Trances (1981) - full transcript

The group's "Trances" are our equivalent of "soul music", our irrationality. I followed the example of the Nass El Ghiwane themselves: I went back to the roots. They draw their music from the last thousand years of Moroccan and African history. the film sets out to reveal and emphasize this heritage. I chose the music of the Saharan brotherhood, The Gnawas, and the verses of the famous poet El Mejdoub, to underline the trances

We sacrifice blood and soul
for you, Ghiwane!

Nass El Ghiwane!

Larbi Batma, Abderrahman Paco,

Allal Yaala, and Omar Sayed are

Nass El Ghiwane.


when shall our days brighten?


when shall our days brighten?

Let's ask that the clouds
clear on the Arabs

You, who listen to my words,
share my certainties

Death has danced on the Arab
while tyrants multiply

My friend, only you
can understand my words

And make the truth shine

when shall our days brighten?


You endure life
and its misfortunes

So much pain
on the altar of truth

The ink bottle
has nothing to hide from the pen

Our kids will dig the truth out
with their bare hands

In the land of Arabs
the sound of owl cries

You endure life
and its misfortunes

So much pain
on the altar of truth

The ink bottle
has nothing to hide from the pen

Our kids will dig the truth out
with their bare hands


Who can deny us peace?

Yes, yes

Will love illuminate us some day?

Yes, yes

Who thought I'd surrender

Exhausted by a hopeless struggle?

Who can deny us peace?

Will love illuminate us some day?


Who thought I'd surrender?

Brothers, in my open heart

Arabs, let's seek all of our freedoms

Plant trees
so freedom may bloom

We are lost we are lost

Arabs, we are lost

Al Ghiwane!

Where are the dear ones
who used fo gather around you?

Siniya, my beloved fea tray

How easy it is to love you people

Dear friend, how can I forget you?

How can I soothe my pain?

To the union of tea and amber

Wormwood and mint are invited

My glass stands alone,
sad and orphaned

It makes me cry

Why is he so lonely and rejected?

Why is my glass despised?
It makes me feel outcast

Because it stands alone in tears

Marked by fate

Siniya, my beloved fea tray

Then he threw that to him.

Not bad, is she?

You're a bunch of idiots.
You got nothing better to do?

Who do you think you are
in those jeans?

If you don't see me again,
pray for me


Hello, Omar called you,

and Jeblia wants you
to drop by at 1:00.

Bouchta expects you at 5:00,
or you can go to Jemmi.

Jemmi is back? Okay, bye.

She is graceful and slim
like a palm tree

Praise the prophet!

Nass El Ghiwane
are giving another concert

at the Exhibition Center in Tunis
on a later date.

The band will also tour
throughout the country.

What I want fo tell you guys is that

today there's no difference
between creation and research.

We may fall back
on some old piece of music.

Come on, we're not machines.

It comes out or it doesn't.

Yes, it may come all of a sudden.

It's a matter of inspiration.

Today they force you to do anything.

- No, you have to do research.
- First of all, you need a good story.

Once my mother told me
about this song

by a father and his daughter
during the great famine.

We weren't born yet,

and neither was the author
of the famous “Goulou a Hmida”.

The father and daughter
were begging with this song.

Listen to me, good people
The rich man has died

The wise and the ignorant
hurried to his magnificent funeral

Listen, they've forgotten the life
coated in silver and gold

Did you get it?


While the little girl was singing,
her father repeated after her.

Then there's another song,
“The Stormy Winds.”

Have you heard about it, Allal?

Listen to the stormy winds

And to these unhappy souls

Who suffer forever

Don't you like it?
- No, that's not it.

First of all,
let's consider the lyrics.

Listen to my feedback first.

In my opinion,
when you say, for example,

“The tyrant sleeps” —

It's the tyrant's eye that sleeps,

since he's unworried,

while his victim's heart
remains awake.

His victim's heart remains awake
oppressed by his burden.

What bothers me
is that your tyrant sleeps.

He shouldn't be able to.
- Stop kidding.

You can't be serious for a second.

If you want to joke, it's fine with me,
and we will rehearse later.

We owe our musical background to Allal.

He knows the different
Arabic musical scales,

whether it is the Rast
or Bayati scale

or the Do, Re or Sol note.

We learned the scales
we can sing comfortably.

He can read music.

It's Allal, open up.

Now we'll study the Rast scale.

Ascending is Mi and Si in quarter tone

and they turn flat when descending.

Let's practice with the instrument.

