For the eighth and last concert of the Sufi Nights series a group from the tariqa Wazzaniyya presented an evening of samā` wa madiḥ (Sufi praise poetry that is chanted or sung). This group brought the series back full circle to the style of Sufi samā` presented by the tariqa Skalliyya last Saturday night. This is samā` that is sung alternately by soloists and the entire group, usually unaccompanied by instruments, and is rooted in the melodic and rhythmic modes of Moroccan Andalusian music.
The tariqa Wazzaniyya takes it’s name from the zawiya (Sufi lodge) of Wazzan, Morocco which was founded around the year 1670 by Mulay `Abdallah bin Ibrahim ash-Sharif (1596-1678). The current Sheikh or leader of the Wazzaniyya is Moulay Ahmad al-Wazzani. However he was not present at this concert and one member of the group from Fez, named Abdallah al-Wazzani, told me that there was not a single leader of this particular group and that all the men present at Dar Tazi came together from various cities and were equally responsible.
The first portion of the concert consisted of long passages of solo singing, which were then answered by group singing. The pieces started slow and heavy and ended faster and lighter, reflecting the Moroccan Andalusian musical structure.
The mood was similar to last night. There was a steady stream of local families and visitors coming and going throughout the evening. The audience lounged in the garden, and some sang along, referring to printed copies of the poetry that the group distributed before the concert.
For the last portion of the concert one of the singers took out a double headed drum and began to play simple and repetitive rhythms that added momentum and rhythmic drive to the sung poetry.
The energy increased and the group sustained a heightened mood until the end. Solo and group vocals locked in sync with the rhythms of the drum and towards the end the audience joined the group in repeating “la ilaha illa Allah” (there is no god but God). By the end of the concert the audience sitting in the garden was completely engaged, and a space was created where the Wazzaniyya performed with the listeners instead of for them.
Story and photographs: Phil Murphy
Earlier Sufi Night reviews
La Hadra Chefchaounia