skin, wood, string
: 45 cm
and Mediterranean Music Centre, Tunisia
It is a fine thing to be Tunisian and a music student at the Institute
of Music in Tunis but I never had an opportunity to learn about
the tabla "Tijania" in the past. It took a workshop that I attended
(where the aim was to create a virtual museum of musical instruments
for a project on the music of the Francophonie) for me to discover
it. Better late than never. But along with my friends from far
away (Canadian students), I actually discovered an instrument
that belongs to Tunisian religious groups which is quickly being
lost today. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the instrument
in the exhibition case (in the Erlanger Palace). I had to find
out more about this membranophone whose appearance is so similar
to its black African and other cousins.
plunge into the documentation provided by the Arab and Mediterranean
Music Centre revived my memory and I remembered my grandmother's
stories. While her memory has certainly faded, she can still recall
the essential facts.
are the followers of a mystic congregation in Tunisia whose patron
saint is Sidi -Ahmed Tijani. Women's groups in this congregation
have a special partiality for this instrument of theirs. It is
played in a very special way. Four women sit on the ground around
the tabla and play it together using their cupped hands.
Snoussi (1910-1967) a Tunisian musicologist, confirmed that no
other mystic or secular musical groups use an instrument similar
to the tabla.
its exclusive use by the "Tijani", the tabla has become a kind
of symbol of their order. It is used to accompany the singing
of the "Tijania" and set the cadence and rhythm. Will my quest
and my desire to know more about this instrument and the repertoire
of the "Tijania" stop here? I do not think so. On the contrary,
the desire to learn even more is so strong that it is becoming