Monday, September 03, 2012

Tracing a Rare Paul Bowles Recording

The View from Fez does not usually get involved in treasure hunting - but in the case of a rare Paul Bowles double album, we decided to make an exception. If you have a vinyl copy of the double album set Music of Morocco, contact us and we will put you in touch with a man who is extremely interested in acquiring it. 

Paul Bowles (December 30, 1910 – November 18, 1999) was an American-born artist who has lived in Morocco from the late 1930s. He has been described as the father of the Beat movement and a prominent figure in the American expatriate community in Tangier, Morocco. A well-known composer, his scores include the incidental music to such plays as Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie and Sweet Bird of Youth; he worked with other artists such as Orson Wells, Elia Kazan, and Salvador Dali. He married novelist Jane Auer (1917-73) in 1938.

Mention of Paul Bowles and most people think of his writing. As an author, he is best known for his novels such as The Sheltering Sky, Let It Come Down, and The Spider's House, and for his collections of short stories and travel essays. Extensive travel in Europe, North Africa, and South America provided material for his literary works as well as opportunities to collect folk music.

Recently, The View from Fez was contacted by a collector who is trying to find a copy of Music of Morocco - a collection of recordings made by Paul Bowles. While the tracks are available as digital downloads, our correspondent is searching for the vinyl records. Not an easy task.

Do you have a copy of this album?
Paul Bowles presents - 'Music of Morocco', is a 2-LP set released in 1972 by the Library of Congress, AFS L63-L64 and is described as "Indigeneous Moroccan folk music recorded and edited by Paul Bowles".
Paul Bowles with Bachir Attar and the Master Musicians of Jajouka in Tangier 1991 (photo Cherie Nutting)

The background

The Paul Bowles Moroccan Music Collection held by the American Library of Congress consists of audio recordings, photographs, and accompanying documentation that focus primarily on one recording project. With a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and sponsorship from the Library of Congress, Paul Bowles spent the months of August to September of 1959 traveling throughout Morocco recording approximately 60 hours of traditional folk, art, and popular music. Bowles collected in 23 villages, towns, and cities along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, from Goulimine in the Sahara to Segangan in the Rif country, and inland through the Middle and Grand Atlas ranges to Zagora in the Anti-Atlas. Due to the political situation at the time, Bowles was not able to record in the southeastern region. In 1963, the Library acquired five additional recordings of Moroccan music made by Bowles in 1960- 62. In 1972, the Library issued a two-record set of selections from the collection. A nine-page descriptive booklet accompanies the set.

The heterogenous recordings reflect the variety of Moroccan culture. From urban professionals and religious singers to rural and nomadic tribespeople, the musicians performed vocal and instrumental music. The collection includes dance music, secular music, music for Ramadan and other Islamic rites, and music for animistic rituals. Berber and Arab music predominates, and a considerable variety of styles emerges from the survey of different areas and tribes. Some selections exhibit traces of the antique Andalusian style, reflecting Morocco's historic relationship to Spain. Musical examples originally derived from Mauritania, West Africa, and the Sudan demonstrate the influence of migrations and cultural interchanges across the Sahara and along the Atlantic coast. In addition, there are examples of Sephardic liturgical music and other folksongs from the historic Jewish communities in Essaouira and Meknes. Several recordings feature the rare zamar, a double-reed instrument fitted with two mouthpieces and two bulls' horn resonators.

Dance often was integral to the music events; as Bowles pointed out, usually "music and dance are one thing" to the peoples of Morocco, especially the Berber tribes. In the field notes on the music, Bowles often alluded to the concurrent dancing and sometimes gave movement description. He recorded, among other things, music that accompanied the guedra dance from the village of Goulimine, ahouache (music and dance events) of the Anti-Atlas and Grand Atlas, the aqlal (dance ceremony) in the Draa Valley, Pre-Sahara, and the squel (sword dance) of the Draaoua people of Zagora, Moroccan Sahara. The appendix lists the field notes of recordings where dance was specifically described or alluded to in Bowles' notes or in the LP recording booklet.

The details

Paul Bowles ‎– Music Of Morocco

The Library Of Congress – AFS L63-L64, Recording Laboratory – AFS L63-L64
2 × Vinyl, LP, Album 


Highlands - The Berbers
A1 Ahmeilou (Tafraout)
A2 Song For Male Voice (Tiznit)
A3 Aqlal (Zagora)
A4 Women's Chorus (Tahala)
A5 Mixed Chorus (Tahala)
A6 Men's Chorus (Tafraout)
B1 Aouada Trio (Tamanar)
B2 Chorus And Dance (Tamanar)
B3 Qsbah Solo (Segangan)
B4 Women's Chorus (Ait Ourir)
B5 Mouwal (Ain Leuh)
B6 Men's Chorus (Ait Bou Guemmaz)
Lowlands (Influent Strains)
C1 Male Solo With Women's Chorus (Goulimine)
C2 Rhaitas And Tbola (Einzoren)
C3 Song For Male Voice (Marrakech)
C4 Taqtoqa (Fez)
C5 Gnaoua Chorus (Marrakech)
C6 Gnaoui Solo Song (Marrakech)
C7 Mixed Chorus (Marrakech)
D1 Secular Sephardic Song (Meknes)
D2 Qsida (Meknes)
D3 Andaluz Chorus (Fez)

If you can help us track down a copy of this rare album please contact The View from Fez


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