mediumship. When a lila is held the moqaddema takes on the additional role as ritual officiant. She possesses the necessary ritual accessories, prepares the ritual foods, and has an entourage of female assistants who help as the ceremony unfolds. While the smooth running of events requires a special level of ritual knowledge and experience, the reputation and respect of a moqaddema is based on evidence of a strong alliance with her spirits. The possession portion of the lila displays her powers in dramatic, mimetic, and sometimes miraculous dance (Chapter 5). In addition to providing offerings to the supernatural entities, healing, and officiating lila-s, the moqaddema must comply with the rules of conduct during a lila, such as having all the necessary and appropriate ritual offerings and following proper procedure for invocation. Moqaddema Zaida stresses the importance of invoking every cohort of supernatural entities, which means playing all the musical suites. She expressed concern over a lila she was invited to attend (not officiate) where the m‘allem did not play one of the cohorts: “I was scared. It was dangerous for me to be there” (personal communication, 2009). Because of her  80  affiliation with the mluk, the wrath upon her for neglecting or disrespecting them could be fatal. While the omission of pieces within a musical suite is acceptable, common (often due to the lack of time, money or absence of affiliated adepts), and harmless, excluding an entire suite (i.e., a cohort of spirits) is risky. She confronted the musician who responded, “You have your way of doing the lila and we have ours” (ibid.).12 Moqaddema Zaida expressed, “If they want to do that they should not call it a lila but a party... You cannot invite some [mluk] and not others when they are right beside each other. They will be angry” (ibid.). Moqaddema Zaida’s fear corroborates Hell’s statement: “For those who work with the supernatural, the most minor sin may lead to serious consequences” (1999:181). This situation demonstrates a fundamental philosophical difference between Gnawa m‘allem-s. For the hereditary and chosen ones, “values [in sacred rituals and myths] are portrayed not as subjective human preferences but as the imposed condition for life implicit in a world with a particular structure” (Geertz 1957:427). The duties of the m‘allem throughout the year with regard to the supernatural entities are light in comparison to the moqaddema; aside from his role of doing lila-s in an appropriate manner and leading the music ensemble, he must give weekly offerings to his guembri (Figure 3.7). While the moqaddema’s initiatory path may be a painful and demanding one that requires total submission to the spirits, the m‘allem’s demands much practice, skill, and talent. “For a Gnawi the gumbri is the most valuable asset. All his life he seeks to improve his playing, that is to say, to better make the mluk ‘rise’ and to better lead them” (Pâques 1991:221). Based on my conversation with Moqaddema Zaida, “your” is taken to refer to the masters of subSaharan Gnawa lineage and “ours” to those without Gnawa lineage, or sub-Saharan ancestry, who learned later in life and have their own interpretation. There are many non-hereditary Gnawa that fit the “our” description; however, they differ in that following their apprenticeship they were selected by the ritual community. 12  81  Figure 3.7 Nourishing the guembri with incense. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  As a ritual musician, the m‘allem is responsible for a preparatory ritual referred to as dbiha and creating an environment conducive to possession dances. The dbiha involves animal sacrifice that is necessary for spiritual invocation and possession.13 This pre-lila ceremony is what distinguishes the sacred practice of a lila from the more recent staged lila (discussed in Section II) requested by non-Gnawa wishing to witness its proceedings as a performance alone (personal communication, A. Gania, 2007). The m‘allem hired for the sacred occasion must participate in this activity before the lila. In the evening during the lila, his duty is to first announce the ceremony, gather together the Gnawa community and the mluk, and create a unitary feeling through rhythmic entrainment. Afterwards, he must invoke  13  The blood of a sacrificed animal is also significant in Balinese ceremonies and other trance rituals such as performed by the Tumbuka (Friedson 1996). 82  and appease the mluk with their respective musical codes and favorable variations in order to tame their unpredictable nature. Like the moqaddema, he effectively heals the sick and restores harmony within and without. The title of m‘allem carries a burden of responsibility. At heightened moments, possession dances may take the form of a dramatic display that only a powerful m‘allem can support and control. Hell captures the severity of this role in a story told by a Gnawa from Essaouira: “Tragic circumstances drove the first m‘allem with whom I ever worked to definitively leave the possession cult... ritual hammering always accompanies the presence of the formidable Sons of the Forest. But that day, the extreme violence of the blows led to a fatal outcome... it was not a fear of trouble that motivated the irreversible decision of the master musician but fear of a different nature, namely, the heavy, terribly distressing apprehension of no longer being able to control the fury associated with the arrival of the spirits” (1999:179). The m‘allem’s accompanists have less at stake and a limited number of obligations. They perform the same musical activity at any given time in the form of percussive support—clapping or on qraqab—and singing in choral response to the m‘allem’s impassioned calls.14 Musicians are expected to be familiar with the qraqab patterns, choral response and refrain, repertoire, and dance during the pre-possession portions, in addition to understanding the m‘allem-s’ cues. They must also practice preparatory rituals of animal sacrifice. Apprentices are expected to be loyal to their teacher throughout their lifetime. They must be available to work lila-s with the m‘allem at anytime regardless of how much notice  14  With the exception of the procession phase where one or two may play the tbel (Chapter 5). 83  they may have been given.15 They must also be ready to play the guembri or sing the lead for “lighter” pieces if asked. As such, it is their duty to know all the musical icons, the calls associated with the mluk, and the sequential order. This master-disciple relationship continues even when an apprentice becomes a m‘allem in his own right. As masters and leaders, the m‘allem and moqaddema are conferred a high social status in the Gnawa community; however, doing a sacred lila is a social and spiritual obligation with little financial reward. In the past their service was provided in exchange for a meal. Though generally paid in cash these days, keeping with tradition, they do not charge a fixed fee and leave it to the sponsor to decide based on their judgment of the lila’s efficacy, not to mention their financial standing. Although the moqaddema chooses and contacts the m‘allem to animate the sacred event, the m‘allem is the one who collects the monetary offerings from the possessed during the musical performance and the sponsor at the end of the ceremony, and divvies up the proceeds to his musicians and the moqaddema (who then shares it with her assistants). When the moqaddema sponsors her own lila during Sha‘ban , the m‘allem keeps the baraka (i.e., the divine benefice, donations collected during the ceremony) for himself and his group, and, depending on his relationship with the moqaddema, may not receive additional remuneration.  Some musicians show up to lila-s through hearsay using it as “rehearsal,” an opportunity to be recognized, while also hoping to get a share of the earnings. 15  84  3.1.5 Recent Changes  3.1.5.1 Status, Role and Obligations  Since the inception of the Gnaoua Festival, the m‘allem has been catapulted into the limelight. This has created a new professional “superstar” identity among local ritual masters who previously performed a service for the local community with little or no financial reward. Today, a handful of m‘allem-s reputable for their mystic powers, along with others who are well-promoted, reap the economic benefits of national and international festival contracts and wealthy patrons. Lesser known performers, some equal or superior in mastery, settle for less lucrative secular affairs such as restaurant gigs and private parties, and may continue to hold jobs outside the musical sphere. M‘allem Mahmoud has been given an identity that differentiates him from other m‘allem-s, dubbed the “real thing” by a number of local Moroccans. In a magazine spread advertising the 2006 Gnaoua Festival, a candid picture of him singing was juxtaposed with one captured of B.B. King exhibiting strikingly similar poses and soulful expressions. Traditionally, work for the m‘allem relied heavily on his relationship with various moqaddema-s, since they were the ones who prescribed the need for a lila and contacted him. This remains true to a certain extent, though the aging and shrinking moqaddema population, not to mention the costliness of a lila these days,16 has resulted in a lower demand for lila-s throughout the year (personal communication, M. Gania, 2007; M. Outanine, 2009). Popularity of Gnawa music has also given rise to patronage by the elite and attracted 16  Although masters do not charge a fixed fee for their services, the sponsor is required to provide the animals for sacrifice, hire helpers to prepare the ritual foods, arrange transport for the masters (if necessary), and rent a space if his/her home is not large enough. 85  organizers and managers interested in the musical aspects of the lila. Instead of going through the moqaddema who normally liaises between the m‘allem and sponsor, patrons and promoters approach the m‘allem directly for his services as a musician, abolishing the moqaddema’s role as intermediary to the music event. Unlike sacred rituals, Gnawa expect and demand a contract for their secular services. They negotiate a fee based on the duration of the performance, their reputation, and the income and social status of the person (or company) hiring them. Furthermore, the informality of showing up to play at lila-s has been replaced by a fixed list of accompanists, selected and notified in advance. The m‘allem has become his own business manager, particularly for small secular gigs, and may hire a manager for negotiating international contracts. Being strictly musical affairs, the moqaddema gets eliminated from the equation as intermediary, but also as ritual master and officiant in secular contexts of performance. Receding into the background, spectators are unaware of her existence, let alone her prominence in the Gnawa community. To the outsider, however, the setting of a sacred lila similarly places the musicians at the centre of the action. With the exception of miraculous dances that may occur during important lila-s, the moqaddema retreats “behind the scenes” while the m‘allem animates the occasion in plain sight. The m‘allem is the aurally and visually prominent leader of the society during the ritual occasion, as they are in secular performances. Similarly, unlike the popularity of Gnawa music, the sacred lila for which it is intended gets little attention. In secular venues, the music is given emphasis and is rarely accompanied by mock possession trance; even when such “trance” is present, the moqaddema’s role remains unknown,17 not to mention the m‘allem’s role as mediator of The 2006 Gnaoua Festival was dedicated to Moqaddadem ‘Aisha, the mother of the Gania masters. Although such a dedication is evidence of her importance among the ritual community, and 17  86  Figure 3.8 Haddarat Zaida Gania performing at the 2009 Chrib Attay Festival in Essaouira. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  human and spirit realms. On the other hand, secular occasions have given female Gnawa opportunities to perform as musicians on the same stage as the m‘allem, in the normally allmale ensemble (Chapter 5). Furthermore, if they have their own music ensemble, these venues provide potential spaces for all-female performances (Figure 3.8).18 In spite of their high social status among the Gnawa community, their professionalism in secular spheres and the star status of some m‘allem-s, the majority of  consideration on the part of the event organizers there was little information about her status and role to non-Gnawa participants at the festival. 18 Talented children growing up surrounded by Gnawa music and dance successfully acquire the art. The daughters of the Gania masters are musicians and dancers in their own right. Moqaddema Zaida has her own group of female musicians and has been offered gigs during the festival and throughout the year. She performs a female Sufi genre called haddarat. A master of the Gnawa tradition, she may also be hired for women only sacred occasions of the lila—that is, the musicians and audience are all women. The instrumentation differs from the all-male ensemble: the main instrument is the seniya, a metal tea tray played with two metal rods, accompanied by frame drums (bendir) and small goblet drums (ta‘rija). Similar to the m‘allem, the m‘allema plays the main instrument and sings the calls. Her accompanists play hand drums that are usually paired. It is uncertain whether an all-female music ensemble that performed exclusive women-only lila-s was always a part of Gnawa tradition or whether it has recently sprung up. Research in this area has yet to be pursued. 