Malhun (Arabic الملحون / ALA-LC: al-malḥūn), meaning "the melodic poem", is a form of music that originated in Morocco.[1] It is a kind of urban, sung poetry that comes from the exclusively masculine working-class milieu of craftsmen's guilds.

Music of Morocco
Specific forms
Regional music


The mǝlḥun first emerged as a pure literary creation, emerged as a poetic art today known in ]] under the name of "qasida" (meaning "poem") (Arabic: القصيدة) or "zajal" (Arabic: الزجل). It developed in the Tafilalet oases of western Morocco in the fifteenth century before it spread to other parts of the Maghreb.[1]

The Mal’aba (ملعبة الكفيف الزرهوني) is considered to be the oldest known form of the Malhun, dating 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 Darija, it represents 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 (qṣīda in [[Algerian 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 drīdka (Arabic: الدريدكة) is a simplified form of the harba, taking off from an accelerated rhythm to announce the end of a qasida.[2]

Famous figuresEdit

Among the former authors of melhun, there is Abdelaziz al-Maghrawi and Abderrahman El Majdoub (died 1568) who was famous for his mystical quatrains. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Morocco saw a great number of poets who, whether from Fez, Meknes or Marrakech, spread popular poetry using the melhun. Examples are Kaddour El Alamy and Thami Midaghri.

In modern days, prominent figures include Haj Houcine Toulali,[3] and Zohra Al Fassiya.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Mounira Soliman, Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook, p.58 (Routledge 2013) – ISBN 9780415509725
  2. ^ Jan Laurens Hartong, Musical Terms Worldwide: A Companion for the Musical Explorer, p.157 (Semar Publishers Srl, 2006) – ISBN 9788877780904
  3. ^ Saïd El Meftahi, Houssein Toulali, le chantre du Melhoun, ou une vie entière dédiée à l'Art,, Oct. 13th 2005
  4. ^ Siham Jadraoui, Hommage à la grande chanteuse Zohra El Fassia, Aujourd'hui Le Maroc, Oct. 12th 2009 (archive on

External linksEdit