Sufi Music in Performance: A Closer Look

Said Guissi's Aissawa Ensemble is from the holy city of Fes, Morocco. Considered among Morocco's most famous and accomplished groups to emerge from the centuries-old Aissawa tariqa,or Sufi organization, the group uses trumpets and pipes to pierce through a barrage of polyphonic drumming, creating a trance-inducing wall of sound.

René Brunel, writing about the Aissawa in the 1920s, described his experience of “the furious tempest of drums and oboes”, saying the spectators were “in the grip of the terrifying staccato music seized by this contagious madness and ecstatic frenzy which none can resist". The music of the Aissawa tariqa is considered fabulously rhythmic, with long horns intended 'to wake the faithful', both literally and figuratively.

In the video clip to the right, shot in early 2009 in Fez, Morocco, the Aissawa Ensemble can be seen in performance, sharing its varied style in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Aissawa Ensemble, in Performance

Vibrant footage of the Aissawa Ensemble, shot in early 2009, brings to life the Sufi musical tradition of connecting with the Divine.