The house of Monet in Giverny. The word picturesque is not enough to express this grandeur of nature’s colours, not to mention the water lily garden. What was surprising was his vast collection of Japanese prints, adorning the wall sod almost every room in his house.
A thousand year-old souk, colorful cones of spices, pattern on plates, tan pots…
Morocco has been on the top of my bucket list for a long time. Last month, I finally made it there and the experience exceeded my expectation.
The Moroccan interior was stunning, and the traditional craftsmanship was refined and detailed. So many colors-food, patterns on the walls, and lights. Bath houses and Argan oils, scents of Frankincense…
Although the bargaining at the markets were a bit tough, I felt as if that has been the way of survival in the harsh desert conditions and ethnic diversities of this amusing country.
The main reason for visiting Morocco this time was year was to experience the festival of the traditional music of Northern Africa and Morocco; Gnaoua. Formed of voice and three instruments―percussion made of Goat’s skin Tbel, three-string guitar Guembri, and metal castanets Qarqaba―Gnaoua music has been an important part of rituals as one of the oldest trance music.
Arriving at the seaside town of Essaouira where this annual festival was held, the streets were filled with local backpackers and a few Westerners with dread-locks. What made the atmosphere so different from all the other festivals I’ve been to was that because of the Islamic culture, were no alcohol, and couples were rarely seen except families. People were there simply to immerse themselves in music.
I heard a song in the Marrakech riad that caught my attention, and found out the singer was performing at this festival the next day. Luckily we had a chance to see her, a Moroccan singer-songwriter who became successful in France, Hindi Zahra. The venue was the rooftop of a small colosseum, adorned with colorful carpets and ottomans. I thought it would be a soft acoustic set, but the band’s groove progressed from Reggae to Gnaoua beats, joined by the Sahara dancers and the singer herself dancing passionately in the middle of the stage. I felt her loyalty and passion for her roots as a Moroccan throughout the set.
More traditional performances were seen on the main stage at the entrance of the town. dozens of men were synchronizing with their qarqaba beats, syncopated or in a fast 3/4, heads spinning with their decorative hats, voice of call and response with the audience. I could see the connections with the 70’s rock musicians like Jimi Hendricks and Zeppelin.
Jam sessions were held in instruments shop, and even when a little Japanese came in they let me play the Guembri, and the session seemed to go on for hours.
Everything about this has remained the same for thousands of years, when there were no copyrights nor billboard charts, a natural part of their lives like conversation and eating.
what I discovered through this trip was that music that I see today is far from the core, only small labels that’s been attached with fickle concepts.
Let’s be honest, I write songs for my own fame, I rack my brain to come up with ideas on how to increase numbers of plays and social media activites…music as a business is ultimately the same as selling something like air, and we are all manipulated by this fabricated concept that music’s value is in a petty thing such as money.
What I saw after taking those small labels covering the core of music off, was the blessing of music; how it allows us to share time.
In the midst of the Moroccan breeze, I was able to re-discover this simple philosophy of music.