87  Gnawa musicians (and Gnawa, in general) maintain a relatively low socio-economic and political status in the Moroccan national context. Perhaps as Waitt suggests with regard to festival spaces as “geographies of helplessness” (2008:513):19  [U]urban festivals managed by the social elite [are a] mechanism that constrains, disadvantages and oppresses marginalized socio-economic groups… Allowing the ‘masses’ to party, in the Roman mode of ‘bread and circuses’,20 while taken-for-granted as fun does nothing to undermine the economic relationships that maintain social injustices… social hierarchies and normative ideas are reinforced rather than inverted. (Waitt 2008:515)  While moqaddema-s continue to uphold their responsibilities and obligations to Gnawa culture (and have little choice in the matter given their relationships with the mluk), m‘allem-s and musicians do so to varying degrees. Due to the increasing need and desire for financial gain in order to meet a higher standard of living, accompanying musicians are no longer loyal to one m‘allem but play for a number of different ensembles. A Gnawi voices his concern on the potential loss of cultural tradition: “there are fewer and fewer apprentices interested in learning the actual rites. Many of the younger Gnawa hire themselves out for weddings and other celebrations” (Kapchan 2007:146). Due to shorter hours and more lucrative rewards, m‘allem-s have become selective, choosing to do lila-s with higher potential return (i.e., for the more affluent), some sacrificing their obligations for more  19  Geographer Gordon Waitt (2008) also explores two other themes of urban festival spaces: geographies of hype and geographies of hope. 20 This concept of “bread and circuses” refers to the “pacifying role of spectacle… how historically [it] has been frequently deployed by the social elite as a form of social control. Very simply, the socially disadvantaged are provided a ‘taste of bread’ and a day of entertainment, in the belief they will forget their troubles and believe in the authority’s benefits. Festivals become conceptualized as public relations exercises in which particular ideologies of who belongs in the collective imaginary are circulated and passively received rather than contested” (Waitt 2008:522). 88  lucrative opportunities.21 Rules may also be neglected and pieces deemed secret performed for a secular occasion if the price is right. The changing values and cognitive orientation of Gnawa practitioners attributed to the repercussions of global forces such as festivals and tourism have impacted the conduct of sacred occasions, pushing boundaries demarcated by obligations and rules. Moqaddema Zaida says: “Today, people add different things to a lila and forget other things that are essential. They are scraping away the baraka” (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2007, 2009). In Essaouira, the demand for sacred lila-s has decreased in the last decade, which equates to a decline in offerings to the mluk on the part of Gnawa adepts. Si Mohammed explains that “a lila is expensive. One must provide for the entire ceremony—the food, the drinks—everything, and everything is expensive now” (personal communication, 2009). Similarly, Kapchan also recorded that “when one’s money runs out, so do their blessings” (2007:144). Moqaddema Zaida remarks: “In the past, the zawiya [of Mulay Brahim] shared the sacrificed animal with all who made the annual visit during the mussem. They prepared large dishes of coucous and gave some to everybody. It’s not like that anymore. Now everybody keeps everything for themselves” (personal communication, 2009).22  Kapchan writes: “Whereas lilas to propitiate spirits in Morocco are often held in humble households whose rooms hold a limited number of people, the Gnawa know their earnings, which come largely through the offerings made by the guests in exchange for blessings, are increased in more bourgeois contexts, especially those where foreigners are present” (2007:146). 22 In addition to food, the sacrificed animal signifies baraka (i.e., money and mana). “Money is baraka is mana—a substance with power, that is power-endowing, that is active, contagious” (Mauss (1972[1902]:135) in Kapchan 2007:138). From the Polynesian, mana is “a concept of a life force, believed to be seated in the head, and associated with high social status and ritual power” (Accessed December 2011, www.freedictionary.com). 21  89  3.1.5.2 Membership, Transmission, and Training  Gnawa life has attracted a number of young local Moroccans who love the music and the potential opportunities it offers (national festivals, tours abroad). Some of them, however, may not subscribe to Gnawa ideology or practices or identify with Gnawa ways, which may account for the change of attitude remarked on by the Gania masters with regard to loyalty, respect, and seriousness. Unlike non-Gnawa women who become involved in Gnawa rituals due to an election by the mluk and have no monetary gain, membership into the music ensemble opens a new world of possibilities. No initiation or test of tagnawit is required to be an accompanying musician; the only criteria are familiarity with the repertoire, musical and dance skills, and the male gender. In Essaouira today, music ensembles comprise as many family members as hired musicians, the latter often free-lancers whose loyalty and identity are uncertain (cf. Jones 1977:28). Kapchan explains:  The entry of the Gnawa onto the world music scene and the accompanying commoditization of the Gnawa ‘sound,’ has both weakened the local traditions (which perform healing and social cohesion but are not very lucrative) and strengthened international recognition, aligning and codifying a musical style with a Morocco-African identity in the process. Young Gnawa now have their sights set on record companies and international tours rather than on healing the possessed in their local neighborhoods. The effervescence of the local ceremonies has not disappeared, however; rather it has been transferred to the global stage. Ironically, the very musical groups whose members have no tagnawit are those for whom the discourse of spirit possession, and trance, become most salient. They have learned that “the sacred” sells. (Kapchan 2008:56)  Transmission, learning, and training have changed significantly in the last two decades since the advent of digital technology, the secularization of Gnawa music, and the decline in sacred lila-s. The nature of public performances and absence of copyright laws in  90  Morocco allows anyone with a video camera, audio recorder, or cell phone to copy the renditions of songs for themselves, upload them on the internet, or even re-produce them for sale at the local music store. This has rendered learning Gnawa music highly accessible, enabling anyone to learn the music and individual styles without the obligations previously required as an apprentice or the necessity of entry into a master-disciple relationship.23 Gnawa and non-Gnawa pay homage to the “cassette” (personal communication, M. Gania, M. Outanine, 2007). Moqaddema Zaida’s son, Yussef, combines the two: participating in lila-s and listening to recordings of other great m’allem-s, the latter replacing the distances once travelled by M‘allem Abdallah and his brothers to learn regional styles, no longer affordable by some. Traditionally, there were no rehearsals because the abundance of lila-s served this purpose and the closeness of the family brought a unified spiritual energy. In spite of the decline in ritual activity and engagement of non-family members, the groups remain rather informal and unstructured. Carried over from traditional practices, new members are not required to rehearse for lila-s though “some don’t know the music well, and don’t know how to listen to the guembri” (personal communication, A. Gania and M. Outanine, 2009). Collaborative projects with international artists, however, have created a need for rehearsals. This may require a few hours of rehearsal before the show (Figure 3.9), or consist of a oneor two-week long “residence.” In 2009, a Gnawa group lived in residence for two weeks in Germany working on the first ever collaboration with a classical music ensemble.  23  The accessibility of digital technology has led to the filming of sacred lila-s. In some cases these are done without the permission of the Gnawa, while in others Gnawa may hire someone to render a DVD of their ceremony. As much as possible, the Gnawa make their own recordings in order to minimize the risk of appropriation and publicizing their private rituals without their permission and knowledge. 91  Figure 3.9 M‘allem Mahmoud and group members rehearsing for their collaborative performance at the 2001 Gnaoua and World Music Festival. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  Despite these recent changes, the number of Gnawa m‘allem-s is on the rise (and, naturally, a demand for accompanying musicians). A consequence of the popularity and accessibility of Gnawa music has been the self-proclaimed m’allem. Official statistics on the number of m‘allem-s are not available, however, Si Mohammed expressed his belief in an excess, particularly, of unworthy ones. “There are 2000 m‘allem-s in Essaouira” (personal communication, M. Outanine, 2007). “How do you know?” I asked. “There are a lot... many of them don’t know anything, they do whatever” (ibid.). Furthermore, with the inception of the Young Gnawa Talents Festival in 2005, the initiation ceremony of the gaç‘a has all but disappeared, replaced by a secular event that selects the number one “m‘allem” of the year and judges the aspiring “m‘allem” according to musical criteria alone. While musical competence and knowledge of the repertoire are essential, the title of m‘allem should only be granted to those who attain ritual mastery—the true test of which requires doing a lila before  92  the Gnawa elders (see previous section). Kapchan stresses the importance of being given the title of m‘allem by the community:  Until recently, Gnawa musicians underwent an apprenticeship, often from father to son. The title of m‘allem was conferred, not appropriated, and demanded a deep and time-consuming study of both the spirit realm and music… Today there are many people who call themselves Gnawa who do not have tagnawit [(literally Gnawa-ness), a qualifier that denotes an advanced stage of ritual mastery]. They learn the music (often through apprenticeship) but do not learn the secrets of the spirit realm. (Kapchan 2008:55-56)  Lacking a corpus of knowledge that cannot be digitally acquired, and never having sponsored and performed a lila before the Gnawa masters, such musicians deserve recognition as talented guembri players with good voices but do not warrant the prominent, and these days, popularized, socially elevated and potentially economically promising status of a Gnawa m‘allem identity (personal communication, Gania masters, M. Outanine, 2006-2009). The liberal use of the term has created a need to distinguish between those who are authentic and those who are not. In a number of conversations, the adjective “true” was used to modify the terms Gnawa or m‘allem.24  3.2 Social Context of Gnawa and Their Music in Morocco  I once met a Congolese filmmaker named Balufu Bakupo Kanyinda who insisted that the Gnawa story is the most important story in Africa to have been revealed to the rest of the world in the twentieth century... “the story of 24  Debates among the Gnawa continue over the matter of authenticity. Kapchan tells of her experience when she asked about Hassan Hakmoun, “a Gnawi that had migrated to the United States” (2007:138). Someone in the room said, “‘He’s not a [true] Gnawi… he doesn’t have Gnawa-ness’ or, more aptly, he’s not authentic Gnawa. Hakmoun left Morocco as a young adolescent, knowing the repertoire of the Gnawa, but not having attained the status of m‘allem” (ibid. 139). 93  the Gnawa migration to Morocco proves that black institutions, black civilizations were so powerful that even if we were taken away from our homeland, taken away as slaves, we created new civilizations.” (Weston 2010:172)25  Like other diasporic civilizations, the Gnawa ancestors met with disapproval from their new host communities and were marginalized. When Weston first went to Morocco in the 1960s “the Gnawa were viewed as street beggars, undesirables. Some Moroccans initially tried to discourage me from having anything to do with Gnawa” (2010:172). Majdouli, a Moroccan anthropologist born in Casablanca and raised in a middle-class family who followed Islamic precepts, says: “In spite of their allegiance to Allah and Mohammed, [the Gnawa] community always lived at the margins of a dominant socio-religious system. Their history, ritual activities and members inspired fear and sometimes contempt […] the word ‘Gnawa’ alone made one shiver” (2007:12, 22). It was taboo to utter the word Gnawa, let alone play their music. Similarly, African historian El Hamel writes, “Fatima Mernissi, a Moroccan sociologist, in her book on the Moroccan harem during the 1940s, reported that Moroccan nationalists looked down on these trance rituals and considered them to be unIslamic” (2008:252). In essence, “the rituals of animal sacrifice, spirit possession and mystical trances... were considered heretical and a deviation from the Sunna (the right path of the Prophet Muhammed) and therefore dismissed” (ibid.). While Gnawa music has become mainstream and the social status of Gnawa somewhat elevated among Moroccan society at large, Gnawa ritual practices remain at the margins and are carefully guarded and preserved by the culture bearers. The following section investigates the social context of Gnawa and their music in Morocco. 25  Randy Weston (jazz pianist/composer) settled in Morocco between 1967 and 1972. His autobiography includes a chapter dedicated to his encounters with the Gnawa (2010:171-182). 