One, two —

This is low —
Mi quarter tone and Si quarter tone.

Come on, Abderrahman.

Do you remember, Allal, when we
came to visit you with Boujemaa —

may God rest his soul —
to record the song “Siniya™?

We hired some bendir drums
to record “Siniya” the next day.

How long did we rehearse?
- Half an hour, I think.

I had been rehearsing at the studio
for half an hour.

I asked the director for a chair
so I could play comfortably.

He thought I wanted to interfere
with his direction.

He told us,

“Instead of ‘Siniya,'
why don't you sing a love song?”

I replied
that there is plenty of love in “Siniya.”

Isn't it true love
that gathers folks around the tea tray?

“I'm longing for my folks.
I'm missing those brave people?

And all my neighbors, where are they?”
Isn't this love?

Yes, but if you really think about it,
at that time we weren't recognized.

We didn't have any recognition.

May God bless Boujemaa's soul.

“My brother died yesterday.”

“My brother died yesterday.”

This song is dedicated to the memory
of our brother, Boujemaa.

Allah is great!

Thank you.

Go back to Taourira
that you know so well

And admire the nymph in rings
adorned with henna

Her straight and smooth fringe

Her burning black eyes
with silky eyelashes

Her pearl-like teeth

Her lively tapering legs

Lord, bless her beauty


Oh, the saints


“My brother died yesterday,
and I got the news today?

I've urged you, give a fatal blow,

give a fatal blow to the viper's head.

My brother died yesterday,
and I got the news today?

He died forgotten,
far from his roots and his people.”

Twixt winds and threatening clouds

I alone have to go on

I say, never will oblivion
darken my heart

It's hard for me to forget him

Go on, play, Allal.

We need our own sound system.

Okay, no problem.

And regarding the change?

Thanks, we'll get back to you
if anything new comes up.

Perfect, brother.

Bye, God bless you, Raja.


What do you want to know?

Do you want to hear about my life,

how I started?

First of all,

those who were born
in 45, '46, '47, '48,

the generation
born in the late ‘40s and early '50s,

were totally focused on Eastern music.

Mohammed Abdel Wahab,
Farid Al-Atrash, Asmahan,

Fairuz, Leila Mourad, Abdel Halim,

and the late Umm Kulthum.

They were really hooked
on Eastern music.

I was too.

So much so, that one day

I turned up at the radio station
in Casablanca

to sing this type of music.

But it was a mistake.

And guess who —

I got out of it, thanks to Boujemaa.

He said, “You want to sing
in this radio station?

Do you want to be in the choir
for the next 20 years?

They will never make it,
but you can.

Do some theater.

Come and meet Tayeb Saddiki.

He's the director
of a popular theater company.

They do the ‘Bssat,' folk theater,
accompanied by popular ballads.”

Then he said,

“As a Moroccan, you should start looking
for your own roots.

To begin with,
you should sing popular poetry,

then move onto something else.”

It says in the “Al Khalkhal” epic:

In your exile

And your wanderings

Wounded like me

You can't help chanting beauty

Even when yours has long faded

Listen to me carefully

Listen, this is my story

Do you remember
the first time at the theater?

You were waiting for me
with Boujemaa.

- Yes, it was back in 1967.
- Do you remember Boujemaa?

He gave me lots of support.

I was young and shy at the time.

You brought a bendir drum.

Yes, I did.

You kept it hidden.

It was funny.

My mother wrapped it up in a cloth.

It was a sheepskin,
not a goatskin, bendir drum.

- Yes, it was sheepskin.
- It cooled down quickly.

It wasn't goatskin.

It was sheepskin
which cools down faster.

At the time, I didn't realize
that the theater was full of bendir drums.

There were more than 30 of them.

- Are these Chikhat-dancers?
- Mahmud got here early.

Lalla is looking so nice

In my opinion,

Nass El Ghiwane isn't a pop group
in the classical sense,

but more of a theater group that sings.

They're sort of troubadours.

Even here, for example,
in the Atlas Mountains —


In the Atlas mountains,
we have three or four poets

who travel from souk to souk,
from village to village,

singing stories from a political,
economic or sociological viewpoint

that deeply interests people.

This is Nass El Ghiwane's
secret of success.

Nass El Ghiwane were the first,
and they still are.

Moroccans recognize
themselves in the group.

They see their problems
reflected in their songs,

their daily life
and all their issues.

