The embodied voice: Thea Musgrave and Kui Dong

Below are two very different yet fantastic examples of perfomative choral music, and each brings entirely different musical and cultural influences to their work.  Thea Musgrave and Kui Dong are two of my favorite coposers who work in the avant-garde and yet ancient tradition of giving their musical performers performative cues as part of their musical score.  In works such as those below, these composers treat the physical presentation of the music as inseperable from the score itself, yet they present their works in a composed music setting as opposed to a theatrical or otherwise traditionally performative setting — to great effect.

Kui Dong (董葵, born 1966, Beijing, China) is a Chinese-American composer, musician, and teacher. She is known for her music which has often incorporated traditional Chinese music into contemporary contexts, and is currently Professor of Music at Dartmouth College.

Thea Musgrave(b. 27 May 1928) is a Scottishcomposer of opera and classical music.  In 1970 she became Guest Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a position which confirmed her increasing involvement with the musical life of the United States, where she has lived since 1972. She has received the Koussevitsky Award (1974) as well as two Guggenheim Fellowships (1974/5 and 1982/3). From 1987 to 2002 she was Distinguished Professor at Queen’s College, City University of New York. She holds honorary degrees from Old Dominion University (Virginia), Glasgow University, Smith College and the New England Conservatoire in Boston. In 2002 she was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

If the pain of love were not so pleasant

Adam de la Halle:

Se li maus c'amours envoie

This is the most beautiful song I've ever heard.  It was recorded by the group Sequentia — Barbara Thornton (voice), Benjamin Bagby (harp) — in 1984. The composer, Adam de la Halle, or Adam le Bossu (Adam "the hunchback") lived from 1285 and 1288.  Much of the notation of his music is lost or unclear, and requires active (re)interpretation.

If the pain of love

Were not so pleasant,

One could never suffer through it

For very long without taking the road

To despair, or worse.

But it is such pleasing pain, 

And Love is so gentle,

And is the source of such noble thoughts,

That, in truth, it can be Paradise

For those who love truly. 

The hope of the joy

Of seeing her,

And Love's amaible manners

Encourage every suitor to hope

That he will gain favor,

Provided he will be happy

And eager to serve,

Only hoping for the best,

For no one is suitably enamoured

Who has not this resolve.

I would not for anything in the world

Want to believe that a true lover

Could ever be inconsistent,

Or that he could shrink from sufferings;

Provided his heart and desires

Are ever inclined towards that smiling face,

Those sweet, loving eyes,

And the noble bearing,

And all the goodness, honor and worthiness

Which have made him a prisoner.

For this is what soothes and restores

Those who are most patient in love;

And this is what compels them to sing,

In the hopes that Humility will intercede in their favor.

No advantage is accorded to the bold

Who love only as they see fit,

But steadfast lovers always prosper,

Heedful of their tasks:

Mercy favors them.

My lady, if I thought that I would live

For one hundred thousand years.

And even if you were no longer living,

I could never think of another;

You have so utterly enchanted me

That there will never arise in me anything but joy

At that place where my pure and devothed thoughts

Are fixed. This is my suffering,

And I shall die possessed by it,

I am certain.

O sweet month of May or April,

I am barred from entering that sweet place.

See that my song gets sung

There, and is attended. 


Bhutan issued these phonographic stamps in 1973.  The first of their kind, the records contained recordings of folk songs, facts about the country and the Bhutanese national anthem.  They have adhesive backs for use as postage.  In 2008, Bhutan issued a CD-ROM stamp as an update to this design.




Caroline Quigley of Derry, age 7, was recorded in 1971 singing this famous little song from the early days of the "Troubles" in the six occupied counties of Ireland.  It stems from the bitter "Battle of Bogside" in Derry city when the residents of the Bogside (the main "nationalist" area) for three days successfully fought off the attempts of the Police to enter the neighbourhoods in 1969.  Her mother was Helen Quigley, a very fine singer and a well known member of the Republican Movement in Derry. This is a live recording made at The Bogside Inn in Derry at a special concert organised by members of the Official Republican Movement.

