Moroccan music is predominantly of Arab origins. There also exist other varieties of Berber folk music. Andalusian and other imported influences have had a major effect on the country’s musical character. Rock-influenced chaabi bands are widespread, as is trance music with historical origins in Muslim music.
Morocco is home to Andalusian classical music that is found throughout North Africa. It probably evolved under the Moors in Cordoba, and the Persian-born musician Ziryab is usually credited with its invention.
Chaabi (popular) is a music consisting of numerous varieties which are descended from the multifarious forms of Moroccan folk music. Chaabi was originally performed in markets, but is now found at any celebration or meeting.
Gharnati – Gharnati is found in both Morocco and Algeria, primarily popular in Rabat and Oujda in Morocco. It is arranged in nuba like al-âla; there are four unfinished nuba and twelve complete ones. Orchestras consist of kvîtra, mandolin, banjo, oud and kamenjah. The word Gharnati comes from the Andalusian city of Granada.
Berber Music – There are three varieties of Berber folk music: village and ritual music, and the music performed by professional musicians.
Village music is performed collectively for dancing, including ahidus and ahouach dances. Instruments include flutes and drums. These dances begin with a chanted prayer. Ritual music is performed at regular ceremonies to celebrate marriages and other important life events. Ritual music is also used as protection against evil spirits. Professional musicians (imdyazn) travel in groups of four, led by a poet (amydaz). The amydaz performs improvised poems, often accompanied by drums and rabab (a one-stringed fiddle), along with a bou oughanim who plays a double clarinet and acts as a clown for the group.
The Chleuh Berbers have professional musicians called rwais who play in ensembles consisting of lutes, rababs and cymbals, with any number of vocalist. The leader, or rayes, leads the choreography and music of the group. These performances begin with an instrumental astara on rabab, which also gives the notes of the melody which follows. The next phase is the amarg, or sung poetry, and then ammussu, a danced overture, tammust, an energetic song, aberdag, a dance, and finally the rhythmically swift tabbayt. There is some variation in the presentation of the order, but the astara always begins, and the tabbayt always ends.
Sufi Music – Sufi brotherhoods (tarikas) are common in Morocco, and music is an integral part of their spiritual tradition, in contrast to most other forms of Islam, which do not use music. This music is an attempt at reaching a trance state which inspires mystical ecstasy. The brothers hold hands in a circle and chant or dance. Sufi music is usually without rhythm.
Marrakech and other regions in southern Morocco are home to the Gnawa Brotherhood, which claims descent from the Ethiopian muezzin Sidi Bilal. Gnaoua ceremonies (deiceba) are used to protect against mental illness, scorpion stings and malicious spirits. Deiceba may be related to Sub-Saharan African ceremonies and use a long-necked lute of African origin called the guembri, as well as castanets called garagab.
Popular Western forms of music are becoming increasingly popular in Morocco, such as fusion, rock, country, metal and particularly hip hop.