History of Algeria Music

by 09/11/2012 12:23:00 0 comments 1608 Views

Algerian music is virtually synonymous with raï among foreigners; the musical genre has achieved great popularity in France, Spain and other parts of Europe. For several centuries, Algerian music was dominated by styles inherited from Al-Andalus, eventually forming a unique North African twist on these poetic forms. Algerian music came to include suites called nuubaat (singular nuuba). Lately derivatives include rabaab and hawzii.

Music in Algeria in general offers a rich diversity of genre, popular music (Shaabi), Arabo-Andalusian music (Malouf San'aa, Gharnati, etc. ..) music classical Arabic, Bedouin, Berber music (Kabyle, Shawi, Tuareg, Etc. ..), Rai ...

Sha-bii is, in North African countries, folk music; in Algeria, however, it refers to a style of recent urban popular music, of which the best known performer was El Hajj Muhammad El Anka considered like the Grand Master of Andalusian classical music. True styles of folk music include hofii, a form of female vocal music, and zindalii, from Constantine.

Biyouna is an Algerian singer whos music is a mixture of pop, rock, raï, jazz and other types of music. Her last record Blonde dans la Casbah has been a great success.

Rai is a creative outlet to express political discontent,this music is a mix between Western music and Bedouin music. "Rai became an important means of cultural expression for a minority struggling to carve out an ethnic identity and a space for itself in an inhospitable, racist environment" Rai is more than simply cultural expression, it morphed into a unique blend of popular "rebel" music. "What makes raï so rebel, so politically charged, is the fact that it goes against the hard-line conservative government, a religiously fundamentalist establishment. Unlike traditional music, with its subtlety, flowery language, and innocuous subject matters, raï is notable for its blunt imagery and willingness to tackle subjects such as sex, booze, lust, and drink - all of which the deeply religious establishment frowns upon."

The Malouf is the Arab-Andalusian music of Constantine and is also well known in Tunisia and Libya, it is a very large number of diversified musical repertoire of Algeria. Nevertheless, malouf can not compete commercially with popular music, much of it Egyptian, and it has only survived because of the efforts of the Tunisian government and a number of private individuals. Malouf is still performed in public, especially at weddings and circumcision ceremonies, though recordings are relatively rare.


Kabylie is a region east of the capital Algiers, inhabited mostly by speakers of Kabyle, first régional language, and one of the indigenous languages of North Africa. Kabyle folk music has achieved some mainstream success outside of its homeland, both in the rest of Algeria and abroad.

In the 1930s, Kabyles moved in large numbers to Paris, where they established cafes where musicians like Cheikh Nourredine added modern, Western instruments like the banjo, guitar and violin to Kabyle folk melodies. Slimane Azem was a Kabyle immigrant who was inspired by Nourredine and 19th century poet Si Mohand Ou Mohand to address homesickness, poverty and passion in his songs, and he soon (like many Kabyle musicians) became associated with the Algerian independence movement.

By the 1950s, Arab classical music, especially Egyptian superstars like Umm Kulthum, had become popular and left a lasting influence on Kabyle music, specifically in lush orchestration. Cherif Kheddam soon arose with the advent of a Kabyle branch of Radio Algiers after independence in 1962. Female singers also became popular during this period, especially Cherifa, Djamilla and Hanifa.

Algerian independence did not lead to increased freedom for Kabyle musicians, and these Berbers soon included often covert lyrics criticizing the Ben Bella government. Many of these musicians were inspired by other singer-songwriters, including Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, Víctor Jara and Silvio Rodríguez. Abranis ( pop rock amazigh music concept) Idir, a Kabyle geology student, sang Kabylie's first major hit, which sold an unprecedented amount in Algeria and abroad, "A Vava Inouva" (1973). Ferhat, known for his politically uncompromising lyrics, and Aït Menguellet, known for his poetic and inspired lyrics, also became popular during the 1970s.

During the 1980s, Kabyle music evolved into sentimental, pop-ballads performed by groups like Takfarinas. Some of the inspiration for this evolution was the popularity of pop-rai internationally.

Modern singers include Djur Djura and Houri Aichi.


Composers : Aminoss, Sinouj, Azedine Tebibel.

Important musicians

  •     Biyouna her music is a mixture of pop, rock, raï, jazz and other types of music.
  •     Cheikh Larbi Ben Sari, composer and musician from the Tlemcen school of Andalusian music
  •     Abdelkrim Dali, Master of Hawzi classical music
  •     El Hadj Mohamed El Anka, Master of Chaabi classical music
  •     Cheikh Mohamed El Ghafour, musician from the Tlemcen school of Hawzi music
  •     Mohamed Tahar Fergani, musician and master of the Malouf classical style
  •     El Hachemi Guerouabi, musician and reformer of the Chaabi classical style
  •     Fadela Dziria, singer of Hawzi classical style music
  •     Kamel Messaoudi, singer of Chaabi music
  •     Warda Al-Jazairia, singer of classical Arab oriental music
  •     Dahmane El Harrachi, a singer composer and songwriter of Chaabi music
  •     Zaho, an Algerian R&B singer based in Canada.
  •     Chalabi Karim, an Algerian pop singer based in Ireland.
  •     Souad Massi singer, songwriter and guitarist now living in France
  •     Karim Abranis singer, songwriter and guitarist now living in France
  •     Khaled, former king of Raï. Singer, songwriter now living in France.