Flaming Tunes was a collaboration between Mary Currie and Gareth Williams, and was originally released on cassette in 1985.  The album was recorded after Gareth left This Heat in the early 1980’s and returned from the first of several trips to India.  Except for its initial release there has been no official edition of FT, although a bootleg CD from the late 1990’s included the tape in its entirety.  It was misleadingly described as "This Heat’s final demo recordings" which was a great cause of annoyance to Gareth.  He considered the Tunes album a deliberate attempt to create a music with a different mood and texture to the often harsh and uncompromising This Heat recordings, whilst giving full reign to his eclectic tastes and distinctive musical stylings.

The Tower Recordings were a group of friends in Brattleboro, Vermont. Revolving around Matt Valentine (featuring at times, PG Six, Helen Rush, Tim Barnes, Samara Lubelski, S. Freyer, Esq., Andre Vida and Dean Roberts), they were one of the more innovative groups bundled under the ever-growing umbrella of the psychedelic folk scene (or "New Weird America" as The Wire would have it). Although they have been largely overlooked in the wake of the bands who were better placed when the media began to take an interest, they’ve consistently been viewed by musicians and discerning fans alike as one of the psych-folk underground’s best kept secrets. With an encyclopedic knowledge of blues and folk traditions and a fascination with the avant-garde, they created a suitably far out sound filled with brittle acoustic picking and mind melting experimentation. The recordings often involved retiring to a suitably isolated and atmospheric location and playing with a tape rolling.  Gradually they folded, with Matt Valentine evolving and creating beautiful work under the MV & EE collective umberella.

The Books are an American duo, formed in New York City in 1999, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong. Their releases typically incorporate samples of obscure sounds and speech.They have released three critically acclaimed albums on the German label Tomlab, and recently released their fourth studio album, The Way Out, on Temporary Residence Limited. 

Movietone is an English post-rock band.  They formed in Bristol, England in 1994.  Core members are Kate Wright and Rachel Brook (now Rachel Coe).  Brook was also a member of Flying Saucer Attack during the first few years of the band's existence, and Wright is also currently the bass player for Crescent. Other musicians have included Matt and Sam Jones (both of Crescent), Matt Elliott (The Third Eye Foundation), Chris Cole, Florence Lovegrove, Ros Walford and Clare Ring.  2003's The Sand and The Stars was recorded almost entirely live on a beach. 

Ernst Reijseger (born November 13, 1954, Bussum) is a Dutch cellist and composer. He specializes in jazz, improvised music, and contemporary classical music and often gives solo concerts. He has worked with Louis Sclavis, Derek Bailey, Han Bennink, Misha Mengelberg, Gerry Hemingway, Yo-Yo Ma, Albert Mangelsdorff, Franco D'Andrea, Joëlle Léandre, Georg Gräwe, Trilok Gurtu, and Mola Sylla, and has done several world music projects working with musicians from Sardinia, Turkey, Iran, Senegal, and Argentina, as well as the Netherlands based group Boi Akih.  He has made numerous recordings, both as solo cellist and with other groups, and has been the subject of a documentary film. He has also written several film scores, including scores for two Werner Herzog films: The Wild Blue Yonder and Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Steady On Your Aim With The Petrol Bomb

A famous little song from the early days of the "Troubles" in the six occupied counties of Ireland. It stems from the bitter "Battle of Bogside" in Derry city when the residents of the Bogside (the main "nationalist" area) for three days successfully fought off the attempts of the Police to enter the neighbourhoods in 1969.

The song is performed here by Caroline Quigley of Derry, age 7 at the time of recording in about 1971. Her mother was Helen Quigley, a very fine singer and a well known member of the Republican Movement in Derry. This is a live recording made at The Bogside Inn in Derry at a special concert organised by members of the Official Republican Movement.