94  3.2.1 Origins: Real, Imagined, and Constructed  As discussed in the introduction, a number of etymological theories exist for the term Gnawa; however, as El Hamel writes, “all these meanings have one thing in common: a dark coloring” (2008:246). The history of Gnawa as a people, religious order, or musical style is obscure. Aside from the consistent findings in the field and in discourse that the Moroccan Gnawa likely originated with the sub-Saharan slaves, there is no evidence of precisely where they came, when, how, and why they came together. Unlike the Santería and Candomblé who can trace their ancestry to the Yoruba people based on their ritual and musical practices and the large numbers that were taken during the slave trades (Parker and Rathbone 2007), the origins of the Gnawa cannot be traced to a major source. Although Pâques writes that “[t]he Gnawa order is found, with identical beliefs and rituals, throughout northern Africa, from the Mediterranean to Timbuktu, from Libya to Chad and the Sudan” (1978:320), there is no single source with which they identify—cultural or language group, musically or historically. Firstly, the names of different sub-Saharan groups heard in song, such as Bambara, Fulbé, and Hausa,26 convey a multi-ethnic union at some point in history, and the “thin metal plate with rings” (Host 1781 in Charry 1996:22) inserted at the end of the guembri neck is “consistent with a widespread [sub-Saharan] African practice rooted in an aesthetic that values a buzzing or jingling sound” (Charry 1996:5). Specific correlations to particular ethnic groups and practices have also been made. For example, Brunel (1988:181) in the  Fuson explains, “For the Gnawa, these three ethnic groups, whose homelands stretch across Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria, fall under the category of the ‘Sudanese’” (2009:282). El Hamel includes the Soninke as well (2008:247). 26  95  1920s heard songs in the Bambara language,27 and Bowles in the 1930s observed the majority of Gnawa speaking Bambara.28 Furthermore, a repertoire of the Gnawa lila is titled Ulad Bambara (Sons of Bambara). The Gnawa’s affiliation with Bilal echoes that of the thirteenth century Manding founders of the Mali empire who claimed descent from Bilal “in order to legitimize their power in Islamic terms” (El Hamel 2008:251). Of all griot lutes, the size and morphology of the guembri most resembles the Bambara ngoni.29 African and Moroccan scholars, however, also draw linguistic, geographic, and ethnic associations of the term guembri with the gambare (lute) of the Soninke griots.30 Hale (1997), a scholar of African literature, on the other hand, makes a connection between the words Gnawa and griot and their populations.31 While a strong influence by the larger Mandé group to which Bambara, Soninke, and Mandinka are related may be acknowledged, it remains uncertain whether one was predominant.  René Brunel was in Morocco studying the ‘Aissawa in the 1920s. During that time he also observed Gnawa rituals that resembled those performed today (El Hamel 2008). 28 Bambara was a term used to refer to slaves belonging to local sub-Saharan elites and the French in the eighteenth century. The usage implies two things: that the slaves were mostly Bambara, or that regardless of ethnicity, culture, or language they were grouped under a general term. According to Bathily, “the slaves in the provenance of Galam [Senegal] were presented as being all of the Bambara race or Bambara nation. In truth, these slaves were captured in all the countries of UpperSenegal-Niger […] historical studies on the Bambara… remain insufficient” (1989:264, 319). 29 Griot or jeli refers to master musicians, praise singers, and storytellers who are also cultural guardians of an oral tradition. Similarities between the guembri and Bambara ngoni become evident when comparing photos and descriptions of other griot lutes. Charry notes that a drawing of the shape of the guembri by Host in 1781 “resembles the large Bambara ngnoni, rather than the modern day rectangular box” (Charry 1996:22). 30 Charry writes: “It seems reasonably clear that there is a linguistic relationship between the terms ginbri... which denotes the North African Gnawa lute, and gambare, the lute of Soninke griots that may date back to the time of ancient Ghana [9th–13th century CE]. The possibility that the North African Gnawa term ginbri comes from the West African Soninke term gambare is quite plausible, particularly given the ancient associations that the gambare has, and the probable Soninke origin of at least some of the North African Gnawa” (1996:13–14). 31 According to Hale, “The word agenaou, so deeply imbedded in the intertwined cultures of the North West African region, was most likely a step in the process of linguistic change that began with ghana and went on to gnawa, agenaou, guinea, and guirot to produce griot” (1997:258). 27  96  Secondly, in contrast to the Atlantic slave trade, “far less is known about [the ‘Muslim’ trade]” (Parker and Rathbone 2007:78), which brought captives across the Sahara to North Africa, as well as over the Red Sea to the Middle East and from the East African coast across the Indian Ocean.32 El Hamel (2008) writes “one finds a reluctance to discuss issues of slavery and race in Morocco as a result of Islamic pride about the absence of prejudice and outright oppression in Islam” (2008:242). He also says that “the obscurity involving the history of the blacks in Morocco is mainly a consequence of the increased number of slaves imported from West Africa especially at the end of the sixteenth century, when purchased slaves and captives of war from areas of Europe started to decline” (ibid.:247). Historical accounts and Gnawa discourse generally agree that a large number of people from the ancient African empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhay—the northern part of present day West Africa33 —were brought as slaves to Morocco between the eleventh and nineteenth centuries, but give few details with respect to ethnicity, language, or culture. Instead, they were grouped together under a single geographical or physical term: “Janawa (or Kanawa…) [which] designated the land of the ‘blacks’, whose capital was Ghana” (El Hamel 2008:246), or “Janawi or Kanawi (i.e., ‘Gnawi’)… a generic term to designate a  Despite the dearth of research on the trans-Saharan trade, Parker and Rathbone write: “Yet historians estimate that over more than 1000 years, these combined trades may have involved a similar number of victims: perhaps another 12 million Africans. The ‘Muslim’ trades differed from the Atlantic trade in one important respect: whereas the victims of the latter were bound overwhelmingly for productive labor in the plantations and mines of the Americas, most victims of the former were destined for some form of domestic servitude, including concubinage. Twice as many African men as women were therefore transported across the Atlantic, whereas it is estimated that twice as many women as men were carried to the Muslim world” (2007:78–79). 33 The Ghana Empire (c. 830–1235) occupied present day South-Eastern Mauritania and NorthWestern Mali. The Mali Empire (c. 1230–1600) included an extensive geographical area extending from present day Senegal to the Western edge of Niger, South Mali including the Southern edge of Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea, and parts of Burkina Faso. One of the largest African-Islamic empires, Songhay (c. 1340–1591) covered most of present day Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, and the northern edges of Benin and Nigeria. 32  97  ‘black’ from West Africa” (ibid.:248).34 Despite the “interdependent or clientele relationships with [indigenous] blacks” (2008:244) in the south of present-day Morocco since antiquity, El Hamel writes that “no sources… indicate that the Gnawa were indigenous blacks of the south of Morocco” (ibid.). This is further affirmed by their songs that tell of their forced displacement:35 They brought us from Sudan [West Africa]36 The nobles of this country brought us They brought us to serve them They brought us to bow to them They brought us Oh there is no God but God [Islamic profession of faith] We believe in God’s justice.37 Furthermore, as early as the twelfth century an Islamic legal scholar “wrote a legal document in the form of a model contract of manumission of an enslaved person: ‘A person so and so manumitted his slave so and so al-Janawi [i.e., Gnawi]’” (El Hamel 2008:246). Because the indigenous blacks, referred to as haratin,38 were considered “culturally and historically  34  Janawa (or Jnawa) and Kanawa (or Knawa) were used interchangeably as transliterations of Gnawa because the hard ‘g’ does not exist in Arabic. El Hamel notes that “the oldest evidence that indicates the origin of the term ‘Gnawa’ comes from the Arab historian az-Zuhri, who wrote in the 1140s” (2008:246). 35 Meyers (1977) suggests that it is possible that some of these indigenous “free” blacks may have had a part in forging the Gnawa identity as it is known today, particularly those who were recruited as soldiers for the sultan’s army. 36 Sudan is referred to in the text of many Gnawa songs. It refers to the region known today as West Africa. 37 Translation from al-Asiri in El Hamel (2008:256). 38 According to Meyers, the Haratin were “bound to free patrons [rather than masters] because of their social and political vulnerability and their economic need” (1977:435-36). Haratin is the plural form; hartani the masculine singular, and hartaniyya the feminine singular. “The etymology of the word Hartani, the singular of Haratin, is obscure, but a Moroccan source suggests that it derives from the two Arabic words al-Hurr (‘free man’) and al-Thani (‘second’). Thus, a Hartani is a second-class free man” (ibid.:436 [fn.34]). Similarly, El Hamel writes: “Some scholars argue that some of the indigenous blacks of the south of Morocco were referred to as ‘Haratin’, a sedentary agricultural group who inhabited the region, but these blacks are culturally and historically distinct from the Gnawa” (2008:244-45). El Hamel contends that “Haratin” is “a problematic term that encompasses 98  distinct from Gnawa” (El Hamel 2008:245) and legally free, the twelfth century reference to an enslaved Gnawi implies a person of “dark coloring” with sub-Saharan origins. In nineteenth and early twentieth century writings observations were already being made that identified Gnawa as “usually, but not always, blacks from the Sudan” (Westermarck 1899:258). It should also be kept in mind that female domestic slaves from sub-Saharan Africa served as concubines to their fair-skinned masters for many centuries and gave birth to a population with blended ethnicity and skin color. In any case, according to Pâques, “the Gnawa form a religious order which does not include only blacks, or even only former slaves, but also adepts from the white race—Arabs, Berbers, Jews—who all call themselves ‘sons of Sidna Bilal,’… Because of this, every Gnawa considers himself a slave and a black, no matter what his ethnic and social origins may be” (1978:319–20). Despite the dearth of resources on Gnawa history, assembling fragments of written and oral discourses suggests that Gnawa as a people, religious order, and musical genre was born in Morocco from an amalgamation of the peoples and cultures originating in the south of the Sahara.39 Lesage singles out the circumstances of sixteenth century Morocco as being significant to the emergence of what would become Gnawa society. “[A] degradation of the economic and social situation… this crisis situation… [led to] a popular revival of religiosity… [and] the appearance of a new social hierarchy with the noble lineage, that of the chorfa, at the top and the slaves—the large majority of whom were Blacks brought by traders via the Sahara—at the bottom of the scale. It is likely the first relations between the  different meanings or categories such as free blacks and freed ex-slaves; their common trait, however, was freedom” (2010:90 [fn.3]). 39 In casual conversations with Moroccan friends and strangers in Fez, Asilah, Rabat, Marrakech, and Essaouira, the term Gnawa always vaguely referenced Africa and (trance) music, and more specifically, the guembri, qraqab, and the annual festival in Essaouira. See Pâques 1991, GoodmanSingh 2002, Kapchan 2007, El Hamel 2008, and Fuson 2009, among others. 99  small black slave communities would be established in these precise historic circumstances which would give birth to the Gnawa brotherhood” (1999:47). A family friend of the Ganias once said matter-of-factly, “The Gnawa are people from Senegal, Guinea, Mali, different places in Africa.40 They came together to form a society. They are the Gnawa” (personal communication, ‘Aisha, 2009). In a casual dinner conversation with Si Mohammed, he correlated the sonic texture of the qraqab to the chained slaves crossing the Sahara (personal communication, 2009). The Gania masters with whom I work have a sub-Saharan ancestry. Their paternal and maternal grandparents were brought from Mali or Guinea, and Senegal, respectively (personal communication, Gania family, 2006–2009). Their father “M‘allem… Boubker Gania... was himself a son of an enslaved father in Essaouira. His father (although Muslim) was kidnapped from Mali or Guinea, taken to the Sahara and then sold as a slave in Morocco” (El Hamel 2008:256-57). M‘allem Abdallah told me that his paternal grandfather was originally from Mali (personal communication, 2009). Moqaddema Zaida said her maternal grandfather was a healer from Senegal who was brought to Morocco to work in the French army. He possessed a power to heal by writing on the ground and was noted for his baraka. Although I have tried to learn more about the history of the Ganias, having no lived experience and memory of events, the masters recall little beyond brief and vague descriptions. For the Gania masters, Gnawa (the people and practices) have always existed. They are second generation sub-Saharan born in Morocco, and following in the footsteps of their parents, continue the culture with which they were raised.  