Sti Fatma Series | The Very Real Side of Tourist Entertainment |

2015-10-05 14.48.46

My mother and I find ourselves serenaded bank side of a waterfall footpath as we tuck into lunch in the middle of a hiking excursion of the Sti Fatma mountains. The sound is upbeat and airy, with the thud of the bendir (frame drum) played by the gentlemen on the right. In full traditional attire (or Djelleba as they call it locally in most Moroccan regions) he nods cooly with every beat struck against the (likely) goats skin surface of the instrument. His partner plays a more unusual looking crossbow-like object – funnily enough my mind anticipates the strike of cupid’s arrow. My heart is filled with warmth and enamoured by the experience, so this is not an unreasonable association. At a closer look it becomes apparent that it is a Berber instrument called the rebab, a 9th or 10th century one-stringed bowed instrument found in various forms across the North African and Arab region. The performance ends and people feel obliged to toss coins into the fedora hats the entertainers use to shade themselves from the intense midday October sun. This is of course a hussle, a day job and a replica of a moment of authenticity contrived of traditional song and dance. It works and the tourist routine is perfected but we engage willingly. Without question, even in rural parts of town, families must be fed and families must eat.

Hear the sound of the rabab and learn more about Moroccan and Arab instruments on the Music of Morocco website.

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