Steve Reich is an American composer who pioneered the style of minimalist music. His innovations include using tape loops to create phasing patterns (examples are his early compositions, "It's Gonna Rain" and "Come Out"), and the use of simple, audible processes to explore musical concepts (for instance, "Pendulum Music" and "Four Organs"). These compositions, marked by their use of repetitive figures, slow harmonic rhythm and canons, have significantly influenced contemporary music, especially in the US. Reich's work took on a darker character in the 1980s with the introduction of historical themes as well as themes from his Jewish heritage, notably the Grammy Award-winning Different Trains. Reich's style of composition influenced many other composers and musical groups. Reich has been described by The Guardian as one of "a handful of living composers who can legitimately claim to have altered the direction of musical history", and the critic Kyle Gann has said Reich " considered, by general acclamation, America's greatest living composer." On January 25, 2007, Reich was named the 2007 recipient of the Polar Music Prize, together with jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins. On April 20, 2009, Reich was awarded the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Music for his Double Sextet. (WIKIPEDIA)

South is an ambient, post-rock unit from Richmond, Virginia. Core band members include songwriters Patrick Phelan and Nathan Lambdin, along with percussionist Tod Parkhill, founder of the company that publishes Nothing Nice To Say. Musicians who have played a supporting role with the band include bassist Bryan Hoffa, Labradford contributor Peter Neff on hammered dulcimer, Jess Bittner on vibraphone, and either Via Nuon (Drunk, Bevel) or Rick Alverson (Drunk, Spokane) on keyboard. Their self-titled debut was released via Jagjaguwar, with recording help from The Technical Jed's Clancy Fraher, Brent Lambert (Carbon Leaf, Superchunk) and John Morand (Cracker, FSK). (WIKIPEDIA)

Abilene formed in 1998, and originally consisting of Alex Dunham on guitar and vocals, Scott Adamson behind drums, and bassist Craig Ackerman, they recorded and released a six-song slow-burner on the now-defunct Slowdime label. Before writing and recording Two Guns, Twin Arrows, Fred Erskine (June of '44, Hoover) joined to play trumpet, and the band evolved musically into something more dense, equally brooding, yet still ambient and subtle in nature.

The Mercury Program is an American musical group composed of Dave Lebleu on drums, Sander Travisano on bass guitar, Tom Reno on guitar, and Whit Travisano on vibraphone andpiano. They are based in Gainesville, FL. The first three members formed a trio in August 1997 and Whit Travisano joined in late 1999. The band members live in different cities across the United States. Their first two albums featured sparse, spoken vocals. However, with the release of the EP 'All the Suits Began to Fall Off' and onwards they become entirely instrumental. Their style is described as intricate and groove-led with many categorizing them as post-rock.After the release of 'Confines of Heat' in 2003, The Mercury Program took a much needed break. Then over the next several years they worked on new material in a much more relaxed manner. But in October 2006, the band got back together and recorded a new record with Andy Baker in Athens GA. This much anticipated new record, named "Chez Viking" was released November 24, 2009 on Lovitt Records. (WIKIPEDIA)

Beti Kamanga — no information available.From the album Nyasaland: Northern And Central Malawi, 1950 & 1957-58, SWP Records.

Arthur Russell (May 21, 1951 – April 4, 1992) was an American cellist, composer, singer, and disco artist. While he found the most success in dance music, Russell's career bridged New York's downtown, rock, and dance music scenes; his collaborators ranged from Philip Glass to David Byrne to Nicky Siano. Relatively unknown during his lifetime, a series of reissues and compilations have raised his profile in the 2000s. (WIKIPEDIA)


Tara Jane Oneil is an American multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, audio recording engineer, and visual artist based out of Portland, Oregon. O'Neil has collaborated with a diverse community of friends and advisers, scoring theater productions and short films, playing improvised shows, and working with dancers and painters. Her previous bands include Rodan, Retsin (with Cynthia Nelson), The Sonora Pine, The King Cobra, and Drinking Woman. She has played live and on recordings with Mount Eerie, The Naysayer, Come, Mirah, Ida, Sebadoh, Jackie-O Motherfucker, K., Michael Hurley, Papa M, and Amy Ray. Solo she has released several albums as Tara Jane O'Neil, formed the Ecstatic Tambourine Orchestra, and crafted soundtracks for film and theater.