40  General reference to Africa by Moroccans normally signifies sub-Saharan Africa. 100  3.2.2 Efficacious Healers  Because of their connection with the supernatural entities, Gnawa are seen as efficacious healers, albeit marginalized—non-Gnawa call on the Gnawa as a last resort, driven by desperation after the tragedy of successive failures of other orthodox therapies such as those administered by doctors or fqih-s (expert in the Quran who may serve as exorcist and healer). This is a therapeutic itinerary Hell considers typical of patients for a number of societies who call on the extraordinary intervention of a shaman or possessed out of necessity (1999:167); that is, if the afflicting spirit does not leave or returns to torment the human host after a more orthodox therapy. A Moroccan man told me a story that affirms the hesitation to seek the assistance of the Gnawa: “My sister came home from school one day and was struck by a jinn [spirit]. She went to see the fqih... who was able to help her get rid of the spirit... The problem was solved so there was no need to call on the Gnawa” (personal communication, Khalid, 2009). Hell says, “For the [non-Gnawa] Muslim, to go to the Gnawa crosses a barrier: the fear of transgression, of having to establish a lasting connection with unpredictable spirits, humiliation of having to mix with the haratin (freed black slaves)” (1999:167).41 According to Kapchan, healing ceremonies are not unique to the Gnawa:  [T]he practice of Islam in Morocco is very Sufi-influenced, which means that they are used to devotion through chanting, through movement, through ecstatic forms of worship. This is not foreign to Moroccan society in general. It’s not just the Gnawa. Invoking the Prophet Muhammed and asking for forgiveness and healing is common to all or most Sufi groups in Morocco, including the Gnawa, so while the Gnawa are not Sufis per se, they are Sufi influenced. (in Byre 2009)  41  Unlike El Hamel and Meyers, Hell uses haratin to signify freed Gnawa. 101  The Gnawa concept of adorcism differs from the tenets of Islam. In Islam, “spirit possession is perceived as a harmful irruption” (Hell 1999:35), so the ill-stricken non-Gnawa Muslim seeks exorcism. Gnawa practice spirit accommodation, however, because they regard spirit possession as potentially beneficial to the initiate. According to Heusch (1962), the two ways in which possession is treated represent diametrically opposed concepts. Instead of expulsion, Gnawa placate spirits with a temporary ritual possession or over a longer period of time, cultivating a symbiotic relationship with the spirits which inhabit them (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2006–2009). Gnawa perform exorcism if absolutely required,42 but rather than being “experts in expelling jnūn from persons who are troubled with them” (Westermarck 1926:379) as described in earlier writings,43 they are masters in “working the spirits” (Kapchan 2007:39) and able to “serve others in the capacity of an adept” (ibid.). Moqaddema Zaida told me, “There is exorcism but I don’t do it. My mother was powerful and she would do it when necessary. My father would play the guembri but he didn’t like participating in these ceremonies. I am not as strong as my mother. She was great. I am afraid” (personal communication, 2009). While the Gnawa may perform exorcism, the very nature and function of their ritual activities—for example, commensality (with the spirits) following animal sacrifice—suggests that “The curative principle is... not to expel the spirits but, unlike the goal of exorcism, to restore harmony through their presence” (Hell 1999:286). “For the ignoramus the Gnawa are exorcists, ‘hunters of devils’; for the initiates, alliance with these same entities represents the true finality of their rituals” (Hell 2002:118).  42  Exorcism may be called for by the Gnawa for inflicting jnun who do not belong to the Gnawa pantheon and “resist” propitiation (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2007). 43 Brunel said, “The Gnawa are experts in exorcism” (1988[1926]:186). 102  3.2.3 A Marginalized Practice: Contrasts with Sufi and Other Trance Rituals  Gnawa share Muslim beliefs and the use of music and movement in ritual practices with Sufi orders in general;44 however, absence of a lineage that traces back to the Prophet, a founding saint, or shaykh,45 and their fundamental concept for musical practice set them apart from the brotherhoods. This and other reasons partially explain their social marginalization. The origins of Sufi orders are made explicit, usually through a named founding father (generally the name of the order), his birthplace, the date of inception, and a written hagiography. Furthermore, Sufi practitioners participate in an annual celebration (mussem) that entails ritual visits to their saint’s tomb, those affiliated with him, and holy sites nearby. For example, it is known that the ‘Aissawa brotherhood was founded in the sixteenth century by Sidi ben ‘Aissa, a Sufi adept from Meknes, and the Hamadsha brotherhood was founded in the eighteenth century by two Moroccan saints near the city of Meknes, Sidi ‘Ali ben Hamdush and [his servant] Sidi Ahmed Dghughi. 46 The Gnawa, on  According to Nasser, among the goals of Sufism is to “lead man from the world of form to the world of the spirit” (1972:66). For more discussion on Sufi practices, see Westermark (1926), Crapanzano (1973), Jones (1977), and Qureshi (1995). For introductory readings Jones (1977) recommends Anwarti and Gardet (1961), Arberry (1950), and Trimingham (1971). 45 Although Kapchan says, “It is important to say that the Gnawa are not Sufis in the sense that they don't have a shaykh, and they don’t have a hagiography, writings left by that shaykh” (in Byre 2009), when I asked Moqaddema Zaida whether the Gnawa are Sufi, she responded: “Yes, we are Sufi.” “I’ve read that you’re not Sufi,” I said. She asserted, “Gnawa is Sufi. It’s the same thing” (personal communication, Z.Gania, 2007). Fuson suggests that some Gnawa musicians, knowing that Sufism is “a world music buzzword… will tell you they play Sufi music” (2009:16). Though this could be the case with Moqaddema Zaida, her response seemed genuine as the word “Sufi” never came up until I asked. Moreover, it was my second research trip and she knew there was no need to sell Gnawa to me. 46 The Hamadsha brotherhood “traces its spiritual heritage back to two Moroccan saints of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, Sidi ‘Ali ben Hamdush and [his servant] Sidi Ahmed Dghughi... buried and venerated [near] the city of Meknes... Sidi ‘Ali... in ... the wealthy city village of Beni Rachid, and Sidi Ahmed... in the much poorer village of Beni Ouarad” (Crapanzano 1973:1, 3). See Jones 1977 and Crapanzano 1973 for detailed information on the ‘Aissawa and Hamadsha brotherhoods. 44  103  the other hand, “[have no] writings, not even any oral hagiography that is passed on from generation to generation… of all the mystic cults in Morocco that employ trance… the Gnawa are the least understood” (Kapchan 2002:n.pag.). Perhaps as Bourdieu says: “[in] non-literate societies […] inherited knowledge can only survive in the incorporated state” (1990:73).47 The Gnawa settle the matter of genealogical absence by claiming descent from Bilal. Not only was he the first sub-Saharan convert to Islam and an emancipated slave, he was among the first Muslims (Dermenghem 1953). Gnawa discourse reiterates that in addition to being the first caller to prayer, Bilal was the Prophet’s “word, his spittle” (Pâques 1978:326),48 and one of his closest companions. His special relationship with the Prophet is said to have brought him baraka. In spite of their affiliation to Bilal, how or when the Gnawa community came into being remains unclear, only that it originated with the sub-Saharans in Morocco. The place of death and burial of Bilal is not known rendering it impossible to venerate the body of their patron saint with an annual visit. Instead, Gnawa visit the tombs of other “saint slaves... [such as that of] Sidi Mimun” (1991:60). Furthermore, Zaouia Sidna Bilal has been erected in the city of Essaouira in his honor. Though fewer in number today, Gnawa, joined by Hamadsha and ‘Aissawa groups, continue to partake in the mussem of Bilal during the month of Sha‘ban , “at the time when Bilal rises to the heavens and dies” (1978:326). A second canonical feast, Mulid (the Prophet’s anniversary), celebrates “the time when he comes back to earth” (ibid.). During this time the Gnawa near Marrakech, along  47  Like the Gnawa, the Hamadsha also attract a large number of the illiterate population. According to Crapanzano, French scholars classify Hamadsha as a confrérie populaire (popular brotherhood), “a sort of degenerate form of the Sufi brotherhoods of the Muslim high tradition, corrupted by the base imagination of le peuple, by survivals from the ancient religions of the circum-Mediterranean culture area, and by pagan influences from sub-Saharan Africa” (Crapanzano 1973:1). 48 See El Hamel (2008:250 [fn.49]) and Hell (2002), among other Gnawa scholars. 104  SUFI PRACTICES  GNAWA PRACTICE  FUNCTION  nearness to Allah attract, invoke, interact mystical union with Allah with mluk  TRANCE TYPE  ecstatic  possession  MUSICAL ELEMENTS  vocal may be instrumental  vocal instrumental  Figure 3.10 Sufi and Gnawa practices. Contrasts between function, type of trance and musical elements.  with ‘Aissawa and Hamadsha, make ritual visits to three holy sites in the Marrakech area,49 two of which are associated with the shrines of the Hamadsha and ‘Aissawa.50 Music, while a shared element in Gnawa and many Sufi practices, also serves as a point of distinction with respect to its function, the type of trance it engenders, and the musical material (Figure 3.10). Sufi and Sufi-influenced rituals are based on the concept of sama‘ (literally “listening”) that functions to connect man to God offering “the possibility of relief through music and trance” (Fuson 2009:293).51 It consists of the reiteration of Islamic verses, continual reference to Allah and the Prophet, and the singing of poetic texts. Depending on the listener’s spiritual capacity, emotional arousal, and God’s will, the participant may reach a nearness to and eventually mystical union with Allah “exteriorized 49  Pâques describes the symbolic images of the three holy sites found on the Atlas mountain range in the South of Marrakech: “Sidi Fars, an image of the foreskin (the head of the male organ), a shrine of the Hamača [Hamadsha] order; Mulay Brahim, an image of the body (and thus of the sex organ), a shrine of the ‘Aïssawa; and finally, in the plains, the Tamesloth boulder, an image of the tree root and a shrine of the Gnawa” (1978:323–24). 50 In 2009, I accompanied Moqaddema Zaida and her family to visit the holy sites of Mulay Brahim and Mulay Abdallah ben Hsein (Mulay Brahim’s grandfather) during Mulid. We did not visit the Hamadsha shrine, but looking at Sidi Fars from Mulay Brahim’s shrine, Moqaddema Zaida spoke of how she used to accompany her father and other Gnawa to the top of the mountain. 51 Sama‘ literally means listening or audition. In Sufism, sama‘ refers to the listening of spiritual music. Becker’s idea of emotional arousal made possible by deep listeners of music derives from an age-old concept believed by Sufis who for centuries have practised a ceremony called sama‘ that is “focussed on the listener... and on his spiritual capacity for receiving what he hears, including all the implications of an ecstatic response” (Qureshi 1995:82). 105  by means of dance” (Rouget 1985:270). Music in such rituals mediates a voyage that brings devotees towards Allah; in essence, a journey whose destination can only be attained by few, and approached through careful listening and the ability to decipher Sufi poetry. The Gnawa, like their Sufi siblings, repeatedly chant and recollect God’s name throughout the lila, invoke the protection and forgiveness of the Prophet Mohammed, and venerate Islamic saints; however, they also believe in the power and influence of supernatural entities and have a repertoire dedicated to them (Chapter 2). Music, rather than used to approach Allah, functions to invoke, attract, and interact with the mluk. While listening is fundamental to the lila, other sensory stimulants and symbols, such as colors and fragrances, complement sound. The immersion and intoxication of the senses sends adepts (and even unseasoned participants) adrift on a veritable lake of illusions fully preparing them for possession trance. Furthermore, Gnawa believe the appropriate combination of these elements constitutes an offering that propitiates and pleasures the spirit who responds by presenting itself in human form during the lila. As its name suggests, possession trance, unlike ecstatic trance, involves ownership. Music mediates a voyage between supernatural and temporal realms. It functions as a pathway through which humans can communicate and interact with the unseen, and through which the unseen communicates their presence in bodily manifestation—dancing, displaying gestures characteristic of their respective personalities (Chapter 6), or speaking through the possessed. In essence, music engenders a visit from another realm that involves interaction and incorporation through deep listening and the ability to decode musical events, primarily instrumental ones.  106  According to Kapchan, Gnawa are “a ta’ifa (a community) rather than a tariqa (Sufi path)” (2008:55 [fn.1]), though they share elements of Sufi practices.52 Within the ritual frame, music serves as an offering fundamental to achieving the goals of the Gnawa lila mentioned in Chapter 2 by venerating Allah and His messenger, the Prophet Mohammed, and by invoking the mluk. Music in Sufi rituals facilitates a mystical union with Allah and enacts the distinction between the Creator (Allah) and the created (man), not to mention a social hierarchy based on lineage (Qureshi 1995). Sufi practitioners believe in the existence of supernatural entities, but not in an alliance. “They don’t want to traffic with the spirits. It’s a dangerous place to be. The Gnawa, they are specialists in the spirit world… the realm in which they live” (Kapchan in Byre 2009).53 Although enacting their connection and relationship with supernatural entities through music distinguishes the Gnawa from Sufi practitioners, and aligns them more closely with sub-Saharan cultures and their diaspora, the way in which music accomplishes its goal bears some resemblance. Music is essential for inciting movement in order to facilitate trance in both Gnawa and Sufi ceremonies; however, the material (i.e., the signifying facet) differs. Having no written tradition, the lila contrasts with the poetically-inspired texts heard in the sama‘. Unlike Sufi rituals, some of which have purely vocal music,54 the abstract sound of instruments is meaningful and has primacy in the lila. Sufi music communicates with the human world (Figure 3.11) such that the sama‘ is focused on the practitioner, on his capacity to listen deeply and decipher the text in order to effectuate trance. The lila, on the other hand, 52  Pâques (1991) and Hell (2002), on the other hand, consider the Gnawa as a brotherhood and hence Sufis. 53 For a discussion of differences between Gnawa and other Moroccan groups with respect to the status of ritual actors, performance roles, and sonic and kinaesthetic textures, see Fuson (2009). 54 I attended some of these during the Fes Sacred Music Festival in 2006. Qureshi writes: “[Sufi] orders with a more orthodox orientation… prohibit[s] [the] use [of music] altogether or compromise by permitting mystical songs unaccompanied by instruments” (1995:82). 107  Allah  music (text)  Sufi  spirits  music (text, guembri)  Gnawi  Figure 3.11 Communicative goal of music in Sufi and Gnawa practices.  is centered on the mluk, therefore communication with the mluk is the fundamental purpose of musical practice. During the ritual, singing always stops as moments intensify giving way to the guembri. This has also been observed in Candomblé rituals: “Once [the initiates] reached possession, the singing often ceased. Only the vibrant sounds of the atabaques [drums] and agogô rhythms continued” (Henry 2008:68). Perhaps, as Daniel writes, “some gestures and movement sequences signal a literal meaning, but more often the social circumstances of performers have created a deep reliance on the abstracted expressiveness of the dancing body and on nonverbal communication procedures” (2005:63). Parallels seem to exist with the practice of syncretic religions in Africa and the Americas in which the abstract medium of music accommodates the majority. The vocal section of Gnawa music, like in the sama‘, is directed toward the practitioner as well as the supernatural entities, though it functions in a different way. 108  According to Pâques (1991), “[the songs of the derdeba] are never clear and explicit. Allusion is the rule. It relies on a play on words or the exclusive choice of the initial word of a verse, the other words having no importance. The effect on the listener is everything but discourse: he receives a series of small shocks that arouse his attention and provoke a symbolic puzzle that causes him to fall [into trance]” (1991:81). Coded like the guembri motives, these puzzles may only be deciphered by initiates.55 Perhaps in the case of African words, the familiarility of the “vocables” and knowledge of their origins work to trigger an emotional response, even though their meanings have been forgotten today (personal communication, Gania family, 2006–2009).56 Conversely, the clear and frequent reiteration of the spirit’s name functions to explicitly communicate the identity of the supernatural entity being invoked at any given moment of the lila. Participants moved by the utterance of their melk’s name get up to dance. The power attached to a name alone is affirmed in zikr, “the rhythmic repetition of God’s name or a short phrase in his praise” (Qureshi 1995:246). In possession rituals, patterned sounds accommodate the presence of its guests using both the textual language of humans and instrumental language of spirits. While instrumental music is significant to possession trance, all these rituals begin with song, which leads to dance and then to possession. Euba writes that the Yoruba priest in Nigeria, “in order to initiate dancing... did not address the drummers (who would eventually play a major role in 55  In my experience with Si Mohammed, a Gnawi who has played qraqab and sung for the Ganias for most of his life, it was a challenge for him to transcribe the words for performances, particularly those that were not amplified, which is usual for lila-s. This was partly due to the understated and low volume of the solo voice after the initial word of the phrase, the overlapping of the choral part at the end of a phrase and the overpowering sonority of multiple pairs of qraqab. Si Mohammed conveyed that it is not always clear what the Gania masters are saying and that even when it is, what is being said may not be understood because it is codified and/or African. 56 A loss of meaning in certain words has also been noted by practitioners of Candomblé: “although many… are able to sing or speak some phrases in Yoruba, many are not able to give a literal translation of song lyrics… simply aware of symbolic and liturgical contexts of the specific texts and phrases as they relate to a particular orixá or musical repertoire” (Henry 2008:68). 109  the dance [during trance]) but rather requested a song from the chanter... song may be regarded as being synonymous with dance or at least something that automatically leads to dance” (1988:13). Duration and complexity of the music increase when the spirit arrives and interacts with an experienced adept. A wordless conversation becomes observable between the gestures of the dancer and motives of the musician (Chapter 6). In addition to the contrast in function, trance type, and signifying facet of Gnawa musical practice, perhaps the marginality of the Gnawa lila may be further explained by its aesthetic otherness, as described by Jankowsky with regard to the Stambeli:  The lyrics, which are sung mostly in dialectical Arabic, are nevertheless considered ‘ajmi (non-Arabic) due to the occasional appearance of words from sub-Saharan languages and the nasal, understated delivery of the lyrics, which, in contrast to the ideals of enunciation in Arabic music, is not explicitly concerned with the (human) listener’s comprehension of the words. Stambeli aesthetics are not common components of the Tunisian public sphere; they are not readily available, or even recognizable, to many Tunisians. They are radically other. (2010:4)  Some Moroccan Sufi orders have incorporated aspects of Gnawa into their own rituals. For example, the hadra (literally presence) ceremony of the Hamadsha “is divided into three principal parts: the hot part… the cold part… and the hadra gnawiyya, which uses the instruments of the cold part [nira or ganbri] but is derived from the ceremonies of the Gnawa” (Crapanzano 1973:192). There is also the ‘Aissawa’s use of ritual sacrifice to “contact the spirit world… a Sudanese… practice borrowed from the Gnawa” (Brunel 1988:11). The power of mortification rituals during the hadra ceremonies of these brotherhoods, however, is attributed to the presence of Allah rather than spirit possession as believed by the Gnawa. Although the lila lays bare the pre-Islamic beliefs and practices, and evinces the resilience of indigenous cultures, the frequent utterance of the names and epithets 110  of Allah and the Prophet throughout invocations of the mluk, as mentioned in Chapter 2, suggests that everything, including possession, happens under Allah’s will, or at the very least under the protection of His almighty power. Still, as El Hamel writes, “the Gnawa receive little attention in Islamic scholarship, presumably because they are not a mystic order proper, as they do not seek the conventional personal union with the divine. Instead, their contact with the spirit world acts as an intermediary through which divine communion may be accomplished” (2008:255).  3.2.4 Secularization and Popularity  Sonic textures of the Gnawa began entering the Moroccan consciousness outside of the ritual sphere by the 1960s. In 1959 the Moroccan government initiated the National Festival of Popular Arts in order to “contribute to the conservation of the national heritage of oral traditions” (Festival National des Arts Populaires website). Much of this was motivated by a national interest to gain international recognition and to boost tourism by marketing culture through the arts. Cherqi explains that there was an incentive to “create popular groups... We must refer to the efforts made by the Ministry of Tourism in his action in favour to our national patrimony since it organizes annual festivals in order to make known our folklore and our human values... to make our characteristics appreciable to the other nations” (1981:27).57 This optimistic tone resonates with Waitt’s investigation of festival spaces as geographies of hope. “When conceptualized as spaces of hope [rather than spaces of helplessness], opportunities to regenerate the social life of local communities are still present,  57  Reproduced from the original translation of the French text. 111  even when local municipal authorities deploy festivals as civic spectacle to attract mobile capital and affluent tourists. (2008:515–16). During this period and the following decades, Gnawa tunes reached the western shores of the Atlantic in newly composed forms via visits by African-American artists such as Randy Weston and Jimi Hendrix (Ham et al. 2007; Kapchan 2007; Kirchgabner 2007; Weston 2010). In the 1970s, popular (sha‘bi) folk music groups in Morocco such as Nass ElGhiwan played tunes inspired by the Gnawa tradition using the guembri among other traditional instruments. In the 1980s the Moroccan playwright Tayyeb Seddiki, in collaboration with André Azoulay (counselor to the King) and the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism, organized the first world music festival in Essaouira that featured musics of the Gnawa and of other countries (Ross et al. 2002:39-40). A second Gnawa music session, “not called a ‘festival’” (ibid.:40), due to its small size, was organized in 1986 with the support of the President of the Municipal Council. Now over a decade after the inception of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival in 1998, popularization, commercialization, and secularization of a once sacred and secret repertoire has been achieved. My Gnawa friends recall the first festival in 1998 with fondness. Previously called the Gnaoua Festival, the locally organized event was an intimate gathering of Gnawa masters from various parts of Morocco. Its purpose was to celebrate the music tradition of the Gnawa and featured their performances alone (personal communication, Gania family, 2001).58 In those days the masters drew from the pre-possession phase of the lila that  Rather than being locally organized, El Hamel writes: “With… their appeal to tourists, the Moroccan government in 1997 established The Gnawa and World Music Festival in Essaouira” (2008:260). According to Kapchan, it was “The brain-child of several professionals, including Moroccan ethnopsychiatrist and scholar of the Gnawa, Abdelhafid Chlyeh, as well as Neîla Tazi, Jane Lovelace, Abdessallam Alikane, and Pascal Amel, the festival began with only the music of the Gnawa and a few European artists that had collaborated with them” (2008:59). 58  112  comprises the skilled dances performed by the music ensemble (Chapter 5). Music for possession dance was off-limits on stage and reserved for sacred occasions (personal communication, M. Outanine, 2009).59 The success of the first festival prompted the Essaouira-Mogador Association,60 who was involved in its inauguration, to make it an annual event. Since then it has been contracted to a communication and event planning firm. In 2001, “and World Music” was added to the Gnaoua Festival. Ross et al. write that Gnawa m‘allem-s consider the first festival “the only ‘successful’ festival, and the only one they would call ‘Gnaoua’… those who came to listen were those they called ‘friends’ of the Brotherhood… who have an interest in and an understanding of Gnaoua culture… this first festival was the last time they were consulted and felt like they were included” (2002:41). For the Gania masters the first Gnaoua Festival was “different from the rest” (personal communication, 2006–2009). Since then the festival has grown dramatically and a social hierarchy has gradually developed, both elevating the status of Gnawa music and the Gnawa m‘allem, and simultaneously distancing him from the people (Figure 3.12). Secularization of music traditions in the era of globalization is neither new nor unique to Gnawa. It is a common phenomenon and behavior adopted by religious cultures associated with music that has rendered a set of complex consequences both beneficial and deleterious to the culture in general and to music and music-making in particular. Among the AfroIn contrast, Kapchan describes: “In the first several years of the Gnawa festival, the ceremonies were performed in venues open to the public. The enactments included the public sacrifice of a sheep, as well as the burning of ritual incense to placate the spirits of the possessed” (2008:59). 