Give it to my mom
Here you go mom

The bread of Seghina,
I tasted it and ate it

The brooch, the rings
and the 100 ryals

Are trimmings for my mother

Her goodness has no equal

I will never eat stale bread again

I refuse it

Hlima's daughter brought it

It's hers
She can take it back

Here, Mommy
Take it, Mommy

Prayers and greetings
for our prophet Muhammad

May God help all who came here
and make everyone's wish true.

The askers If they asked

The faithful if they prayed

May Allah praise
the prophet Mohammed

Brother, this is my plea

If] go, if leave you

Free me from slavery,
free me from your rites

Free me from slavery

I challenge death down here

Oh, brother Arab

Oh, my days

What do I want from this world?

No peace, no calm,
Just chaos and move on

My heart
pushes away life from within

When hate and slander reign

“The credulous add to my suffering.

Black or white, aren't they the same?

Why does the net
hold the sieve in contempt?”

Brother, this is my plea

If] go, if leave you

Brother, this is my plea

If] go, if leave you

Free me from slavery,
free me from your rites

Oh, night

Oh, father, oh, Saint Mira

Oh, prophet

There is no other God but Allah

Hey, my people
Hey, my people

Praise God

Praise our God

Oh, prophet Mohammed

Prayers and greetings
for our prophet

“Has justice sworn
to erase all its traces?

Wiped out by evil spells,

it's no longer within our horizon.

An intrigue of good and evil,
masters and slaves.

It is our fault that we have
no unified language or rhythm.

We accumulate weaknesses

and a plethora of beliefs.

Isn't a man a mirror for another man?”

Lord, guide our steps

Yes, Lord, guide our steps
I say, ‘Enough, please”

This world has waited too long
for the incentive

To undergo new changes

This world has waited too long
for the incentive

To undergo new changes

Inebriate us, infoxicate us,
with the fury of your sea

Oh, friena,
face the winds of your destiny

Is hunger a damnation
in this world?

Why do the children's corpses
lie forgotten?

Inebriate us, infoxicate us,
on top of that high mountain

Inebriate us, infoxicate us,
with the fury of your sea

This world gives in to greed

Life is materialistic

Life is materialistic

Death separates us,
oh brother

There is only one god

There is only one god

Help us, Lord

Aisha-H'mad, where are you?

Berber Aisha-H'mad.

Listen, Omar...

I am praying for you
and giving you my blessings.

Thank you.

May your father's soul rest in peace.

Thank you and bless you.

Aisha-H'mad is 115 years old,

and she walked all the way here.

It's incredible.

I want to confess something,

but I'm sure
you won't believe me.

Go ahead.

You'll never believe me,

but I must tell you.

I've been having this apparition,
the same girl,

even in my dreams.

One day,
she was near a fountain,

another day at the bus stop.

So what?

- Omar, you're never serious.
- It's for his own good.

He's going crazy.

Maybe I've been driven crazy,

but this is the truth.

This girl by the fountain...

she looked at me and sneered.

You know what?
Go for a stroll.

Please, just take a walk.

I'm wasting my time on you!

I swear, one time, this guy,

I saw him at his house
reading a book,

a huge book.

He was reading the same passage
a thousand times

and another one backwards 150 times.

He put spices in a fire pit.

Then he put herbs in a censer

which caused an explosion.

He invented a magic firework.

In the name of God, I begin

fo reveal the secrets
hidden in my soul.

I praise the prophet.

I utter your sublime name.
I ask you in your sublime name.

Help me, save me
and show me your secrers.

This girl is always on my mind.

When I read these verses,

I saw her in front of me.

Wherever I go,
she's always there.

I have no more hope
I have decided to leave

Stop crying, eyes of mine

Enough suffering
for the moment

Stop crying, eyes of mine

Enough suffering
for the moment

Time has cheated me,
left me in the lurch

You who question me,
don't ask the impossible

My story is on my forehead

No desire tempts me

Except breaking off and fading away

I have a trade, I'm an artisan,

but I have a special bond with singing.

I would never give up music.

I can do theater or whatever,
but I can't give up singing.

Singing is in my blood.

I's something that can't be erased.

That's a strange question you ask.

If we weren't allowed to sing,
what would we do?

First of all,
I'd challenge whoever forbade me,

but let's imagine the worst.

I can still do many things —

a person can do many things —

even if I lose a hand or a foot.

If a person has been an actor,
he can go back to the stage.

One could write poetry or novels.

There are so many kinds of art.

As I was saying earlier,

I don't want to play the drums
till 'm over 50,

nor Omar the bendir
when he's 60.

There are new experiences.

