Noisy Toys interviews:
Aziz Alami, Director, Voices of the Kasbah
NT: Tell us how the music of Morocco is connected to the countys folklore and history.
Alami: The music of Morocco is a combination of several folklores. Morocco is divided into many parts and the people speak different dialects, including four kinds of Berbers. The Berbers are the first inhabitants of Morocco. They play a steel drum made mostly of car parts, like brake drums. They also play tabla, commonly known as Moroccan bongos, and a single stringed instrument like a violin called rabab.
NT: What are your early recollections of the Moroccan music?
Alami: My Dad used to write and sing his own songs, but he never wanted to perform in front of an audience. I enjoyed his singing and thats how I got attached to the music. But he wouldnt let me have my own instrument because he didnt want me to go on the road. He was afraid I would pick up bad habits like drinking or smoking cigarettes. He wanted me to go to school and study instead. My Dad passed away when I was 9 years old and thats when I started playing drums. I bought my first Moroccan bongos during the holiday of Ashora. Its something like Christmas here.
NT: Do Moroccan groups play in clubs like we do here or in the streets?
Alami: Our band never played in the street because we were going to school and not performing for a living. The only time we played in the street
NT: When did you come to the U.S.?
Alami: I came to the U.S. in 1997 as a student and I stopped playing for 4 years. Then I met a Jewish Moroccan guy and we started playing the music.
NT: Why is it important to you to keep the traditional Moroccan music alive?
Alami: I believe playing the roots music is important. The old music is like poetry, very emotional. Now days its more commercial. I like to stay attached to the roots music because its more like real, true stories. Those stories hold true even today.
NT: Explain the family drumming tradition that still exists in some parts of Morocco.
Alami: This tradition is from the Atlas Mountains. After the harvest at the end of the season there were many celebrations and the main instrument was the bendir. The bendirs are made very well over there because the drum-making secrets were passed down from father to son. It was a source of pride in the family how well the sons made and played their own bendir.
Some of the instruments described in this interview are available at Noisy Toys drums & percussion.
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