Berber music refers to the musical traditions of theBerbers, an ethnic group native to North Africawest of the Nile Valley and parts of West Africa. Berber music varies widely across North-West Africa and some of the best known varieties can be found in Moroccan music; Kabyle, Chawiand Gasba music from Algeria; and Tuareg fromBurkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
Ancient Berber music is stylistically diverse, with styles including pentatonic music, such instruments as the oboe and the bagpipes, and African rhythms along with singing.These ancient musical traditions have been kept alive by small bands of musicians traveling from village to village, entertaining at weddings and other social events with their songs, tales and poetry.
Most Berber music is of the village- and urban-folk musical variety. Berber music and culture is influenced by the Berber people's long-standing struggle to achieve basic language rights and identity recognition in modern North African societies, aside from aesthetics and style.
Berber music is characterized by its use of folk oral traditions, as well as particularscales and rhythmic patterns, which include pentatonic music and African rhythms. All these elements are combined together to form one of the main sources of entertainment in Berber social ceremonies like marriages, as well as verses, tales and songs.
The Berber people are spread out over a large part of Africa, but are mostly concentrated in the northwestern region of Africa. They use a vast array of both melodic and percussive instruments. The following instruments are part of their secular and religious dance and song:
- Taghanimt, an end-blown reed flute. Used mostly to accompany songs rather than dance, the taghanimt has a rich, breathy texture.
- Mizwid, a type of bagpipe; the term literally means "bag" or "food pouch".
- Zukrah (Tunisia) or ghaytah (Morocco). In both countries, these instruments are combined with several percussive instruments to create large ensembles which may perform at public festivals or similar occasions.
- Nafir, a long natural horn, a type of valveless trumpet. This instrument is used mostly as a signaling instrument to send out messages to large groups, although it also has some performance value.
- Ginbri (Morocco), a fretless plucked string instrument with a skin stretched over its body on the playing side: the skin has the same acoustic function as the membrane on a banjo. Most ensembles have at least one ginbri, although some have more than one.
- Rebab, a long-necked bowed instrument with a large body. Like the ginbri, it is constructed with a skin on the string side. This instrument has only one string, usually of horse hair, and is commonly played alongside the ginbri.
- Tabl (Berber: e'ṯbel), a cylindrical double-sided drum. Although it has a similar usage and spelling to the tabla of India, no direct connection has been found between the two. The qas'ah is a large shallow kettledrum found mostly in Tunisia. Similar to the qas'ah is the Naqqarah, two ceramic kettledrums played simultaneously by both hands.
- Bendir (Morocco), a snare frame-drum. A series of bendirs played simultaneously provide the main percussive rhythm for Berber music as the above-mentioned drums are more artistic than bendirs.
- Qaraqib, a large metal castanet-like musical instrument. Normally one is held in each hand. These may be used to keep a rhythm or to play their own pattern.[4
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