Tuesday, January 13, 7682

Arab Invasion of Morocco (682) - Heterophony

Morocco has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean that reaches past the Strait of Gibraltar into the Mediterranean Sea. Morocco has international borders with Algeria to the east, Spain to the north, and Mauritania to the south.

The Arabs invaded Morocco in 682 in the course of their drive to expand the power of Islam. Except for the Jews, the inhabitants of Morocco, both Christian and pagan, soon accepted the religion of their conquerors.

Morocco's music is predominantly Arab, but Andalusian (Medieval Islamic Spanish) and other imported influences have had a major effect on the country's musical character.

Morocco is home to Andalusian classical music that is found throughout North Africa. It probably evolved under the Moors in Cordoba, and the Persian-born musician Ziryab is usually credited with its invention. Ziryab invented the nuba, a suite which forms the basis of al-âla, the primary form of Andalusian classical music today, along with Gharnati and Malhun.

There used to be 24 nuba linked to each hour of the day, but only four nuba have survived in their entirety, and seven in fragmentary form. An entire nuba can last six or seven hours and are divided into five parts called mizan, each with a corresponding rhythm. The rhythms occur in the following order in a complete nuba:

basît (6/4)
qaum wa nusf (8/4)
darj (4/4)
btâyhi (8/4)
quddâm (3/4 or 6/8)

Each mizan begins with instrumental preludes called either tuashia, m'shaliya or bughya, followed by as many as twenty songs (sana'a) in the entire mizan.

Andalusian classical schools are spread across Morocco, having left Spain when the Moors and Jews were driven out of the country (1492). Valencia's school is now in Fez, while Granada's is located in Tetouan and Chefchaouen. Cities like Tangier and Meknes have their own orchestras as well.

Jews in Morocco played an important role in the perpetuation of this oral tradition.

Andalusian classical music uses instruments including oud (lute),

[Folk Rebab and Guinbri]

rabab (fiddle),

darbouka (goblet drums),

taarija (tambourine),

[Qanun, Violin, Oud, and Darbouka]

qanún (zither), and kamenjah (violin).

Morocco - Folk Music

From a historical perspective, folk music has at least two prominant characteristics:

It is transmitted through an oral tradition.

The music is often related to national culture.

Lala Fatima


Heterophony is a type of texture created through the simultaneous variation of a melodic line. This can refer to a kind of complex monophony in which there is only one basic melody, but realized at the same time in multiple voices, each of which play the melody differently, either in a different rhythm or tempo, or with various embellishments and elaborations. The term (originally coined by Plato) was initially introduced into systematic musicology as a subcategory of polyphonic music, though is now regarded as a textural category in its own right.

Heterophony is often a characteristic feature of non-Western traditional musics -- for example Japanese Gagaku, the gamelan music of Indonesia and the traditional music of Thailand. A remarkably vigorous European tradition of dissonant heterophony exists, however, in the form of Outer Hebridean Gaelic Psalmody.

Thai music is nonharmonic, melodic, or linear, and as is the case with all musics of this genre, its fundamental organization is horizontal... Thai music in its horizontal complex is made up of a main melody played simultaneously with variants of it which progress in relatively slower and faster rhythmic units... Individual lines of melody and variants sound in unison or octaves only at specific structural points, and the simultaneity of different pitches does not follow the Western system of organized chord progressions. Between the structural points where the pitches coincide (unison or octaves) each individual line follows the style idiomatic for the instrument playing it. The vertical complex at any given intermediary point follows no set progression; the linear adherence to style regulates. Thus several pitches that often create a highly complex simultaneous structure may occur at any point between the structural pitches.

The music 'breathes' by contracting to one pitch, then expanding to a wide variety of pitches, then contracting again to another structural pitch, and so on throughout. Though these complexes of pitches between structural points may strike the Western listener as arbitrary and inconsequential, the individual lines are highly consequential and logical linearly. The pattern of pitches occurring at these structural points is the basis of the modal aspect of Thai music.

Heterophony is somewhat rare in Western Classical music prior to the 20th Century, but is frequently encountered in the music of composers such as Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky, who were directly influenced by non-Western (and largely heterophonic) music. The texture became a standard technique in the music of the post-war avant garde, in such works as Olivier Messiaen's Sept Haïkaï (1962), Pierre Boulez's Rituel: In Memoriam Bruno Maderna (1975), and Harrison Birtwistle's Pulse Shadows (1996). Benjamin Britten used heterophony in many of his compositions, notably in Three Church Parables: Curlew River, The Burning Fiery Furnace, and The Prodigal Son.

[7700 Rebab / 7682 - Morocco / 7670 Tunisia]