Music, Dance and Drama

Moroccan music is of many types; it includes Arab, Berber, classical, and Popular elements. Musicians perform in concerts, in cafes, at private homes, at circumcision ceremonies, marriages, funerals, and religious processions and in accompaniment to dancing and storytelling.

Classical music in the moroccan sense is the Andalusian music of the tenth to fifteenth centuries. lt is extremely complicated in musical structure, and its lyrics are characterized by the strict use of the Andalusian dialect or classical Arabic and by the construction of verse in the style of classical poetry. It is played by an orchestra composed of the "TAR ", a form of tambourine; sometimes the "Darbuqa ", a funnel-shaped drum made of clay; and three types of stringed instruments - the rebab, played by the leader and considered the most important; the "Kemanjah", now supplanted in most instances by the European violin; the "Oudh", a lute.

Andalusian music is given regular performances by several orchestras, among them the National Broadcast Orchestra and the concert orchestras of Fes, Marrakech, and Casablanca. Since independence the Association of Andalusian Music in Casablanca has attempted to preserve examples of this music, collecting and writing down the melodies and words, which have been transmitted largely by ear.

Moroccan Arab popular music, "Griha ", is musically similar to, but simpler than, the classical music and uses the popular, rather than the classical language. New songs are composed in this genre; they usually concern love, war, and adventure and often include topical satire. This type of music has also been adapted by some of the brotherhoods for religious chants.

Berber music, even more closely linked to poetry than Arab music, is usually associated Wit/l the dance and varies considerably according to region. Percussion instruments, drums and tambourines provide the rhythm, while the melody is played on a f lute or a single- stringed "rehab ".

Dances are common, particularly in the countryside, at homes of ceremonies, such as harvest festivals, marriage festivities, and religious celebrations. Traditional dances, Berber in origin, have survived in various local and regional forms on the various Arab-and Berberspeaking areas. Most public performances are accompanied by music and attended by most of the community or neighborhood.

Drama, not a traditional form of artistic expression in Islamic countries, was introduced in Morocco during the protectorate. The performances of French theatrical companies on tour in Morocco were patronized by members of the European community and European- educated Moroccans. During the 1950s amateur groups in the major cities, notably Casablanca, performed plays in Arabic and some plays translated from French. The playwrights and actors included students, teachers, and low-level government staff whose efforts were limited by lack of experience and resources. Many of the plays dealt with the conflict between traditionalist parents and modern youth; others were replete with melodramatic plight. The audience included a wide range of social groups, from the middle class to illiterate rural migrants, but because of problems of unintelligibility owing to language and overcomplicated plots, together with poor staging techniques, the presentations had limited success.

After independence in 1956, the Moroccan National Theater was established, and the Moroccan Dramatic Research Center was opened in Rabat under government auspices. Young people interested in the theater were trained as actors, directors, and technicians at the dramatic art in Rabat, as well as in Paris. They produced plays in French and Arabic- the former are usually examples of classical European drama, the latter are concerned with social mores and political themes of the day.