60 Essaouira-Mogador Association is a branch of the Association for the Preservation of the City of Essaouira. The association was initiated in the 1990s by prominent families in Essaouira. Membership includes people in government, university, and other professions who may still live in Essaouira, or who moved to other cities but have a vested interest in its success. Other branches are established in Rabat, Casablanca, Marrakech, and Agadir. André Azoulay (counsellor to the King) is an important member. He is considered “‘the locomotive, the engineer, and the strategist’ of the new developments in the city” (Ross et al. 2002:32), playing an influential role in the “recent tourism boom in Essaouira” (ibid.). 59  113  Figure 3.12 Sound check at Place Moulay Hassan during the 2009 Gnaoua Festival. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  Cuban Santería, the “regime [chose] to support selectively some of Cuba’s African-based religious traditions, legalizing certain practitioners and mainstreaming these religions and their adherents into the tourist trade” (Hagedorn 2001: 9).61 Majdouli says in her recent study of Gnawa musicians in domestic ceremonies and world music festivals that “the [Gnawa] festival was created to celebrate their musical tradition but has functioned like an operator of legitimacy. It is no longer a taboo to talk about the Gnawa like it was decades ago and the word ‘Gnawa’ has lost more and more of its negative attributes. […] Gnawa music, in the context of international recognition, is no longer considered only as folklore in Morocco but has acquired a status of musical art” (2007:143). M‘allem Mustapha Bakbou, among the most successful and respected Gnawa masters, expresses gratitude, “Thanks to the Gnaoua Festival, ‘tagnaouite’ has become an international music. It has been given a global value”  61  It should be noted that the Gnawa did not suffer the same fate of persecution as Santería practitioners in its early history “under the auspices of [Cuba’s] policy of scientific atheism” (Hagedorn 2001:9). The legitimatization of their music through the Gnawa festival, however, resembles the path of legalization, secularization, and popularization of Afro-Cuban Santería. 114  (A3 Communication 2007:17). Perhaps, as American anthropologist McKean observed of tourism in Bali in the 1970s, the secularization of Gnawa music has provided Gnawa “with an opportunity to preserve their social fabric while revitalizing their cultural traditions” (Picard 1990:38), or, in this case, legitimizing them. Despite objectifying their music culture and reducing its holistic practice to a purely musical event, national and international festivals provide the Gnawa with new artistic and lucrative opportunities. Unlike the lila, whose remuneration is unclear and dependent on spiritual fulfillment, not to mention the financial position of the sponsor, the festival provides a contract to the m‘allem—his pay and work schedule are fixed. Furthermore, by situating them in the presence of other world artists and before a mixed crowd of national and international tourists including researchers, tour organizers, wealthy (non-Gnawa) locals, and producers, m‘allem-s are exposed to additional opportunities for work. The festival meets with approval from the Gania masters. In addition to playing in festivals and government affairs, and appearing on public television, the Gania family has travelled abroad to Japan, Canada, France, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, and Mali, to name just a few places. M‘allem Abdallah finds inspiration in African American artists (e.g., Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley) and values the artistic exchange with other musicians during collaborative projects. With new globalscapes, Hell has noted progressive change with regard to the Gnawa’s fear of the mluk. He says that at the time of his initial investigations in the 1980s,62 it was “impossible to find an initiate susceptible to recite a chant or draw up the list of genies” (2002:346) for fear of invoking the sudden arrival of a genie that could bring insurmountable danger without the proper ritual barriers. In the 1990s, Gnawa ensembles 62  The year he began his initial investigations is not clear, though deduced from his monograph in which chapters are dated as journal entries, it is likely this was observed somewhere between the early 1980s and 1990s, when he held his first lila. 115  began performing in local festivals and touring abroad, initially playing pieces from the “entertainment” pre-possession portion of the lila, during which “genies are not provoked to possession among the participants” (ibid.) (see Chapter 5). By 1998, in contrast, “formidable genies [mluk from the possession portion] such as the first Blacks [the Mimun cohort] were invoked in a theatre in France” (ibid.), and by 2002 a compact disc featured “two invocations of Sebtiyin... 63 a step no initiate had ever dared to cross before... the ultimate barrier collapsed: Every genie, without exception, from now on could be invoked in a profane context” (ibid.:347). Hell refers to this as “the process of desecration” (ibid.:345). Kapchan conveys concern that “the ‘jadba beat,’... is being emptied of its ritual significance and its healing power in order to be circulated on the world music market” (2007:141). Similar to the Santería, “an inward-directed, noncommodified religious tradition becomes outwarddirected, commodified, staged, and secularized” (Hagedorn 2001:9), “re-contextualized in order to satisfy more fully their new... function: the uplifting, informing, and dignifying entertainment of the... people” (ibid.:67). An offshoot of festival programs is a new-found interest in marketing popular traditional music in the private sector. This has contributed to an increase in secular activities for Gnawa musicians and new social experiences for consumers. Hotels offer regular seasonal employment to Gnawa m‘allem-s: performing in the hotel restaurant, in the lobby, for private parties, and for specially organized events. Restaurants also hire Gnawa m‘allems to entertain their clientele during the summer months. These “modern” contexts of performance and consumption—including recording studios, research, and film production— have become a part of standard cultural practice among the Gnawa. Qraqab may be pared 63  Sebtyin is a powerful and dangerous spirit of the Gnawa pantheon belonging to the cohort of Jewish Spirits. 116  Figure 3.13 M‘allem Mokhtar performing at Sofitel with two qarqabiya. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  down to one or two pairs to suit the atmosphere of a particular occasion (Figure 3.13). In recent years a new social event has emerged, the “sacred” lila performed for a secular gathering. In essence this is a party held by the elite and middle-class society. Lila-s have always been held for festive celebrations such as birthdays, however, these were no different from other lila-s in that they were essentially offerings to the spirits. The issue with these events, according to Moqaddema Zaida, is not that they perform the ritual for a festive occasion but that important rules of conduct are broken: exclusion of invocations, inappropriate use of fragrances, and oversight of other important ritual items. Such transgressions are believed to have had repercussions on Gnawa members (e.g., illness, paralysis) and Gnawa society in general; specifically, the diminution of baraka manifested by an absence of miraculous performances and adepts capable of supporting some of the most powerful mluk. Moqaddema Zaida believes this wrath and loss will continue, and possibly intensify, if they are not careful. “Things are okay for the time being” (personal 117  communication, 2007, 2009), but there is no telling what can happen and when given the unpredictable nature of the mluk. The popularity and acceptance of Gnawa music, however, does not extend to the ritual practices for which it is intended or the worldview it enacts—the ‘bread and circus’ formula concealing underlying issues of marginality and social inequalities. A stigma remains attached to Gnawa rituals of spirit possession, particularly among more orthodox Muslims. My Moroccan Arabic language teacher was very outspoken about her opinion about the Gnawa. When I told her about the animal sacrifice at the mussem of Mulay Brahim, her reaction was one of condemnation: “They are disbelievers!” (personal communication, Zohr, 2009). She was passionate in her conviction that what I had seen was a violation of the Quran.64 My friends in Fez enjoyed Gnawa music; however, they drew a line between attending festival performances and going to sacred ceremonies. For example, my host sister in Fez, raised by conservative parents from the Moroccan countryside, was supportive of my research and active in helping me make connections. When I asked her to accompany me to a lila she had found out about, she was apprehensive. “I don’t like seeing what happens during trance. I cannot. I am scared. I can help you find a lila but I cannot go” (personal communication, Zineb, 2006). Despite the outward appreciation for the music, evident in its popularity among the younger male population at festivals and among the middle-aged  She told me the story of Abraham’s sacrifice (Quran 37:101–109). Just when he was about to perform the sacrificial act, a voice stopped him and his son was “ransomed … with a costly victim” (ibid.:107). She explained to me that sacrifice was only ever made for Allah, never for a human (dead saint or otherwise), and only one time a year on the day of ‘Id al-Kbir (the Great Sacrifice) to re-enact Abraham’s submission to God. 64  118  female population at rituals,65 Gnawa practices remain little understood, illicit, and feared by the society at large. Nonetheless, the power and significance of their music warrants recognition, for because of it “the Gnawa as a distinct ethnic group in modern-day Morocco [gradually] turned their marginalized status into a collective identity” (El Hamel 2008:247). The role of the m‘allem as a cultural ambassador of Morocco in local and international events has contributed to legitimization of a once marginalized (and secret society), in addition to creating potential for social and economic benefits once unimaginable. Within a social system stratified along saintly lines, however, their political status—like the perception of the more conservative Islamic society which continues to fear and condemn their ritual practices—has changed little, if at all. Even though it has become trendy for upper echelons of society to patronize the services of high profile Gnawa m‘allem-s, the interest of disenchanted youth eager to adopt the Gnawa identity testifies and contributes to their continued marginality.66 Gnawa today straddle two realities: accepted, even revered, as musicians, and feared and condemned for their ritual practices and affiliation with the unseen.  3.2.5 A Secret Society  Inasmuch as the Gnawa are still marginalized for their ritual beliefs and practices, they also remain a secret society. Some Gnawa observe a strict code of conduct and forbid  65  During the mussem of Sidi Bilal I met some women who attended the celebration like any other social event, in spite of its sacred context and meaning; and other women who were reluctant to admit their presence at a Gnawa lila to their friends. 66 Claisse makes a similar observation (2003:25). 119  the presence of non-Gnawa, while others permit their attendance and participation. According to Weston’s experience in the 1960s, he was initially refused attendance for his own protection.  My first experience with a Gnawa spiritual ceremony, an actual Lila, came in 1969. As I said, at first they wouldn’t let me experience a Lila. It was not permitted to attend one if you were not part of that society, because they always said people have gotten physically harmed if their spirit wasn’t right when they were in the room during a Lila. (Weston 2010:175) In a conversation with Moqaddema Zaida she alluded not to protection but secrecy: “The past was not like now. The lila was only for the Gnawa. My mother [the late Moqaddema ‘Aisha] locked the doors. Some people listened from outside the door. My mother didn’t let them in” (personal communication, Z. Gania, 2009). When I asked her about Pâques who spent forty years (beginning in the 1960s) learning the Gnawa way of life and becoming a moqaddema herself,67 she said: “My mother knew about Madame Pâques [she used to wonder]... ‘Why was the moqaddem telling a stranger our things? These are our things’” (ibid.). In a low voice, as if in response to her mother’s question, Moqaddema Zaida said, “They [the mluk] chose her. She was chosen” (ibid.). The Gania masters are committed to safeguarding their tradition. Moqaddema Zaida’s inherited responsibility to safeguard their culture, pass it on to her daughters, and maintain a level of secrecy or code of conduct may be noted in Lapassade’s field experience with two moqaddema-s, one of Gnawa lineage (Moqaddema Zaida Gania), the other chosen by the spirits later in life (Fatima): “Zeida [Gania] does not reveal her mida [platter of sacred items for the mluk]. It is only visible one time a year during the moussem [annual celebration] of the seer when present at the place of sacrifice... But I could see the mida of Fatima in her 67  Pâques bought a house in Tamesloht where she would hold lila-s. 120  alcove where it is covered with a green veil” (1999:37).68 I experienced and observed the secrecy of the Ganias on a few different occasions. One particularly memorable incident took place during Moqaddema Zaida’s Sha‘ban lila. The Gania family possesses an exclusive repertoire that they perform once a year during this important time in the presence of family and close friends. As Moqaddema Zaida was preparing for the upcoming sequence, she suddenly screamed and fell to the ground. The melk had arrived. Looking grand and fearsome, “Zaida” sprung up and pointed to a few spectators signaling them to leave. I was in close proximity to one of them. Her nephew must have seen the compliance in my eyes and before I could move he said, “Not you.” Despite the secularization and popularity of their music culture, safeguarding their tradition remains a priority to hereditary practitioners and their older apprentices. Though the society is decentralized, Gnawa ensembles adhere to regional or familial rules of conduct. Some groups limit themselves to playing pieces from the pre-possession repertoire, while others play possession pieces but stipulate which should or should not be performed determined by the power and importance of the supernatural entity. A decentralized body, however, runs the risk of loss and complete desecration, since no authority exists to enforce global rules—in essence, Gnawa may do as they wish. An unwritten rule that seems to be adhered to is the playing of possession pieces in random order for big stage performances; that is, re-arranging the order of musical suites and stringing together pieces from different suites. Defying such rules may result in severe repercussions and stories abound of m‘allem-s (and moqaddema-s) who have gotten sick because they dared to ignore regulation—perhaps it is the spirits who hold the authority to govern and sanction all Gnawa branches.  