Rabita Andalusa is the name given to an ensemble composed of soloists of the Larache Conservatory, the ancient Roman city of Lukhos where, during the golden age of Andalusian-Maghrebi civilization, the sultan Youssef Abdelhaqq El Mérini (1258-1281) reigned. The goal of this free-wheeling association of musicians is to give life to the Andalusian-Maghrebi musical repertoire without forgetting its connections to the popular music of Northern Morocco or the practices of religious brotherhoods.
An artistic choice guided by both authenticity and rigor has directed Rabita Andalusa to reduce their formation to the bare essentials: a rhythmic section composed of a tarr and a derbuka; the plucked stringed instruments represented by the ud and qanun; and the bowed stringed instruments represented by the rebab and the kamanja.
Tarr- (played by Adil Amrani) small tambourine on a circular frame, with five pairs of small cymbals: inserted into the body. It is known in the Arab lands of the Orient as the diff.
Derbuka- (played by Driss Ghani) drum with one membrane and a goblet size body; hit on the side, it emits a dry high-pitched sound (tàq), hit in the center it emits a low-pitched sound (dùm).
Ud- (played by Mustafa Ani) Arab classical lute (al-ud, wood), with a short neck inserted on an almond-shaped resonant body made by staves. King of the instruments of the Arab orchestra, the ud reached its present-day form in the VII century. The strings (five double strings and one lone bass string) are plucked with a pick. In Morocco there exists a more ancient lute with four double strings (ud rubai), with a smaller and narrower body than the classical Arabic lute.
Qanun- (played by Jalloul Majidi) lap cithara in the shape of a trapezoid with 26 three-stringed choirs (78 strings total), held in tension and tuned with chevilles and plucked with ring-shaped plectrums; the tuning may be varied by means of a mobile bridge. At the base of the trapezoid there are five sounding boards formed by the same number of rectangular parchments. The qanùn (canon) is the instrument of the Arabic music theoretician par excellence.
Rebab- (played by Mohammed Ghani) ship-shaped vielle with a table made of parchment and neck covered by thin, pierced yellow copper. The two strings, made from goat intestines, are held in tension by pegs and are put into vibration by a highly curved bow. The sound is low, similar to a cello, with a characteristic harsh voice. The rebab is, with the ud, the king of instruments of Maghrebi classical music. Strictly related to the agean lyre, the Arabs, starting in the middle ages, imported the rebab into Occidental Europe. It gave origin to the ribeca of the troubadours and minstrels and to the Spanish rabel.
Kamanja- (played by Ahmed Taoud) Western violin, introduced in North Africa during the second half of the XIX century, played in a vertical position against the thigh. The alto violin is called the zeìd nakt.