Nûba of Gold and Light

  • Nûba d'or et de lumière
Genre : Musical
Type : Documentary
Original title :
Principal country concerned : Column : Music, Cinema/tv
Year of production : 2007
Format : Feature
Running time : 80 (in minutes)

"Nuba of Gold and Light" tells the story of a music. The Arab Andalusian music, with Nuba as its symphony... As a musical tree, its branches are nourished by the sap flowing since fourteen centuries from Morocco's most remote areas and currents coming from Arabia, grew in the courts of the Andalusian Caliphs, gained strenght in medieval Spain, mingled with the songs of the troubadours and the Sephardim, before being replanted in the Maghreb and flourishing further into Morocco under the name of el Ala. Morocco, France, 2007 Music film by the mother superior of the Moroccan documentary about the history of the nûba, 14th century old Arab and Andalusian music that is known in North Africa as El Ala. With exciting concert recordings. In this music film, Izza Génini,'grande dame' of the Moroccan documentary, investigates the history of the nûba. The Arab-Andalusian music had its origins 14 centuries ago in Andalucia. It found its way to North Africa and became known in Morocco as El Ala. Based on orchestral performances, music connoisseurs, historians and a weaver from Fez, Génini guides us into the world of this age old music. Originally there were 24 nûbas, composed to match the hours of the day. Now there are 11 left, brought back from oblivion in the eighteenth century by El Haik of Tetouan. He wrote them down in a book that has become the bible for lovers of the nûba. The dawn, the evening and the night are the most important elements in this form of music to inspire the musicians and poets. The musical form is scientific and follows musical and poetic rules with great precision. Young and old play in the orchestras. The music is performed by voices, violins, lutes and a'rabab' and has a trance-like effect. With great love and attention, Génini records various performances during music festivals in Fez, Tangiers and Rabat, and it is especially striking how enthusiastically and intensely the audience experiences this music. Nûba of Gold and Light is an exuberant illustration of the vitality of this music form, not only within the borders of Morocco but also beyond.

The meaning of a "nûba" Etymologically, the word "nûba" means "each one in turn". Kings and princes originally listened to the musicians in turn. Subsequently the word was used to describe a set of poems sung to a precise tempo. The birth and expansion of this music are parallel to that of the El Andalus civilisation in Spain, a blend of Oriental and North Moroccan trends. In 822, a man of letters and a musical genius arrived in Cordoba, Zyriab, also called "the Blackbird". He came from Baghdad and was installed at the Caliph's Court in Cordoba. There he set down the foundations of Arab Andalusian music, which was later called Al-Ala (the instruments) in Morocco. The orchestras of Fez, Tangiers, Chefchaouen, Ksar El Kébir or Safi, while all standing by the classical tradition of this music, all interpret the nûba in a style that is characteristic of each town. The scholarlyart of nûba follows a precise system based on mystical concepts and medical principles of the time, called the "tree" of modes and temperament, a corpus depicted as a "tree". Structured in five different movements, the nûba appeal foremost to the senses, stirring them up or appeasing them, depending on the time of day or the mood of the listener; it is a music that refers to the elements of nature, from which it extracts its texture and motion.

Author's note It will have taken me some time and a more profound knowledge of Arab Andalusian, or Andalusia-Maghreb music, to realize that the impression of monotony and immobility that the musicians of Moroccan "Ala" orchestras, aligned in a motionless row, inspire the uninitiated, is simply a misguided opinion voiced by ignorance or indifference. It is the fervour of those who are enthralled by this music and its passionate advocates that triggered my curiosity to such an extent that I felt compelled to make a film on this music, to remove this prejudice and share the beauty and the pleasure. I chose to film it: > In its context (the town, the house, the school, the music salon), in its side aspects (rehearsals, music lessons), in its performance (voices, instruments, gestures), in its results and in its future (under threat or in full growth? Static or receptive to innovation?). > In its relations to the Arab Andalousian civilization of medieval Spain. > In its close relation to the elements, the hours of day and human feelings. > In major towns and surrounding areas of Northern Morocco, heirs to the Andalusian heritage and in its centennial steps, or on the benches of a class in Paris, where musicians, poets and singers revive, from Tanger to Tel-Aviv, the sounds escaped from Spanish Courts, by playing the nûba, an Andalousian symphony. Izza Génini

Languages: Arabic, Spanish, with French subtitles
With: Francoise Atlan and the Orchestra of Mohammed Briouel from Fez, Ihsan Rmiki and the El Awj Ensemble, The Amine El Akrami Orchestra of Tetouan, The orchestra of M. Zitouni and the musicians of the Hanafta café in Tangiers, The Arab Andalou Orchestra and the Hadarate of Chefchaouen, Albert Bouadanah and Gérard Edery
Musical Advisors: Henri Lecomte, Abdeslam Khaloufi
DOP: Jean-Jacques Mrejen, Guillaume Génini
Sound: Samuel Cohen
Editing : Claude Santiago, Abderrahim Mettour
Voice: Joanne Genini-Béguin
Location : Morocco / Spain / France
Post production : France / Maroc
Co-Production : OHRA (Paris) - SOREAD/2M - SIGMA (Morocco), with the support of SACEM

FESTIVALS 2008 | IFFR 2008 - 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam | ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands | www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com | > Selection - Time & Tide (competition Tiger Awards) 2008 | FIPA 2008 | BIARRITZ, France | 22nd-27th january | > In Competition 2008 | Reel Music Film Festival in Portland | PORTLAND, (OR) Usa | 27th january | > Selection 2008 | TAMBOURS BATTANT ET RYTHMES DE MARRAKECH | PARIS, France | du 16 au 19 janvier | Week end Achoura : Musée du Quai Branly |. > Selection 2008 | Regards Sud | LYON, France | 12th january | at Institut Lumière > Selection


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