68  Moussem is an alternate spelling of mussem. 121  On stage, the Ganias, like the majority of m‘allem-s, perform in the musical style called tagnawit Gharbaoui, or Gharbaoui style—a mix of different styles from Rabat, Casablanca, and Marrakesh (personal communication, A. Gania, 2009). Region-specific interpretations and family-owned repertoire exist, however, their performance is restricted to select contexts and participants, such as for the purpose of a lila,69 the needs of a patient, and tours abroad (to a crowd unlikely to bootleg or imitate). Nowadays, affordable digital technology allows the public to capture Gnawa performances and the proliferation of CDs and DVDs, produced cheaply, easily, and quickly—virtually overnight—has rendered music that was once limited to private (secret) sacred lila-s and annual celebrations highly accessible (see Section 3.1.5.2). The Gania masters guard tagnawit Souiri, not to mention their own interpretation of it, wary of the enterprising who are eager to copy, imitate, exploit, and “take what does not belong to them” (personal communication, Gania masters, 2007). Though the Ganias have knowledge of different styles, they restrict themselves to playing tagnawit Gharbaoui, effectively standardizing the performance of the sacred repertoire to preserve their culture. While the overall popularity and familiarity of their music contrasts with the infamy of their spirit possession ceremonies, not to mention the lack of knowledge of the ritual occasion, one may wonder whether maintaining a degree of obscurity is convenient for the organizers as much as it is deliberate for the culture bearers. Kapchan writes:  Anthropologist Bertrand Hell notes that the Gnawa have even cultivated a reputation as charlatans and tricksters to deflect attention away from more serious aspects of their rituals and to thus preserve them (Hell 2002). In this scenario, the line between commercialism and mysticism is ambiguous, and M‘allem Abdallah performs either tagnawit Gharbaoui or Souiri. He may vary between them from suite to suite depending on the demands of the sponsors, moqaddema, and the needs of the possessed. 69  122  the Gnawa play on this ambiguity fully, claiming both ritual secrecy and market mastery. (Kapchan 2008:60)  Despite the marginalization still faced by Gnawa and the secrecy of their practices, there is doubtless an increased public acceptance and knowledge. New social contexts and experiences have given a voice to the Gnawa. Their music has been awarded global currency—from the use of the guembri in alternative folk-pop groups, to albums and songs inspired by Gnawa rhythms, to fusion collaborations and invitations worldwide. In Morocco, the word “Gnawa” and their music are heard on public radio and television, seen in journals and newspapers, grace the walls of CD shops, and blare from medina speakers. Far from being taboo, Gnawa music has given rise to one of the most popular festivals in Morocco and has acquired a mainstream identity in the world music/world beat scene comparable to the trajectory of other African and African-derived traditions such as the Afro-Cuban Santería. Weston says, “Moroccans are all touched by Gnawa [nowadays]; all the young, educated Moroccans are all influenced by Gnawa culture—black culture” (2009:172). With both praise and critique by the Gania masters, popularity has now rendered commercial, commodified, and extra-ordinary what was once marginalized, secret, and routine. In the process, new rules of conduct have developed to accommodate new contexts that preserve yet present their culture and give them a voice throughout Morocco and beyond.  123  Chapter 4 Musical Structure 4.1 Instruments, Timbre, and Strings  There are five timbral layers in Gnawa music produced from three main instruments introduced in earlier chapters: the guembri, qraqab, and voice.1 The guembri is a fretless, three-string, percussive bass-lute made from wood, camel skin, and goat intestines (Figure 4.1). It produces three timbres: deep melodic tones of strings made from braided goat intestines, attached to the neck with leather laces, that are plucked, strummed, or struck with the fingernails; high and low pitches produced by using fingertips to tap percussive rhythms on the camel skin face; and the sympathetic jingle of a sersera attached to the neck,2 audible during solo moments. The fourth timbre is the dense continuous rhythmic pattern produced by the qraqab (Figure 4.2). Ostinati are played in successive alternation between the right and left hands; players stress that the resulting sound should be unaccented (personal communication, A. Gania, May 2009). Historically made of iron, but now using a steel alloy, the instrument produces a sonic texture that “imitates the sound of a horse’s gallop” (Pâques 1991:217),  1  The analyses in this and following chapters are based mainly on transcribed field recordings of performances by M‘allem Abdallah. These include an entire lila (August 2007) and multiple recordings of some suites and pieces from both lila-s and secular occasions (June 2006, July–August 2007, March–June 2009). Transcribed performances by M‘allem Mahmound (August 2007), M‘allem Mokhtar (June 2006, August 2007), in addition to commercial recordings of M‘allem Hamida Boussou and Hamid El-Kasri, not to mention conversations with the Gania family have also contributed to my understanding. 2  The sersera is a percussion instrument that consists of metal loops or rings attached around the edges of a metal sheet. A similar instrument is used as an attachment to other African and Africanderived instruments, such as the West African djembe or Stambeli guinbri of Tunisia. 124  sersera  Figure 4.1 Guembri. (Photograph by Maisie Sum) (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)  Figure 4.2 Qraqab. (Photograph by Maisie Sum)  125  referring to the horse that carries the possessed during mystical trances.3 While my teacher, Si Mohammed, also notes a resemblance to the gait of a horse (details in Time I section below), he also says that the qraqab evoke memories of slavery, associated with images of sub-Saharans crossing the Sahara to Morocco in chains (personal communication, M. Outanine, 2009). The fifth layer consists of two timbres of male voices: the solo voice of the m‘allem who sings out impassioned calls to the genies, and the denser sonority of the qarqabiya who respond in chorus. While the voice holds a significant place as explicit linguistic identifier of a melk warranting analysis (Chapter 2), this chapter focuses on the part which is vital to the dynamics of possession trance.4 On the one hand, ritual participants groove to the riffs and repeating motives; on the other, the unseen are called by their iconic motives. Based on her observations of a lila, anthropologist Majdouli writes (see Section 3.2):  The most coveted place is exactly in front of the guembri. The instrument is the master of the game. It is the guembri that attracts the mlouk [mluk] in the dance space and drives trance. The qraqab maintain a regular strident sound but it is the plucking of the bass notes and the changing melody that effectively signify the call of the motto of the Blacks and that invariably attracts the dancers. (Majdouli 2007:46) The musical stature of the guembri was also iterated by a Gnawi friend who said, “the guembri captures everything” (personal communication, Abderrahim, 2006), with reference to the fusion performances during the Gnaoua Festival. Of all the Gnawa instruments, the guembri is “[a]t the heart of the order itself” (Pâques 1978:326). It is “the sultan, or Allah... the receptacle of the genies... ‘like someone Besmer’s (1983) equestrian idiom delineates the relationships during spirit possession between gods, chosen adepts (or vessels), and ritual assistants as “divine horsemen,” “mounts,” and “grooms,” respectively. 4 Analysis of the vocal part shall be addressed in future projects. See Fuson (2009:162–176). 3  126  who knocks on the door (of the mluk)’” (1991:221), and “a living genie” (Claisse 2003:99). The polyvalence of the guembri attests to its significance among the Gnawa community, which is further demonstrated in ritual action. During a sacred ritual, it is brought offerings before all other instruments; it is also first to be thurified, sprinkled with milk and orange blossom water, presented with dates, and given blood after sacrifice. On a weekly basis the guembri is nourished with incense and given special care. Held directly above the brazier, the incense wafts directly into the guembri’s mouth, after which the m‘allem plays it for a short while (Figure 3.8). When not being used, the guembri is placed upright, standing on a cushion or sofa “like a scepter, or better, like a companion” (Claisse 2003:99). “For a Gnawi the gumbri is the most valuable asset… One day we asked a m‘allam in jest what he would do if he suddenly became a billionaire. He immediately replied: ‘I would make a gumbri out of gold’” (Pâques 1991:221).5 Gnawa melodies played on the guembri are produced by three strings typically named zir, tahtiya, and ntoi (personal communication, M‘allem Abdallah, 2006–2009) (Figure 4.3).6 M‘allem Abdallah and Si Mohammed liken these to a string family; that is, father, mother, and child, respectively. Zir/father is the low bass string positioned on the top; tahtiya/mother is the middle string, approximately a fourth higher, positioned on the bottom; and ntoi/child is the high string, an octave above the bass string, positioned in the center between the father and mother (personal communication, 2006–2009).7  5  For a semiotic analysis of the instruments see Pâques (1991:216–221). Variations on the string names are, respectively, raghoul, lotra, and loustiya (personal communication, A. Gania, 2009); and zir, dhar (back), and n’tiwa (virgin) (Amara 2008:32). 7 The batá drums of the Afro-Cuban Santería tradition and the Balinese drums and gongs also name high and low pitches; however, in contrast, the lowest pitch drum is the mother rather than the father (Hagedorn 2001), and only gender references (i.e., female and male) apply to the Balinese instruments. There is no correlation with a family or that of a child. Instruments are often played in pairs. 6  127  1. zir 1-A 2. tahtiya 2-A 2-B 2-C 3. ntoi  Figure 4.3 Guembri illustrating string number, name and fingerings.  4.2 Tuning, Pitch, and Scale  4.2.1 Tuning  The guembri is tuned to a gamut of relative pitches that vary by a semitone (or more) depending on a m‘allem’s vocal range. In order to facilitate discussion and comparison with other performances, I use cipher notation to represent scale degrees. As shown in Figure 4.4, the numbers 1–8 denote the single octave range of the guembri and the doubling of the lowest pitch. The open strings zir, tahtiya, and ntoi are tuned to pitches 1, 4, and 8, respectively. The ntoi is always played open, while the zir has two fingerings: position A (closest to the end of the neck) and B produce pitches 2 and 3,8 respectively. The tahtiya may have three fingerings: positions A, B, and C produce pitches 5, 6, and 7, respectively. The low-pitched string is usually tuned within the range of B1 and D2#, the mid-pitch between  8  Pitch 3 was introduced with the ‘Aisha Hamdushiya (discussed below). 128  String number String position String name Finger position Pitch range Avg. interval (cents)  1  2  3  top  bottom  middle  zir (father)  tahtiya (mother)  ntoi (child)  open  1-A  [1-B]  open  2-A  (2-B)  (2-C)  open  B1-D2#  C2#-E2  [D2-F2]  E2-G2  F2#-A2  (G2#-B2)  (A2-C3#)  B2-D3#  161 [122*]  * interval between ‘extra’ note  Cipher equivalent  335  1  2  189  326  [213*]  [3]  122*  4  5  204*  (6)  202 406  (7)  8  Figure 4.4 Correlation between strings, fingerings, pitches, and cipher equivalents. Pitches were measured using an electronic tuner. Note that the octave interval may not add up to 1200 cents. because of the relative tuning, pitches may be slightly flatter or sharper and result in a smaller or larger value. Based on the average intervallic spacing above, the octave is equivalent to 1212 cents. N.B. Finger position 1-A is situated closest to the end of the neck. (© Ethnomusicology, 2010, adapted with permission of the Society for Ethnomusicology.)  