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Music of North Africa

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Music of North Africa

North Africa has contributed much to popular music, especially Egyptian classical and el Gil, Algerian raï and Moroccan chaabi. The broad region is sometimes called the Maghreb (excluding Egypt), and the term Maghrebian music is in use. For a variety of reasons, Tunisia and Libya do not have as extensive a popular tradition as their neighbors on both sides. Folk music, however, abounds, despite frequent condemnation and suppression from governments, and exists in multiple forms across the region—the Berbers, Sephardic Jews, Tuaregs and Nubians, for example, retain musical traditions with ancient roots.

Andalusian music is especially influential, and is played in widely varying forms across the region. This music was imported from Andalusia in the 15th century, after Spain expelled the Moors from that province. The Spanish conquest of the historically Muslim Iberian peninsula had been going on for some time, and had the result of moving a large number of Iberian Muslims, who were themselves descended from people from across the Mediterranean, into North Africa. These people brought with them a vibrant tradition that had arisen as a fusion of various kinds of Muslim music from Baghdad, Istanbul, Egypt and elsewhere. The most well-known derivatives of this style are al-âla in Morocco, nuubaat and related styles in Algeria and malouf in Tunisia.

Traditions

Most common instruments used in traditional North African music

Algeria

Out of all the North African countries, Algerian popular music may be best-known abroad. Raï, a style of urban popular music developed in early 20th century Oran, has been famous in Europe, especially France (which has a large Algerian population) since the late 1980s. The music of the Berber Kabyle people and chaabi are both also renowned throughout the country, and in France.

Descended from music imported from Andalusia in the 15th century, Algerian nuubaat is a kind of classical music that remains popular in much of the country. Over the years, it has evolved into related styles like rabaab and hawzii.

Egypt

Egypt's best-known popular tradition is the classical Egyptian music of stars like Abdel Halim Hafez. Other prominent modern styles include Shaabi, el Gil, and other Egyptian pop.

Libya

Libyan music, like the music of other North African countries, consists of both local and foreign elements. The factors important to the development of music in Libya are: indigenous North African music, Arabic music theory, language and culture, and Ottoman Turkish music. Because of these factors, Libya's musical heritage can be further divided into four types: 1. Ceremonial music that is associated with the culture and customs of the Sufi-Turugs. 2. Classical vocal music that belongs to the traditional Arab music of Al-Andalus (Muslim Spain, 730-1494 Ad.), and includes Al-muash'shahat and Al-maluf. 3. Classical instrumental music, which evolved from the Arab art-music heritage and was inspired by Turkish elements. 4. Libyan folk music, which also features Central African and Arab musical influences styles.

Tunisia

Tunisia is best known as the center for malouf, a derivative of the Andalusian music imported to North Africa in the 15th century. Since the 1930s, a number of organizations (as well as the first President of Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba) have been promoting malouf as an integral aspect of Tunisian culture, helping to keep the ancient tradition alive.

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