While traditional music of Morocco draws from Arab, Berber and Andalusian classical and folk influences, contemporary Moroccan music, like the increasingly popular Moroccan rai, is a pulsing, vibrant music that often mixes traditional Arabic scales and rhythms (hear some Arabic rhythms such as “chiftitelli” and “ayoub” courtesy of “Pete Lockett: Multi Percussionist”) with modern synthesized effects reminiscent of disco. The genre originated in, and is most influential, in Algeria, where the expressive music–“rai” means “opinion”–has been a thorn in the political side of successive Algerian governments since the ’70s. Most of the internationally popular rai musicians are Algerian expatriates whose music inspires political resistance and resonates with the fierce independence of the Algerian people. Common contemporary instruments used in the music, according to Afropop.org, are: “cheesy keyboards, grunge guitar, reggae organ, sizzling drum machines, and often disco’s pumping beat.”

Learn more: The Year of Desert Rose: RAI Goes Bigtime | Clearing up myths… | Watch a very smiley Cheb Hanino perform “Wach Eddak,” a performance in which Hanino seems elated, as does a guy in a red sweater-vest who’s dancing with an oud, and as are most of the members of the audience…except one rather skeptical couple (watch closely or you’ll miss them) | Cheb Khaled is one of the the world’s best known and most beloved pop RAI artists. Take a look at Khaled in live in Casablanca


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