Podcast: The “Lush Garden” of Andalusian Music by Dr. Carl Davila


Dr. Carl Davila holds a PhD in Arabic Studies from Yale University (2006). He lived in Fez off and on for nearly three years in the early 2000s and has visited Morocco frequently since then. Being the first scholar to write extensively in English on the Andalusian music in Morocco, he has published two monographs and numerous articles on the cultural, historical and literary aspects of this grand musical tradition. At the moment, he is developing a book series with E.J. Brill that will present English translations and commentary for all eleven nubas in the modern and historical repertoires. He is currently Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York in Brockport, where he lives with his family and his cat.


This podcast explores the Andalusian music tradition of Morocco, known as al-ala, through the written song collections, such as the famous Kunnash al-Ha’ik. By examining the literary record, embodied in around 40 handwritten manuscripts found in libraries across Europe and North Africa, we can come to understand the evolution of the repertoire over the past two and a half centuries. Of special interest here is a little-known work called al-Rawdat al-Ghanna’ fi Usul al-Ghina’ (“The Lush Garden for the Principles of Song”) of which there are just three surviving copies — including one in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Rabat. In this video podcast we will explore such questions as: Who wrote this work, and when? What is actually in it? And perhaps most significant: Where does it fit in the history of the written repertoire of Andalusian music?

For further reading


Carl Davila: The Andalusian Music of Morocco: History, Society and Text, Wiesbaden, 2013.

Carl Davila: The Pen, the Voice, the Text: Nūbat Ramal al-Māya in Cultural Context, Leiden, 2016.

Ruth Davis: Ma’luf: Reflections on the Arab-Andalusian Music of Tunisia, London, 2004.

Jonathan Glasser: Lost Paradise: Andalusi Music in Urban North Africa, Chicago, 2016.

Mahmoud Guettat: La musique arabo-andalouse: l’empreinte du Maghreb, Paris/Montréal, 2000.

Dwight Reynolds: The Musical Heritage of al-Andalus, London, 2021.

Jonathan Shannon: Performing al-Andalus: Music and Nostalgia Across the Mediterranean, Bloomington, IN, 2015.

Articles of interest:

Carl Davila: “Fixing a Misbegotten Biography: Ziryab in the Mediterranean World,” Al-Masāq v. 21 no. 2, 2009: 121-136.

Dwight Reynolds: “Musical ‘Membrances of Medieval Muslim Spain’.” In Charting Memory: Recalling Medieval Spain, ed. Stacy Beckwith. New York, 2000: 155-168.