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Dance Heritage Coalition

Languages and Dialects Table of Contents BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Moroccan Music Collection (Bowles, Paul, collector)



The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection consists of audio recordings, photographs, and accompanying documentation that focus primarily on one recording project. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and sponsorship from the Library of Congress, Paul Bowles spent the months of August to September of 1959 traveling throughout Morocco recording approximately 60 hours of traditional folk, art, and popular music. Bowles collected in 23 villages, towns, and cities along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, from Goulimine in the Sahara to Segangan in the Rif country, and inland through the Middle and Grand Atlas ranges to Zagora in the Anti-Atlas. Due to the political situation at the time, Bowles was not able to record in the southeastern region. In 1963, the Library acquired five additional recordings of Moroccan music made by Bowles in 1960-62. In 1972, the Library issued a two-record set of selections from the collection. A nine-page descriptive booklet accompanies the set.

The heterogenous recordings reflect the variety of Moroccan culture. From urban professionals and religious singers to rural and nomadic tribespeople, the musicians performed vocal and instrumental music. The collection includes dance music, secular music, music for Ramadan and other Islamic rites, and music for animistic rituals. Berber and Arab music predominates, and a considerable variety of styles emerges from the survey of different areas and tribes. Some selections exhibit traces of the antique Andalusian style, reflecting Morocco's historic relationship to Spain. Musical examples originally derived from Mauritania, West Africa>, and the Sudan demonstrate the influence of migrations and cultural interchanges across the Sahara and along the Atlantic coast. In addition, there are examples of Sephardic liturgical music and other folksongs from the historic Jewish communities in Essaouira and Meknes. Several recordings feature the rare zamar, a double-reed instrument fitted with two mouthpieces and two bulls' horn resonators.

Dance often was integral to the music events; as Bowles pointed out, usually "music and dance are one thing" to the peoples of Morocco, especially the Berber tribes. In the field notes on the music, Bowles often alluded to the concurrent dancing and sometimes gave movement description. He recorded, among other things, music that accompanied the guedra dance from the village of Goulimine, ahouache (music and dance events) of the Anti-AAtlas and Grand Atlas, the aqlal (dance ceremony) in the Draa Valley, Pre-Sahara, and the squel (sword dance) of the Draaoua people of Zagora, Moroccan Sahara. The appendix lists the field notes of recordings where dance was specifically described or alluded to in Bowles' notes or in the LP recording booklet.

The manuscripts (correspondence and field notes) describe not only the content of the recording project, but also the bureaucratic, political, and cultural context of conducting ethnographic fieldwork in the late 1950s. They highlight the cultural and political situation in the newly-independent Morocco as well as the customs of different cultural groups. The correspondence between Bowles and LC staff during the project offers additional insight into the circumstances and content of the recordings, while the photographs of several performance events provide visual documentation that supplements those recordings.

Languages and Dialects Table of Contents BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH