Traditional Music of Morocco Series (Episode 1 of 7): Reggada
By: Claire Boyle / Arab America Contributing Writer
The country of Morocco is one of many cultures, beautiful architecture, amazing cities, and it also has its own unique musical and dance genres that are borne out of numerous traditions. These traditions stem from many influences including the cultures of the Amazigh, Arabs, Berbers, Gnawa, Islamic syncretism, Sufism, and Europeans, and so many more. Morocco has the world-famous traditions of Chaabi/Fusion, Gnawa music, Arab-Andalusian Classical, and so many other genres. This seven-part series will explore the cultural, geographic, and historical backgrounds of these amazing genres and readers will get to experience some samples of each musical style as well.
In this first installment, we will be traveling to a Berber village to experience the stirring sounds and enthralling dance routines of Reggada which has been made famous by the Amazigh people of Morocco.
The amazing music and dance form of Reggada hails from two villages in Morocco of which are Ain Erreggada and Tala-n-Areggada. The musical style also has its origins in the province of Berkane which is shown in the picture above. Reggada is known to have its beginnings in the northeastern region of Morocco, and the two largest cities close by are Al Hoceima and Taza.
Historical and Cultural Origins of Reggada:
The musical and dance style of Reggada has very interesting origins, especially how these traditions relate to the culture and history of the Amazigh people. The Amazigh are a Berber tribe who are native to most countries in North Africa, but they are also located in West Africa as well.
The interesting piece about Reggada in both its musical and dance formats is that its origins lie in the “ancient war dance of Amazigh fighters.” This notion is further stated in that the purpose of Reggada as a dance is to “celebrate and simulate victory over an enemy.” The important thing to remember is that Reggada in traditional Moroccan culture is both a dance and a style of music, and those origins cannot be separated from one another as they are synonymous with each other.
Reggada as a Musical and Dance Style:
So, perhaps you are wondering, “what instruments are required to play Reggada,” and also, “how is this intriguing dance performed?” Well, if that is the case, it is time to answer those questions before we can eventually see and hear some samples of this fascinating cultural production of Reggada which is originally from Morocco.
The goal and purpose of dancing Reggada are to simulate the victory over an enemy or opponent, and the dancers are led by “masters who are called ‘sheikhs’, which in Arabic means ‘Arab chiefs’ who play music with Moroccan and other North African traditional instruments while the rest of the dancers move their shoulders, and they also use a stick to strike the ground to the rhythm of the drums.”
The most commonly used instruments in Reggada are the “Zmmar which is a flute made from horns only found in Africa, the Rhaita or Ghaita which is akin to [Scottish] bagpipes, and the Bendri or Bendir.” It is thought that the Bendri/Bendir is of Mesopotamian (modern-day Iraqi) origins. Furthermore, tapping-of-the-feet is another popular percussive instrument in both the music and dance styles found in Reggada.
Finally, Reggada has even grown to become part of the modern music sphere. Why is that? Well, some Reggada musicians in Morocco will now even use a “music synthesizer to create interesting new beats and instrumental sounds.” How exciting?!
Samples of Reggada: A Traditional Music and Dance Style of Morocco:
It is now the time that everyone has been waiting for! Our readers will now be able to experience, see, and hear the rousing sounds of Reggada in some samples given below.
The Musical Style of Reggada (music only):
Dance Routines of Reggada (including music):
Modern Reggada Music (music only):
Reggada is such a beautiful dance and musical style because it is lively, looks very exciting, and its rhythms are rousing. Reggada also has a lot of cultural and geographic history behind it because of its origins in the Amazigh and Berber cultures in Morocco, but also most of North Africa as well. These traditional musical styles elicit feelings of passion, and the reason listeners get these senses is that these sounds and rhythms are the amazing cultural expressions of humanity worldwide. It is the author’s hope that everyone got the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the enthralling style of Reggada, and perhaps, that you were able to tap your feet to the fun and rumbling sounds of traditional Moroccan music and dance!
This is the first episode in a series of seven about some of the traditional music and (oftentimes) dance styles in Morocco. This series explores the cultural, historical, and geographic backgrounds of the musical and dance styles themselves and the group of people who brought these traditions to the forefront in Morocco. Keep an eye out for the next article featuring the intriguing sounds of Gnawa music!
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