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Popular Culture and the Performing Arts

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From: Morocco: Body and Soul

© 1989, Used with permission of First Run/Icarus Films

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In this 1989 film by Izza Genini, the late El Haj Houcine Toulali from Meknes, Morocco, talks about the Malhoun tradition of traditional popular music and performs with his orchestra. This form of music is sung in a higher register of colloquial Morroccan Arabic and sometimes in classical Arabic. It is one of Morocco’s oldest musical traditions. The orchestra is ordinarily composed only of percussion and string instruments, but it is the lyrics, often long and rigourously literary poems which are, by far, the most important aspect of the genre. In fact, Malhoun music is essentially poems, called qasidahs set to music.

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