Philips 78562

As promised, here’s another great 78 from Morocco. Al-aita is the music of the urban and rural poor and is found generally in central Morocco. This recording is typical of the style, driven by raspy fiddle played upright on the knee, drums such as ta’rija and darbuka, and the call and response of the Cheikhates, the female singers that front the group. As with female performers elsewhere in North Africa, such as the cheikhat of Algerian rai, the cheikhates in Morocco suffer shame and are regarded as outcasts due to their transgression of social and religious roles. This record was released on Philips around 1950.



I’ll soon be posting some news about a forthcoming LP project I put together for Dust-to-Digital called “Kassidat: Raw 45s from Morocco.” In the meantime, to prime the pump and grease the wheels, I figured I’d do a post or two of Moroccan 78s. Morocco has an interesting diversity of folk music styles, most of which tend toward trance-inducing, hypnotic grooves. There’s the rwais (itinerant musical troupes from the Marrakech area), the female led ‘aita troupes of the central region, the Sufi village ensembles, the music of the Gnawa, Chaabi, and more. The gunbri is a lute that comes in several forms and is used in several of these genres throughout Morocco. The Gnawa are well-known for their large bass gunbri, while the rwais use a smaller, more banjo-like gunbri, sometimes called lotar. A third variety is used in central Morocco and the Rif mountains. It has a distinctive pear-shaped body, and is carved from a single block of wood. It’s often paired with the bendir, as in this recording, by the famous comedic duo of Kachbal and Zaroual. Moroccan music was widely recorded during the early 20th century, but this type of gunbri seems to have been rarely recorded during the 78 rpm era. It wasn’t until local record companies began to prosper after the country gained independence, in 1956, that many 45s of this type were released. In fact, Orikaphone was one of the first of these local Moroccan labels and this record was released on 45, as well as the 78 shown here.



Turkey is well-known for its classical art music developed during the Ottoman Empire. It’s impossible to deny the genius of classical musicians like Tanbûrî Cemil Bey, but I’ve always gravitated toward folk music. In Anatolia, the most popular folk instrument is certainly the bağlama, sometimes called saz (and not to be confused with the tiny Greek baglamas). The bağlama belongs to a family of string instruments used throughout the region; Syria, Kurdistan, Persia, and elsewhere. The instrument comes in many sizes, from the small cura to the enormous divan sazi. The instrument has seven strings, dived into 3 courses, the two highest courses have 2 strings, while the lowest course has 3. The tuning varies depending on the mode of the song, with the open strings acting as drones to emphasize the different characteristics of the mode.
Mucip Arciman was a folk musician from central Anatolia who became popular in the 1940s and ’50s.