Monday, 23 May 2011

Nights on the Place of Dead Roads

"The most important single element of Morocco's folk culture is its music...the entire history and mythology of the people is clothed in song"
Paul Bowles Their Heads Are Green and Their Hands are Blue
In March this year I spent five perfect days in Marrakech. I had flown into the city full of grand plans - I was to go record hunting in Casablanca, I would catch a bus up the Ourika Valley and spend two days walking in the mountains. Of course I did neither of these things - the chaos and excitement of life in the medina sucked me in and wouldn't let go. I spent my days wandering the narrow streets making a mental map of the labyrinth at the heart of the ancient city. Each night as darkness fell I would wander from my hotel to the Djemaa El Fna - the Assembly of the Dead - to lose myself in the crowds at this unique, permanent festival.

Over the four nights I spent wandering from halqah to halqah I was treated to some incredible music and performances, and what really struck me on this visit was how communal and participatory the performances are. The crowds which gather around the musicians show their appreciation for a good rendition by singing along. The resulting sounds can be electrifying.

Follow the link below and you'll find 50 something minutes of recordings from the square made between March 3rd and March 7th this year. In posting these recordings, my thoughts go out to all those affected by the bomb that went off in the Cafe Argana on Aprl 28th, and to the thousands of Moroccans who attended the pro peace and pro democracy marches over the following weekends.

Nights on the Place of Dead Roads


bbroke said...

Thanks for sharing this recording! I've been there a couple of years ago and this makes up for some nice flashbacks! I also recommend having a listen to "Ecstatic Music Of The Jemaa El Fna" on Sublime Frequencies, see

Mr Tear said...

The Sublime Frequencies album is a real beauty.

Anonymous said...


icastico said...

Appreciate the thoughts and the music.

Tim Abdellah said...

Fantastic! Thanks for sharing this audio stroll thru the plaza.

Mr Tear said...

Thanks chaps,
hope you enjoy the recordings. I've really struggled over the past month wondering whether to post them, hence the lack of blog entries. Should be back to normal now though.

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