Item description for Traveling Spirit Masters: Moroccan Gnawa Trance and Music in the Global Marketplace (Music Culture) by Deborah Kapchan...
A group of ritual musicians and former slaves brought from sub-Saharan Africa to Morocco, the Gnawa heal those they believe to be possessed, using incense, music, and trance. But their practice is hardly of only local interest: the Gnawa have long participated in the world music market through collaborations with African-American jazz musicians and French recording artists. In this first book in English on Gnawa music and its global reach, author Deborah Kapchan explores how these collaborations transfigure racial and musical identities on both sides of the Atlantic. She also addresses how aesthetic styles associated with the sacred come to inhabit non-sacred contexts, and what new amalgams they produce. Her narrative details the fascinating intrinsic properties of trance, including details of enactment, the role of gesture and the body, and the use of the senses, and how they both construct authentic Gnawa identity and reconstruct historically determined relations of power. Traveling Spirit Masters is a captivating and elucidating demonstration of how and why trance--and indeed all sacred music--is fast becoming a transnational sensation.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.3" Width: 7.1" Height: 1.2" Weight: 1.45 lbs.
Release Date Oct 31, 2007
ISBN 0819568511 ISBN13 9780819568519
Availability 0 units.
More About Deborah Kapchan
DEBORAH KAPCHAN is an associate professor of performance studies at New York University. She is the author of Gender on the Market: Moroccan Women and the Revoicing of Tradition (1996).
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A carefully researched account Dec 5, 2007
During the 1960s Morocco's Gnawa musicians were sought out by rock musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Robert Plant, and the Rolling Stones's Brian Jones, and African-American jazz musicians like Randy Weston, Pharoah Sanders, and Archie Shepp.
Since then, the Gnawa have since become icons of Moroccan pop music. The Essaouira Festival, otherwise known as the Gnawa Festival, has attracted tens of thousands of people each June since 1988. New York-based musician Hassan Hakmoun has marketed Gnawa music to the West, combining Gnawa music with jazz and American pop.
Author Deborah Kapchan's experiences with the Gnawa began in 1994 when she lived for a year in Rabat, Morocco, on a research grant. She began to attend ritual ceremonies regularly with the master Si Mohammed Chaouqi. She draws from her experience attending trance ceremonies and from her considerable erudition (her works cited include 600 books).
Kapchan is Professor of Performance Studies in The Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She previously directed the Center for Intercultural Studies in Folklore and Ethnomusicology at the University of Texas--Austin. A citizen of the world, Kapchan is equally comfortable speaking Arabic or English, and living in New York, Paris, or Marrakech.
Many people think of "trance" music as a genre that overlaps New Age and World Music. It is marketed and sold as a quasi mystical-spiritual path for healing one's psyche.
But in some parts of the world Trance is not at all a quiet, internal experience. It's a loud, intense, sometimes violent ceremony of dance and music in which a person seeks to purge his or her demons by dancing, fainting and sometimes abusing oneself with sharp objects and fire. "There were those who seemed to be forcibly thrown to the floor by a power within, their limbs flailing, their heads whipped violently from left to right, their eyes rolling back in their heads, gasps and gags emitting from their throats," Kapchan writes. She wanted to know how these `trancers' put themselves in altered states of being with such relative ease. And once women have become acquainted with the spirits that reside within them, how do they go on to embrace and access their spirits' powers and clairvoyance at will?
The very style that makes musicians like Hassan Hakmoun attractive (what some have called the "jadba beat," the trance beat) has been emptied of its ritual significance and its healing power in order to be circulated on the world music market, Kapchan notes. (I personally have found this trend pervasive within "world music," no matter the country of origin.)
Kapchan says the changes that are created by performing for new audiences and in new contexts--changes such as a shortening of the ritual songs, as well as alterations in the profession of a ceremony that was once sacred--are circling back to influence the ritual practices in Morocco. The Gnawa have become professionalized and are aware that their very identity is a commodity.