The Music of Marrakech and Morocco

Wherever you travel in Morocco you’ll hear music, the basic expression of the country’s folk culture. Traditional Moroccan music is an important part of everyday life, evident at every celebration, and is most often heard at celebrations of births, marriages, funerals, religious gatherings and festivals.

Ancient Berber music can be found in villages of the mountainous regions while in the cities the Arabic tradition is more evident, through instruments and music brought by Arabs from the east and Andalusian Spain.

Since the 1970’s Morocco has spawned indigenous pop (chabbi music), ranging from protest songs to dance music – these are often the sounds you’ll hear throughout Marrakech, in taxis, bus station PA systems and in shops, cafes and restaurants.

Video of musicians in Dejmaa el Fna

Visit any souk and the chances are you’ll find musicians playing. Festivals are best for discovering the wide variety of Moroccan musical styles such as Berber,Gnawa, Jajouka, Chabbi, Griha, Moroccan Rap, Sephardic and Sufi.

Berber Music – Berber culture is stylistically diverse with music ranging from oboe and bagpipes to pentatonic music, all combined with African rhythms, and an important traditional of storytelling.  These ancient musical traditions have been kept alive by small bands of musicians travelling from village to village.

Other Types of Moroccan music

Sufi Music – unique to Islam, this religious music induces a trancelike state inspiring mystical ecstasy.

Gnaoua  - music of the Sufis made popular by The Gnaoua Festival in Essaouira.

Moroccan Chabbi – the rise of Chabbi music has been a major influence on Moroccan popular culture.

Moroccan Rap – closely related to western rap and hip hop culture.

Sephardic Music – Moroccan Jews left a legacy of medieval Spanish ballads when they emigrated to Israel after the second war.

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