Introduction to the Gnawa Music history
Africa is rich with history and revolution. Over the years, many cultures adopt new rituals and traditions for the sake of the continuation of their culture. Mostly heard throughout Morocco and Algeria, Gnawa music is deeply embedded in history. It is said to have originated in Sub-Saharan Africa, and has migrated over the centuries to these modern locations. This beautiful music is a fusion of African Islamic tradition, pre-Islamic African tradition, and semi-ancient traditional healing rituals.
Gnawas use their hypnotic and entrancing music to evoke their ancestors, heal the wounded, and drive out evil. They also believe that psychological disorders can be cured by their rituals and are considered experts in the healing of scorpion stings. They express themselves with guitar-like instruments called sintirs and multiple lutes, hand clapping, and symbols to invoke the sound required for the healing rituals. The use of colors is also very important, as each color symbolizes an important part of the ritual. Each color, spirit, song, and dance steps represent a specific action that is required, or a specific spirit that can help them with this call to action.
Many modern Western musicians have adopted a love for Gnawa music, and try to incorporate it into their style. Some of the elders in the area consider these to be “profane” influences, and believe that modern Gnawa music is not as traditionally correct today. Gnawas are starting to take influence from hip hop, reggae, and jazz, and fuse them together to form a new and interesting sound. It seems as if the history of Gnawa music has just begun.
Written by nikkisix03