Art is so wide-ranging.

A good question, for sure.

I was asked one day,

“If Nass El Ghiwane didn't exist,

where would you be?”

There are other artists.

Some say,
“They would have been doctors,

or just wasting their time,

bundling chili peppers in some dump.”

- God bless.
- “In Sidi Bouknadel.”

Now seriously,

I really think I am attracted to theater.

I prefer acting to singing.

“Only the loss of men torments me.

Rebuilding walls is small consolation...

to the tragedy of children
aying of hunger.

The loss of men torments me.

Burned fields can bloom again
with our children's laughter.

Only the loss of men torments me.

Rebuilding walls is small consolation.”

The loss of men torments me

Rebuilding walls is small consolation

Few people know the truth
about Aisha Kandisha.

Everyone thinks
she's a sorceress, a genie.

In fact, she was the first woman
ever to be a rebel.

She was so beautiful
that men surrendered.

They could not control themselves.

They went crazy for her.

She lived at Jorf Lasfar,
near El Jadida.

When the Portuguese invaded us,

her village was the first target
of their massacre.

Discovering the scene,
she had a big emotional shock.

“Lost souls, in the veneration
of your own longings,

you ignore your chained dead.

The moss complains to the rocks
of the violence of the waves.

The storm bursts
with no thunder or lightning.

A land of motionless stones,
white-hot and immobile winds.

No one worries about those
who are crushed by the spur.

No healing miracle.

10 and 10
makes this century the 20th.

We still feed ourselves
like flies on carrion.

We all look alike.

Even though the apple
differs from the pomegranate.”

She met a soldier...

who went by the name of McDonald,

but was also known as ‘Sidi Majdoul.”

He raped her and she killed him.

She decided to avenge herselr...

on all Portuguese soldiers by appearing
to them and driving them mad.

According fo the legend, she would
bewitch them to the point of madness.

Then she would deal
the fatal blow to her victims.

The Portuguese got on her trail,

searching all over for her.

At that time, there was a caravan guide
called Sidi Ahmed El Mesnaoui.

He was a rich, important man.

He lived near El Jadida.

She went fo see him.

She hid in his caravan,

and would only travel out at night.

When the rich caravan's men saw her
they were dazzled by her beauty.

They fought each other
and perished one by one.

El Mesnaoui died in the skirmish.

She was given shelter...

by a certain Sidi Rahal.

He was a wise holy man,
who lived near Quarzazate.

She went to Sidi Rahal

and told him her story.

Troops were rallied
by Aisha Kandisha

and they launched an offensive
against the Portuguese,

armed with rifles and pitchforks.

Aisha was killed in the battle.

No one knows where she's buried.

That's the gist
of Aisha Kandisha's story.

Welcome, welcome

white birds of peace and love

I submit myself to you
with honor

In purity and fraternity

in the way of brotherhood

Lord, you're welcome

- Life is made of yearnings
- This life is greed

- Where does life lead us, brothers?
- This life is greed

Your fate wounds me

And your destiny distresses me

Your fate wounds me

And your destiny distresses me

white birds of peace and love

I submit myself to you
with honor

In purity and fraternity

in the way of brotherhood

Lord, you're welcome

Tell the scandalmonger,
tell the man of evil fongue

That he betrays our virtue

Tell him that the camel
never believed it had a hump

But always sees his brothers

Tell him that the camel
never believed it had a hump

The truth cannot silence lies
Those that are richly adorned

Trance, trance
Hey, people of the trance

He betrays our virtue

Tell him that the camel
never believed it had a hump

But always sees his brothers

Tell him that the camel
never believed it had a hump

The truth cannot silence lies
Those that are richly adorned

Here, at ast,
comes the time of ecstasy, of frances

Those who refuse to their senses
the gift of trances shall wither

If, if —

If, you know —

If I didn't trust you, Omar,
but I always do —

Let me speak.

Listen to what I'm saying.

If I didn't trust you, Omar,

I would have met with that fellow
and asked him to show me the contract.

I would have made a scene
and asked him to show me the contract.

But I trust you. I know that you
wouldn't do anything like this.

Let's hire a lawyer to protect us.

We can sue this man —-

Listen, Omar!

Piracy isn't just our problem.

It affects Fatna Bent L'houcine,
Qachbal and Zeroual, Hadda Ouakki,

even big stars from New York,

Russia, China and India.

I's a common problem if you don't
have a grasp of legal technicalities.

You need to be a lawyer
to understand all the loopholes in a deal.

