The 14th Gnaoua and world Music Festival will take place from the 23rd to the 26th June, and celebrates the music of the Gnaoua, with performers including the best local and international musicians of the genre. Gnaoua music is the product of a mystic tradition, its branches as widespread as Haitian Voodoo and Brazilian Candomblé.
Gnaoua music originated through the meeting of African magic and Islamic rituals. The Gnaoua ‘brotherhoods’ form a structured unit around their ‘master’, and he leads the music and dancing until the musicians are in a trance-induced state, mesmerised by the rhythms of the drums, lute (gumbri) and castanets (KaraKab).
During religious ceremonies, Gnaouas have been known to beat their heads with iron balls and impale themselves on swords without sustaining any visible signs of injury, but the Essaouira Festival does not feature such extreme performances! It focuses purely on the musical elements of the Gnaoua traditions and its influence on African-inspired musicians.
The Gnaoua and World Music Festival has been running for 14 years, featuring various types of music from the traditional Moroccan Gnaoua music through to Jazz, Pop and Rock. Many of the concerts take place on stages in the main square and on the beach – both of which are free of charge, but there are also more intimate ticketed concerts available. For further details of the programme for this year, see the official Gnaoua Festival website.