The Gnawa Lions
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Traditionally gnawa musicians in Morocco played for all-night ceremonies where communities gathered to invite spirits to heal mental, physical, and social ills untreatable by other means. Now gnawa music can be heard on the streets of Marrakech, at festivals in Essaouira, in Fez's cafes, in Casablanca's nightclubs, and in the bars of Rabat. As it moves further and further from its origins as ritual music and listeners seek new opportunities to hear performances, musicians are challenged to adapt to new tastes while competing for potential clients and performance engagements. Christopher Witulski explores how gnawa musicians straddle popular and ritual boundaries to assert, negotiate, and perform their authenticity in this rich ethnography of Moroccan music. Witulski introduces readers to gnawa performers, their friends, the places where they play, and the people they play for. He emphasizes the specific strategies performers use to define themselves and their multiple identities as Muslims, Moroccans, and traditional musicians. The Gnawa Lions reveals a shifting terrain of music, ritual, and belief that follows the negotiation of musical authenticity, popular demand, and economic opportunity.


Notes on transliteration and transcription

Chapter 1: One Minute in Meknes

Chapter 2: Defending Ritual Authority

Chapter 3: African Routes and Sufi Roots

Chapter 4: Making a Living as a Contemporary Ritual Musician

Chapter 5: New Opportunities

Chapter 6: Light Rhythms and Heavy Spirits

Chapter 7: Fighting New Demands

Chapter 8: Heritage and Hybridity

Chapter 9: New Authorities and Authenticities





Publié par
Date de parution 06 août 2018
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780253036766
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0500€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Paul A. Silverstein, Susan Slyomovics, and Ted Swedenburg, editors

This book is a publication of
Indiana University Press
Office of Scholarly Publishing
Herman B Wells Library 350
1320 East 10th Street
Bloomington, Indiana 47405 USA
2018 by Christopher Witulski
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Information Sciences-Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials, ANSI Z39.48-1992.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress.
ISBN 978-0-253-03679-7 (cloth)
ISBN 978-0-253-03675-9 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-253-03678-0 (ebook)
1 2 3 4 5 23 22 21 20 19 18
Notes on Transliteration and Transcription
1 One Minute in Meknes
2 Defending Ritual Authority
3 African Routes and Sufi Roots
4 Making a Living as a Contemporary Ritual Musician
5 New Opportunities
6 Light Rhythms and Heavy Spirits
7 Fighting New Demands
8 Heritage and Hybridity
9 New Authorities and Authenticities
I T WOULD BE impossible to recognize all who shared in the process of bringing this project to fruition, and for those who are not listed here-especially the innumerable people who welcomed me to Fez and into their homes time and time again-may God repay you and your families.
I owe a debt of gratitude to colleagues and friends in Florida, New York, Ohio, and Morocco whose insights strengthen the pages that follow, including Roger Anderson, Russell Brown, Hicham Chami, Daanish Faruqi, Jack Forbes, Tyler Graham, Sarah Hirsh, Jessica Lambert, Philip Murphy, Josh Neumann, Kendra Salois, and Matthew Schumann. The hours spent conversing over drinks, sipping mint tea, in conference hallways, and over email were invaluable. I want to thank Larry Crook for his mentorship, guidance, and detailed readings of these chapters as they developed. To those who took valuable time to read and respond to this document in its entirety or in part, I am appreciative, especially to Ellen Koskoff, Fiona McLaughlin, Phillip Naylor, Andi Ongoiba, Alexander Smith Reed, Philip Schuyler, Jonathan Stock, Welson Tremura, and the anonymous peer reviewers who responded to different versions of sections of this work. A previous version of chapter 4 appeared in The Journal for North African Studies (Witulski 2016a) and a version of chapter 6 appeared in Ethnomusicology Forum (Witulski 2016b), both available at . A version of chapter 7 appeared in Ethnomusicology (Witulski 2018).
Paul A. Silverstein, Susan Slyomovics, and Ted Swedenburg, the editors for Indiana University Press s Public Cultures of the Middle East and North Africa series, provided the inspiration for this project that helped me to undertake the process of turning it into a book. Dee Mortensen s generous direction, Julia Turner s and Mary Jo Rhodes s editing, and the thoughtful responses from the anonymous manuscript reviewers were transformative in connecting disparate thoughts into a cohesive whole. Of course, even with the help of these individuals, mistakes will make their way into this work. Any such errors are solely my own.
I would have never made it through this project had it not been for the support of others. Jill Sonke, Jennifer Lee, and Chuck Levy led me in inspired new directions both within and outside of this research. My colleagues at Bowling Green State University and Florida State University gave me encouragement as I worked through the writing process while also providing opportunities for me to learn new skills as an educator, musician, and researcher. The project resulted from the generous financial support of many, including the Fulbright Student Grant Program and the Moroccan-American Commission for Educational and Cultural Exchange s wonderful staff, led by Jim Miller; the University of Florida s School of Music, Center for African Studies, and Alumni Fellowship Program; and the Department of Education s Foreign Language and Area Studies program.
There were many who worked closely and patiently with me throughout my time in Morocco. They deserve special recognition for answering my constant questions, even the most banal. They include M allem Abd al-Rzaq; M allem Aziz wuld Ba Blan; Abd al-Rahim Amrani and the members of his ensemble; Mohammed Sousi, his son Yusef, and the members of his ensemble; Fredric Calmus; Yassine Boudouaia and the members of his ensemble; Ahmed Shiki and his son Abd al-Salam; Ahmed Aydoun; Fatima Zahra and the staff at Subul al-Salam; Majid Bekkas; M allem Abd al-Qadr of Rabat; Hamid al-Qasri; M allem Abd al-Latif Makhzumi; Mulay al-Tahir; Adil Walili; Omar Chennafi; and so many others. To Mohammed Boujma and his family, Abd al-Hafez and his family, Sandy McCutcheon and Suzanna Clark, and to my friends and neighbors in Fez, thank you for opening your homes and lives to me.
Madeleine, Julia, and Elise, you have given me so much joy and support, even if only through hugs, smiles, and sweet cooing. Finally, I want to thank my wife Jessica: your love is a gift from God.
Notes on Transliteration and Transcription
S YSTEMS OF TRANSLATION repeatedly fail to maintain the nuanced complexity of what they portray. I make use of two such systems here: the transliteration of Moroccan Arabic and the transcription of musical sounds. While both are flawed, I aim for simplicity by adapting the transliteration system of the International Journal of Middle East Studies and, for musical transcriptions, closely approximating the performances from my fieldwork recordings and other sources in musical notation. I omit all diacritical markings in proper names, but otherwise use for ayn ( ) and for hamza ( ) throughout the text. In the case of common English words or place names, I use those in place of a strict transliteration. In this way, I prioritize readability at the expense of some consistency. For example, the city is Fez, but its residents are fassi . Similarly, musical notation is meant to provide a rough outline of the sounds I describe. Rhythms and pitches are notoriously difficult to precisely reproduce in writing, and those moments of uncertainty are where many of the most interesting things happen.
Map 0.1. Map of Morocco and the Western Sahara with major cities. Daniel Dalet, lang=en .

