Musical Performance: Berber Music of Morocco and the Middle Atlas

Sat, October 25, 2008 9:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all musical performances »)


Abdel Rahim Boutat - Loutar


Ahmed Sahel - Bandir
Adel Bror - Bandir

doors open at 8:30 P.M.
$20/$15 students with I.D.


The Atlas Mountains (Arabic: جبال الأطلس ) are a series of mountain peaks that run along the northwestern portion of the African continent, extending through modern day Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The terrain of the Atlas Mountain range is particularly difficult to cross due to its extremely high peaks, reaching a towering 4,167 meters (13,671 ft) at its high point, Jbel Toubkal, in southwestern Morocco.

The Berber people are the original inhabitants of the Middle Atlas region: their language, Tamazight, and their music, are distinct from that of the Arabs and of the Gnawa. Music is an integral part the extensive history of Berber culture in North Africa. Berber music is noted for its use of folk oral traditions, as well as particular scales and rhythmic patterns, which include pentatonic music and African rhythms. The music is kept alive by traveling musicians who perform at weddings and other ceremonial and social events. The loutar, a four-stringed skin-faced lute, is among the diverse instrumentation found in Berber music, which also includes bagpipes, oboe and bandir (wooden frame drum).

The music of the Middle Atlas can be divided into four genres: izlan, tmawayt, tameryazt and ahidus. Izlan are mostly love songs that are interpreted by musicians known as chioukh, who play the loutar, accompanied by female singers. Tamawayt is a highly emotional cry or chant emitted in a loud voice - usually a cry of love. Tameryazt is the name given to a type of sung poetry often dealing with topical events. Ahidus is the generic name given to the music and dances that accompany collective celebrations.

This concert will draw from the diverse repertoire of the Berber tradition, culminating in a unique performance of the ahidus dance by the musicians.


Abdel Rahim Boutat

A Moroccan Berber from the town of Khenifra in the Middle Atlas Mountains, Boutat began playing the loutar as young boy in middle school, at local social events and weddings in Morocco before migrating to Canada, and later settling in New York. He has played in concerts presented by prestigious cultural organizations such as Le Festival du Monde Arabe de Montréal and World Music Institute, and the Brooklyn Maqam Arab Music festival.

Last updated: 2008-10-24 20:19:03

Berber musicians
Berber musicians

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