A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World


Issue 21

Like all music, the music of the Western Sahara comprises musical instruments, musicians, singers, poetry and melodies.


French scholar Michel Guignard wrote about the region’s music, and benefited greatly from meeting many of the region’s artists.

In this paper, I attempt to survey and identify the particular features of different types of Hassaniya music, including tidinit music, the music of the people of the basin, Tagant music, and the music of Qiblah. 

I also studied the etymology of musical terms that have gone through an epistemological gap due to historical events.

Any typological study of desert music should take into account the different stringed instruments used, including the tidinit lute, the ardin, the kanbarh, and the rababa. Some of these instruments are played with the fingers, while others are played using tools.

The tidinit is the main instrument used in the Western Sahara; it can be used to play local melodies, melodies imported by immigrants or even the melodies of neighboring countries.

When studying Hassaniya music, the following points should be taken into consideration:   

• Hassaniya or tidinit music is an accumulation of technical skills, and it originated in the prosperous second Almoravid state, so it dates back to the second half of the 11th century AD. It has changed since then.

• The music of the Western Sahara includes different pure Arab and African melodies.

• The richness of tidinit music and its five and seven modes stems from the richness of the vernacular and classical Arabic poetry in that region. Tidinit music is always accompanied by singing. Other types of music, such as Tawariq tidinit, do not resemble the human voice because they are accompanied by narrated stories, not songs.

• Hassaniya music plays an important cultural role in the Western Sahara and it reflects the multicultural nature of the region.

Mohammed Ahdhana


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