All Ears for Bowles’ Moroccan Music

TALIM Gilles Aubry Ears Project
No, TALIMblog has not become "BOWLESblog," but it may seem so, with a recent spate of activity in a surprising number of venues on the man's work recording for posterity the musical heritage of Morocco in 1959.  And anyway, there's already the authoritative Paul Bowles website.

Today, we're featuring a number of very exciting moves, including the upcoming 2 April Marrakesh performance and presentation of a research project related to the Bowles collection of traditional Moroccan music.  Here is sound artist Gilles Aubry's account of his "Ears Preservation" project:

TALIM Gilles Aubry Ears Project 2Following the 2010 repatriation of the Bowles Moroccan music collection to Morocco via TALIM, artists Zouheir Atbane and Gilles Aubry have started a collaborative research in order to re-examine discourses and practices related to cultural preservation and audio recording.

Their project, "A Moroccan Anthology of Ears Preservation," involves returning some of the Bowles recordings to their original recording location in order to discuss them with local musicians.

Various questions are addressed in the process, including how to make sense of 50 year old music recordings from a local perspective? Which cultural elements have been preserved? Which ones are missing? What should be done with this collection today?

After the presentation of their installation and "Who Sees the Mystery" at the recent Marrakech Biennale of contemporary art, Aubry & Atbane are now on a residency at the French Institute in Marrakech, further developing their project together with guests Natasha Pradhan, NYU's Anna Reidy and Robert Millis. The results will be presented to the public on 2 April at the Riad Denise Masson in Marrakech.

We are particularly pleased that American scholars Pradhan and Reidy and Swiss researcher Aubry have been among the handful of students of Morocco's music who have taken advantage of our digitized collection of the Bowles Library of Congress recordings.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, we're seeing encouraging efforts to get that digitized collection online, and even to release a four-CD album of excerpts from the collection, updating the two-LP album which was released in the Seventies.  And in Europe, where interest in Bowles' work has always been high in musical and cultural circles, we hope to pursue projects that will further disseminate the music of Morocco that he was instrumental in preserving.

Now, if the Moroccan authorities would just honor their commitment – from 2010, year of the Bowles Centenary – to do something (radio programs? museum of Moroccan music? cultural programs throughout the country?) with the digitized the collection repatriated to Morocco…

Reminds me of what Paul Bowles wrote over a half century ago, "there is no fast way of listening to Berber music."

Text Gerald Loftus; photos Gilles Aubry

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