From the 8th century until the 15th the Moors of North Africa ruled Al-Andalus, what is now modern day Spain. They controlled northern cities like Toledo but the concentrated Muslim areas were Cordoba, Seville and Granada. It was a haven for architecture, art, poetry, literature and music. And it was a time of religious tolerance as Muslims, Jews and Christians lived and thrived together.
The music reflects this as it moved and evolved widely around the regions. Musiqa Andalusia is the general term for the traditional urban music and it flowed back to North Africa, into Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Syria where it found a home and grew yet again. It was in these communities that Andalusian music was preserved but also developed since medieval times.
Instruments were added and taken away, even now, but the core continues to be stringed instruments (lute, violin, guitar, fiddle), drums, tambourine zither, flute, voice and the hands. In some areas you will find modern instruments such as cello, piano and even saxophones.
What the music was called differed by regions, in Andalusia it is known as a’la, in Morocco, san’a, in Algiers, Gharnati and many others but the spirit stays the same. In spite of regional, cultural and national differences Andulusian music is united by formal structures, performance norms and the source identity of Moorish flavor tinged with Jewish and Christian nuances.
For eight centuries the music of Al-Andalus has stood testament to the fruitful cooperation of culture and religion. It lives today, grows, evolves, and is still producing young artists who continue to explore and refine the music heard in the streets, in the clubs and even in the places where men and women worship.
We hope you enjoy this young guitarist from Montenegro, Milos Karadaglic, who continues the tradition of the music of Al-Andalus.