All About the Gnawa

 Traveling Spirit Master by Deborah Kapchan
Traveling Spirit Master by Deborah Kapchan
Deborah Kapchan has spent years studying the music of the Gnawa and its relationship with the recording industry. Her book Traveling Spirit Master is an wide-ranging excursion into one of the most fascinating trance music genres in the globe.  As the subtitle, Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Market Place, implies, Kapchan goes beyond the study of Gnawa music. The book provides details about how Gnawa music has traveled beyond Morocco’s borders, into Europe and North America and its economic implications.

France has received millions of Moroccans and, thus, Gnawa music traveled with them. There are numerous French acts that perform some sort of Gnawa influenced music. Gnawa music also jumped the Atlantic with American jazz musicians and the renowned Hassan Hakmoun, who currently resides in the United States.

Even though Kapchan focuses primarily on France, Gnawa musicians have fared well in Germany, Spain and other countries. Recently, San Francisco Bay Area world music jam band Hamsa Lila released a double licve CD that has an extensive use of the Gnawa sintir and metal castanets.

Deborah Kapchan is an associate professor of performance studies at New York University. She is the author of Gender on the Market: Moroccan Women and the Revoicing of Tradition (1996).

Buy Traveling Spirit Master.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.