Algerian Music and Musicians

When foreigners think of Algerian music, the first genre that springs to mind is rai. Rai music of Algeria has been met with great enthusiasm in France and other European countries. Algeria's music history was largely based on styles from Andalusia that were given a more African feel. Nuubaat music is a combination of already existing music that had a strong Ottoman influence. Hawzii and rabaab were derived from nuubaat. Algerian folk music styles are known as zindalii and hofii.

Rai can be literally translated as: “advice”, “an opinion”, “a thought” etc. According to locals, people would visit a shikh, the poet of malhun, whom they would ask for rai, or advice. This he would provide in the form of poetry. This genre originated in the beginning of the 20th century as Bedouin shepherd folk music that was influenced by French, Spanish, Arabic and African-American music styles. It is said that rai came into existence as people moved to western Algerian cities at the time of the Great Depression. Others argue that the genre developed many years before that. Rai is characterized by a repetitive beat that is ideal for dancing. Lyrics are sung in a variety of local dialects and other languages spoken in Algeria. In recent years, rai has become more pop-orientated and has come to include several Western instruments in the compositions. Rai music of Algeria can be heard in North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Europe.

Kabylian folk music, originating in the Berber region of Kabylia in Algeria, has gained popularity even beyond Algeria’s borders. During the 1930’s Kabylians, such as Cheikh Nourredine, moved to Paris and began to adopt instruments like the guitar, violin and banjo into their local music. In 1973 Kabylian music gained great international recognition when Idir sang the hit EA Vava Inouvae. In the 1980s the music took on more of a pop-ballad form.

For a taste of Algerian music why not look for an online Algerian music radio or Algerian music TV station. This is a great way to immerse yourself in the rich culture of this fascinating country.

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