1 One Minute in Meknes
L ESS THAN A week after arriving in Fez in November 2010, I made sure to visit Abd al-Rahim Abd al-Rzaq, a gnawa ritual leader with whom I had worked during my previous two summers. His joviality shone through as I sat down in front of his office in the Blida neighborhood of Fez s walled medina, the old city. The smell of the nearby leather tanners wafted through the courtyard where he was sewing gnawa paraphernalia and meeting with prospective clients. The noisy setting made it difficult to converse, something that I had grown used to. His day job was as a guardian for the funduq, a collection of workshops and storage spaces where laborers pounded away at brass plates and teapots, making piles of new goods to be sold in the nearby tourist markets. Abd al-Rzaq was surprised and happy to see me. He immediately stood up and handed me a piece of thick cardboard to sit on so that I would not have to be on the stone floor. After the onslaught of introductions that opens so many conversations in Morocco, he invited me to a gnawa ashiyya in nearby Meknes. An ashiyya, like a lila, is a healing ceremony animated by the music of the gnawa tradition. Unlike the lila, which extends from the night into the next morning, an ashiyya begins earlier in the evening and concludes soon after midnight. It is shorter and, therefore, costs the hosts less for the musicians, any space rental, and food preparation for guests. We made the appropriate plans, and I quickly became excited about an auspicious start to this fieldwork visit.
The event took place in a second-floor apartment in a poor neighborhood between Meknes s medina and the ville nouvelle. After a delicious chicken couscous meal provided by the hosts and shared by the musicians, we descended to the street for the opening procession, called the ada. Accompanied by a pair of large drums (tbal) and four or five sets of iron castanets (qaraqib), Abd al-Rzaq s brother Hamid, serving as the leader of this event, the m allem, lit incense, wrapping the hosts and a young woman in aromatic smoke. As she fell into and out of a trance on the dirt road, the sound of the music and singing attracted a large crowd that, eventually, encircled the central participants. After an extended procession and blessings of the instruments, flags, candles, people, and sacrificial animals to be used later in the evening, the large group of musicians, participants, and spectators made their way through the small door, up the steep, tight staircase, and back into the apartment. The musicians then began performing, inviting the spirits of the gnawa pantheon to join in the event and calling for blessings from Allah and prayers from the Prophet Muhammad. Incense and sound together thickened the air, making it heavy with odor and vibrant with motion.
Over the past two generations, gnawa music moved from an existence that primarily served enclosed rituals to one that engages new contexts across Mo

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