CMA Stories

6 Fun Facts about Gnawa Music

Join us on Sunday, April 15 to celebrate the culture of Morocco with us. There will be workshops inspired by traditional and contemporary Moroccan arts practices accompanied by a children’s book reading by the New York Public Library at 11:00 am and an interactive workshop and performance of gnawa music presented by music group, Innov Gnawa at 1:15 pm.

We will be creating constellation-styled maps inspired by contemporary Moroccan artist Bouchra Khalili in the Fine Arts Studio, sculpting the animals of Morocco in the Clay Bar, creating Gnawa inspired music in the Sound Booth and more!

To get us ready for our musical creations in the Sound Booth, here are six fun facts about Gnawa music:

1. Gnawa music is a fusion of poetry, music, and dance created in Morocco by formerly enslaved black Africans to preserve the religious and spiritual traditions of their ancestors.
2. Not created by or for the elite, Gnawa music is traditionally used in private during spiritual ceremonies for healing called lilas.
3. Typical instruments in Gnawa music are the, gimbri, qraqeb, and tbel.
4. The gimbri (also known as the sintir or hajhuj), is a plucked lute with three strings. A metal piece, with rings, is attached to the neck of the gimbri, which produces a jingling sound.
5. The qraqeb (also known as karkabas) is a set of metallic castanets held in the hand. They produce a sound similar to the beat of horses’ hooves.
6. The tbel (also known as ganga) is a large double-headed drum played with one curved stick and one straight stick

This program is supported, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

More in Fun Facts

Sign up to get updates and special invitations