E2 and G2, and the highest pitch, an octave above the first, between B2 and D3#, “variants of a singular toneme” (Kubik 1985:55). The intervallic spacing between pitches is more or less preserved (Row 6). The same m‘allem, however, may vary his tuning from performance to performance (Figure 4.5, Rows 2, 5 and 8). For example, M‘allem Abdallah may tune the open strings to the low extreme of approximately B1↓,9 E2↓, and B2↑, referred to as msawi Abdellaoui (personal communication, M. Outanine, 2009), which yields the gamut of eight possible pitches shown in Row 2. Deviations from the tempered pitch are denoted in +/cents, where ‘0’ represents no deviation from the norm (Rows 3, 6, and 9). The intervals between successive pitches are also indicated in cents (Rows 4, 7, and 10). Like his brothers  9  The downward and upward arrows following the pitch symbols signify slightly flat or sharp pitches, respectively. 129  Cipher Equivalent  1  2  [3]  4  5  (6)  (7)  8  Low extreme (AG 2009)  B1↓  C2↑  D↓  E2↓  F2#↑  G2↑  A2↑  B2↑  -30  +15  0  -20  0  +10  0  +10  Deviation from tempered pitch (cents) Interval (cents) * interval between ‘extra’ note  145  365 185*  High extreme (AG 2009) Deviation from tempered pitch (cents) Interval (cents) * interval between ‘extra’ note  Deviation from tempered pitch (cents) Interval (cents) * interval between ‘extra’ note  180*  300 110*  190*  210 400  C2#↑  D2#↓  E2↑  F2#↑  G2#↑  A2#↓  B2↑  C3#↑  +5  -30  +20  +5  +5  -30  +35  +5  165  335 150*  Average (AG 2009)  220  200  185*  330 165*  165*  170 335  C2↑  D2↑  E2↓  F2↑  G2↑  A2↓  B2↓  C3↑  +20  +20  -20  +10  +20  -20  -20  +20  200  290 160*  130*  210  360 160*  200*  140 340  Figure 4.5 Guembri tunings of M‘allem Abdallah. Pitches were measured using an electronic tuner.  M‘allem-s Mahmoud and Mokhtar who tend toward the higher range,10 M‘allem Abdallah may also tune the open strings more than a step higher to C2#↑, F2#↑, and C3#↑ (Rows 5–7). A typical tuning of the Gnawa repertoire (msawi ‘alamiya), represented by M‘allem Abdallah’s average tuning (i.e., not low or high), consists of pitches ranging from C2↑ to C3↑ (Rows 8–10). According to Mensah (1970), a Western music-influenced Ghanian observing  In conversation with M‘allem Abdallah, he referred to the higher tuning as msawi tal‘a, the low tuning as msawi Abdallaoui, and the universal tuning as msawi ‘alamiya. 10  130  xylophone makers: It is “a virtue by which… a note [is experienced], not as an individuality, but as a member of a group, occupying some place in a tone-region where it belongs. This virtue provides no absolute guarantee for obtaining pitch accuracy, but its usefulness as a general guide cannot be over-stressed… their constant reference to other notes, was the relativity of a note to other members of the keyboard” (in Kubik 1985:31). Kubik writes: “An inner tuning model once learned and gradually internalized by the carrier of a tradition—and which may be either relative or absolute in its pitches—is projected on the ‘chaotic stimuli’ emerging from an untuned instrument” (ibid. 45). Kubik’s assessment of African tone-systems largely applies to Gnawa music.  4.2.2 Pitch  The inventory of Gnawa pitches can be observed at the beginning of a performance when the m‘allem checks the tuning of his guembri by playing the gamut of pitches, referred to as msawi,11 in a prescribed fashion resembling a tuning formula (Figure 4.6, Audio 4.1 and 4.2). When a guembri is newly stringed, however, the m‘allem checks the open strings, making larger adjustments if necessary, before entering the performance space. The coarse tuning is performed with the guembri placed lengthwise in front of the m‘allem, with the neck pointing towards him so he is able to push or pull the leather laces a greater degree. This requires the dexterity of both hands and feet to support the guembri body as he pulls on the straps. The open strings are sounded in an order similar to the following: a) the tahtiya (bottom position) [pitch 4], b) zir (top position) [pitch 1], c) ntoi (middle position) and zir (an  11  Msawi also used to refer to a key, scale, or mode in general. 131  octave apart) are strummed together from middle to top [pitches 8 and 1], followed by d) tahtiya [pitch 4], e) ntoi [pitch 8], f) tahtiya [pitch 4], and g) ntoi-zir [pitches 8 and 1]. In the presence of the audience the m‘allem plays the msawi and makes minor adjustments by gingerly nudging the leather laces with his left hand, shortening or lengthening the strings as needed, while strumming them with his right hand until he gets the desired sound.12 He then plays the msawi again. If he deems the instrument to be in tune, he may choose to delight in the sonority of the guembri for a few moments longer and display his virtuosity. In cases where this lasts as long as ten minutes, the m‘allem begins to gradually introduce the upcoming melody—exploring its mode in an improvised manner like an Indian alap—until finally the piece emerges and the qraqab join in, as a tabla might, regulating the previously unmetered melody.13 In the audio examples M‘allem Mahmoud (Audio 4.2) plays a more elaborated version than M‘allem Abdallah (Audio 4.1). Although similar variations on the same phrases are recognizable, M‘allem Mahmoud also tunes for pitch 6 by substituting it for pitch 7 (Figure 4. 6 b, Systems 2 and 4) and adds new phrases (Systems 5–9) that M‘allem Abdallah does not play (Figure 4.6 a).14 Verifying pitches by playing the msawi resembles “the verbal mnemonic pattern used for tuning various instruments” (Kubik 1985:38, emphasis in original) among the Zande  More than eighty years after Farmer commented on the “persistence of this primitive method [of tuning rings] in spite of the existence of the peg system” (1928:26 [fn.1]), the Gnawa m‘allem-s have begun to adopt the “mechanism” (personal communication, A. Gania, 2009), metal tuning pegs resembling those used for acoustic guitars. Rather than being designed for sacred rituals, the modification was motivated by secular engagements (Chapter 5). 13 Fuson refers to this as the “tsiyyisa [borrowed from Schuyler]: an unmetered improvisation, which is played to indicate that a new song is about to start after a pause or break” (2009:189). He writes that “while it does expose the melodic scale… its primay function appears to be to signal the assembly that the guinbri player is ready to begin” (ibid.:205). 14 These phrases are not unique to M‘allem Mahmoud and heard in other versions of M‘allem Abdallah’s msawi, which suggests they form part of the standard tuning formula, at least as played by the Gania masters. 12  132  people of Central African Republic and “reveal[s] the nature of [an] inner tuning model” (ibid.:45). 15 Significantly, an examination of the tuning formulas by two m‘allem-s suggest the basic point of reference occurs on the open zir, the father string (pitch 1), and ntoi, the child (pitch 8) (Figure 4.6). Pitch 1 or 8 begins and ends the msawi pattern and is consistently reiterated. The other point of reference is the open string of the tahtiya (pitch 4). Kubik writes: “As is the case in numerous other musical cultures of Africa the tuning of the mendzan [xylophone] reflects the idea of a hierarchical order of tones corresponding with a social pattern” (ibid.:32). Similar to Kubik’s assertion, tuning of the guembri embodies a triadic social structure of the father (or m‘allem), his offspring, and the mother (or moqaddema). Furthermore, the zir (father) acts as a subtle drone produced by sympathetic vibrations that can be heard in solo parts of performances and by the thumb consistently and rhythmically “dropping” on it as other pitches are struck, while the ntoi (child) is the lahsor in many pieces—that is, the resting note often heard at the end of a motive (personal communication, A. Gania, 2009) and hence a significant boundary point. The concept of a Gnawa scale also emerges. In tuning the guembri, the m‘allem-s are concerned to adjust the sound produced at five different fretboard positions in a given phrase, thus creating a pentatonic framework comprising pitches 12457(8) (Figure 4.6a, Systems 1 and 2; Figure 4.6b, Systems 1, 3, 7–9) or 12456(8) (Figure 4.6b, Systems 2, 4–6).  After coarse tuning the open strings in “silence” Si Mohammed explained how the guembri was tuned by humming pitched mnemonics aloud (personal communication, 2009). Similarly, Kubik writes that the “Zande harp player… tunes his harp while singing a tuning formula and simultaneously sounding the five strings to each syllable… split up melodically in a sequence…‘I am thinking like playing. I hear the tune’” (1985:38–39). 15  133  8 4 1…  1  (2 4) 4…  5 (7 8) 7 5 (4 2) 4 4 7 5 [4 2 1] 2 2 [4 1 2] 1 [7 7 7] 8  (2 5) 8 …  (7 8) 7 5  (4 2) 2 [2 1 7] 1 8  1 8 1…  1  1 4 8 4 8 4 8…  a)  (1 4) 1 1 (1 4)1  5 8…  (7 8)7 5(4 4)4 4 5(78)75 (4 4)4 2 2 2 1[7 7 7] 8  4 8 4 8 [2 2 4] 4 4 4 4 5 (6 8)[6 5 4] 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1  2 (4 4) (5 5) (7 8) 7 (5 5) (4 4) (2 2) [2 1 7] [7 7 7] 8 8  [1 1 2] (5 5) (6 8) 6 5 [6 5 4] 8 4 8 4 8 4 8  2 5 8…  5 8 [6 5 4] 1 4 1 (5 5)[5 4 2] 4 4 (5 5) (6 8)[6 5 4](5 5)[5 4 2] 4 4 (5 5)  (6 8)[6 5 4] 1 (5 5)[5 4 2] (4 4)[4 2 1] 2 2 2 1 [7 7 7] 8 8  4 1 1 2 5 2 4  1 1 2 5 2 4 1 2 5 2 4 1 1 7 8  1 2 5 (8 8) (7 8) 7 5 1 1 2 5 2 4 2 4 1 4 1 4 1 4 1  1 2 5(88)[88](78)75 1 1 2 5 2 4 2 4 1 1 2 5 2 4 2 4 1 2 5 2 4 2 4 1 2 5 2 4 2 4 1 [7 7 7]88  b) Figure 4.6 Msawi played by a) M‘allem Abdallah (Audio 4.1), and b) M‘allem Mahmoud (Audio 4.2, half a step higher than notation). Pitches (in cipher notation) placed in brackets signify a shorter time span between notes. Like shaded boxes represent same pitches or similar melodic phrases. 134  4.2.3 Scale  Despite having a range of eight identifiable pitches, Gnawa melodies are basically pentatonic; however, a sixth tone arises in special situations (Section 4.4). “Ghumami,” a piece that belongs to the Mimun suite analyzed in Chapter 7, serves as an example (Figure 4.7). In M‘allem Abdallah’s 2007 performance, the piece was played with the tuning C2#, D2#↓, F2#, G2#, (A2↓), B2↑, and C3# (Row 2); in 2006, it was D2, E2↓, G2, A2, (B2↓), C3, and D3 (Row 3), both of which are equivalent to pitches 1, 2, 4, 5, (6), 7, and 8, respectively. Pitch 6 in parentheses, notated as A2↓ and B2↓, represents the “extra” pitch. The relative tuning of pitches suggests that adopting cipher notation is warranted for comparative analyses. In this way the relationship between pitches, rather than the actual value of individual pitches, is highlighted. As shown in Figure 4.8, the fifth note in pentatonic pieces may either be pitch 7 or pitch 6 (Rows 3–5).16 While most melodies of the repertoire are pentatonic, some pieces are tetratonic, hexatonic, or heptatonic. Pieces from the ‘Aisha suite serve as examples (Figure 4.8, Rows 6 and 7). Two of the pieces comprise only four tones; pitches 2, 3 and 7 are excluded and pitch 6 (instead of the usual pitch 7) plays a structural role in the motive (Row 6). With the addition of two “new” ‘Aisha pieces from the Hamadsha brotherhood a seventh note (pitch 3) and the heptatonic scale entered the Gnawa musical syntax (Row 7) from cross-cultural borrowing.17  Fuson suggests that Gnawa music has two basic scales: the “D-scale” and “G-scale” (2009:161). The former uses pitch 7, and the latter pitch 6. 17 Fuson writes: “According to a m‘allem in Rabat, it was introduced into the Gnawa repertoire not earlier than the 1970’s. The songs of the suite are taken from the repertoire of the Hamadsha brotherhood and feature musical structures alien to the Gnawa repertoire, such as heptatonic melodic modes and 5/4 meter” (2009:117) (see Section 3.4.1). Although the Gania family spoke to me of the 16  135  Cipher Equivalent Sidi Mimun Pitches (AG 2007) Sidi Mimun Pitches (AG 2006)  1  2  C2# D2  [3]  4  5  (6)  7  8  D2#↓  F2#  G2#  (A2↓) B2↑  C3#  E2↓  G2  A2  (B2↓) C3  D3  Figure 4.7 Ghumami pitch set in two performances by M‘allem Abdallah.  Cipher Notation  1  2  [3]  4  5  (6)  7  8  Pitch  C2#  D2#↓  [E2]  F2#  G2#  (A2↓)  B2↑  C3#  Pentatonic (e.g., Mimun1-3, 5) Pentatonic (e.g., Mimun 4) Pentatonic (e.g., Mimun 6) Tetratonic (“original” ‘Aisha) Heptatonic (“new” ‘Aisha)  Figure 4.8 The Gnawa scale (shaded block illustrates the pitch set of respective pieces).  According to Kubik, “Innovations or changes in the tone system at the level of a culture as a whole only occur at the pace of generations. In Africa, as probably elsewhere, it is youths and children who pick up a new tone system (often of foreign introduction)  Mekkawi origins of Aisha Hamdushiya and its use among the Hamadsha, it is uncertain when these pieces became a regular part of the Gnawa repertoire. M‘allem Abdallah (in his fifties) remembers the ‘Aisha pieces always being a part of lila-s. The Gnawa repertoire comprises “traditional” pieces dedicated to ʻAisha, two of which are referred to as “‘Aisha Qandisha,” and the other “Lalla ‘Aisha” (cf. Fuson below); and more recently pieces for ‘Aisha Hamdushiya associated from the region of Meknes, and the Hamadsha brotherhood (personal communication, A. Gania, 2009). Besides Lalla ‘Aisha, this collection of pieces has now become an independent suite. Fuson writes: “It was my understanding that before the Hamdushiya suite was introduced into Gnawa practice in Marrakesh, the tagnawit song dedicated to Lalla ‘Aisha (also known as ‘Aisha Qandisha) fell at the beginning or end of the L‘Ayalet suite” (2009:117). Although Pâques similarly writes that if she is invoked it happens before the L‘Ayalet, she asserts that “for the majority of Gnawa, ‘Aisha Qandisha does not have a place in a derdeba” (1991:310). In Chlyeh, Aisha Qandisha is invoked after the female spirits (1999:102). The Gania masters usually perform the ‘Aisha suite separately while Lalla ‘Aisha (of the sea) is grouped with mhalla L‘Ayalet. 136  relatively quickly and then carry it on as a novel tradition” (1985:46). Interestingly, however, over half a century (or more) later pitch 3 (or “E2”) is absent from the inner tuning model of the Gnawa (see Figure 4.6).  4.3 Time I: General Features  Time organization in Gnawa music may be conceived using terms such as minimal value, pulsation, pulse, tactus, group(ing), cycle, and periodicity, already employed by a