I'm just an artist.
Do I have to be a lawyer as well?

If I'd gone to university,
I wouldn't be helpless now.

- It's true.
- Right?

We have to solve all the problems
amongst ourselves.

Actually, even though we're
folk musicians who sing about peace,

we have to hire a lawyer
to protect our interests.

Being pacifist is one thing,

yielding is another.

This guy told us a pack of lies.

“You'll appear in a film
with horses over your heads.”

No one laughed,
and we did tour with him.

Why? Because we couldn't agree
among ourselves.

Some agreed,
while others kept changing their minds.

I've got an idea.
Let's do three concerts

and a charity show
for handicapped children.

What about it?

When we do a tour —

A charity concert —

We should do the following: for every
six paid shows we give a charity one.

Shall we do this?
- Why not?

This is a Nass el Ghiwane song

What do I want from this world?

No peace, no calm,
Just chaos and move on

Al gnawi baba Mimoun

Al gnawi, Al gnawi

Gnawa songs about their leader

Come on, get moving!

Get out of here!

Every night around 10.00,

he'd throw away a huge tub
of greasy, stinking water.

It really was foul,

as if 30 skunks
had just passed by.

It was unbearable,

it absolutely reeked.

That's what affected my eyesight.

I finally got used to the stench
and started giving him a hand.

- You started working with him.
- That's why I now have eye problems.

Give me that box, the little one.

That small one.
Give me that one there.

How much for that?
- Sixty francs for you.

It's carved from a thuja stump.

Sure, but it's not silver.

It's genuine thuja.

Stop trying to trick me.

Bring us some tea.

Is that the “Hamdouchi” rhythm?

It starts with, “One God.”

“There is only one God” —

We have the same rhythm here,
in Essaouira.

First of all,
give a tip to the gentleman.

I know the “lassaoui” rhythm too.

Give him something first.

Play the “hamdouchi” again.

We are now working
on a song based on that rhythm

and sometimes we incorporate
these scales into our work.

Play it again.

Let's use the flute and try
“When the Days Call Me.”

Try to play it on the Sol note.

Try again.

- It's got to be higher.
- It doesn't sound good.

You've got to play higher.

Get the bass, Abderrahman.

When the days call me

Oh, my days,
problems are increasing

Stricken by anguish

When the rain beats time
like my tears do

I carve my words
and passions in stones

And wander through
the maze of my songs

When the days call me

Oh, my days,
problems are increasing

Stricken by anguish

I started playing music, studying it,
the rhythm and scales.

I love what I do.

If it all goes up in smoke,

I'll turn to something else.

If I'm in need.

Yes, he is right.

What do you want to do
besides music?

We can't limit ourselves.

The important thing is to love
what you do.

If a road sweeper
is happy cleaning up garbage,

he won't like being forced
into managing a car company.

It's not certain
that he'd be happier.

You can't predict the future,
especially for an artist.

Yes, it can have highs
and it can have lows.

You might have faith in your work,

when it actually isn't worth much.

I believe in our path.

You're a film director yourself,

but if they stop you
from making films,

you'd find yourself another job.

We've all had other jobs too.

I was a fisherman,
Omar picked oranges.

But it wasn't our choice.

If I took aside El Maanouni
and threatened him:

“No more films,

you've got to work in a factory,”

and then forced him into it,

he'd only be doing it out of fear.

Take hold of me, take me away

Take hold of me, take me away

A blacksmith pounds my heart
with hard blows

If it cools off he adds fire to it

My blood drains out in the din

I am dealt blow after blow

My betrayed blood,
the ground will never forget you

The beasts in the forest fear you

You will never sink into oblivion

In this land that remembers
the ground will never forget you

My betrayed blood,
the ground will never forget you

The beasts in the forest fear you

And the snakes in the desert

I will never give up
on this betrayed blood

Nor on the rights of the weak

I was stabbed in the back

Can one die more than once?

Take hold of me, take me away

Why am I sacrificed in silence?

What is happening to me?

Will my boat
ever reach the riverbank?

Who darkened your transparency

You who stood erect?

Father, who is Satan
and who is the ogre?

When will these stories end?

Hey, Baba Hamouda

Here is my oppressed sister

My oppressed brother
My deserted home

Brothers in trances,
when will freedom come?

They threw me
out of my land and country

May peace reign

May my star shine

May peace reign

May love live
May peace reign

May good guide us

May peace reign

Love will not die
Peace will not die

May justice drive us

May Boujemaa walk by our sides

May peace reign forever