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Malhun (Arabic الملحون / ALA-LC: al-malḥūn), meaning "the melodic poem", is a form of music originated in Morocco that borrows its modes from the Andalusian music. It is a kind of urban, sung poetry that comes from the exclusively masculine working-class milieu of craftsmen's guilds.
The mǝlḥun first emerged as a pure literary creation, emerged as a poetic art today known in Morocco under the name of "qasida" (meaning "poem") (Arabic: القصيدة) or "zajal" (Arabic: الزجل). It developed in the Tafilalet oases of southern Morocco in the fifteenth century before it spread to other parts of the Maghreb.
The Mal’aba (ملعبة الكفيف الزرهوني) is considered to be the oldest known form of the Malhun, it dates back to the Marinid dynasty era (14th century), The Mal’aba describes the union’s attempt of the Maghreb by the sultan Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Othman, written in Moroccan arabic, it represent the origins of the modern Malhun, Ibn khaldun, mentions it at the end of his Muqaddimah as one of the main lyrical epics of the art called "Mala'ib" (ملاعب).
The qasida (ləqṣid in Moroccan arabic) of the malhun is based on two essential elements: the overtures preceding it and the parts of which it is composed. Aqsam (Arabic: الأقسام) verses sung solo interrupted by the harba refrain (meaning launch) (Arabic: الحربة). Harba, the origin of which goes back to the 16th century, is a refrain taken up between the verses. Another refrain called dridka (Arabic: الدريدكة) is a simplified form of the harba, taking off from an accelerated rhythm to announce the end of a qasida.
Among the former authors of melhoun, there is Abdelaziz al-Maghrawi and Abderrahman El Majdoub (died 1568) who was famous for his mystical quatrains. In 18th and 19th centuries, Morocco knew a great number of poets who, from Fez, Meknes or Marrakech spread popular poetry who adopted the melhoun. Examples are Kaddour El Alamy and Thami Midaghri.
- Mounira Soliman, Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook, p.58 (Routledge 2013) - ISBN 9780415509725
- Jan Laurens Hartong, Musical Terms Worldwide: A Companion for the Musical Explorer, p.157 (Semar Publishers Srl, 2006) - ISBN 9788877780904
- Saïd El Meftahi, Houssein Toulali, le chantre du Melhoun, ou une vie entière dédiée à l'Art, yabiladi.com, Oct. 13th 2005
- Siham Jadraoui, Hommage à la grande chanteuse Zohra El Fassia, Aujourd'hui Le Maroc, Oct. 12th 2009 (archive on maghress.com)