Ólöf Arnalds is an Icelandicsinger/songwriter and indie musician who has been active within the Icelandic music scene for quite some time. Apart from doing her own music as of lately and being a touring member of Múm since 2003, she has cooperated with bands and artists such as Stórsveit Nix Noltes, Mugison, Slowblow and Skúli Sverrisson. Between 1988 and 2002 Ólöf studied violin and classical singing, and in 2002-2006 she studied composition and new media at Iceland Academy of the Arts. In 2007 her debut album Við Og Við was released by 12 Tónar. The album features a set of songs performed mostly in a traditional troubadour style.

Adam de la Halle, also known as Adam le Bossu (Adam the Hunchback) (1237?-1288) was a French-born trouvère, poet and musician, whose literary and musical works include chansons and jeux-partis (poetic debates) in the style of the trouveres, polyphonic rondel and motets in the style of early liturgical polyphony, and a musical play, "The Play of Robin and Marion", which is considered the earliest surviving secular French play with music. He was a member of the Confrérie des jongleurs et bourgeois d'Arras.

Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French Late-Romantic composer, organist, conductor, and pianist, known especially for The Carnival of the Animals, Danse macabre, Samson and Delilah, Piano Concerto No. 2, Havanaise, Introduction and Rondo capriccioso, and his Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony).

Edvard Grieg was a Norwegian composer and pianist who composed in the Romantic period. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play Peer Gynt (which includes Morning Mood and In the Hall of the Mountain King), and for his collection of piano miniatures Lyric Pieces.

Arvo Pärt is an Estonian composer and one of the most prominent living composers of sacred music. Since the late 1970s, Pärt has worked in a minimalist style that employs a self-made compositional technique called tintinnabuli. His music also finds its inspiration and influence from Gregorian chant.


Marcel Duchamp was a French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Duchamp's output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art. He advised modern art collectors, such as Peggy Guggenheim and other prominent figures, thereby helping to shape the tastes of Western art during this period.Duchamp’s first musical work, Erratum Musical, is a score for three voices derived from the chance procedure. During a New Year’s visit in Rouen in 1913, he composed this vocal piece with his two sisters, Yvonne and Magdeleine, both musicians. They randomly picked up twenty-five notes from a hat ranging from F below middle C up to high F. The notes then were recorded in the score according to the sequence of the drawing. The three vocal parts of Erratum Musical are marked in sequence as "Yvonne," "Magdeleine" and "Marcel." (Duchamp replaced the highest notes with the lower ones in order to make the piece singable for a male voice.) The words that accompanied the music were from a dictionary’s definition of "imprimer" - Faire une empreinte; marquer des traits; une figure sur une surface; imprimer un scau sur cire (To make an imprint; mark with lines; a figure on a surface; impress a seal in wax). Duchamp’s first musical work, Erratum Musical, is a score for three voices derived from the chance procedure. During a New Year’s visit in Rouen in 1913, he composed this vocal piece with his two sisters, Yvonne and Magdeleine, both musicians. They randomly picked up twenty-five notes from a hat ranging from F below middle C up to high F. The notes then were recorded in the score according to the sequence of the drawing. The three vocal parts of Erratum Musical are marked in sequence as "Yvonne," "Magdeleine" and "Marcel." (Duchamp replaced the highest notes with the lower ones in order to make the piece singable for a male voice.) The words that accompanied the music were from a dictionary’s definition of "imprimer" - Faire une empreinte; marquer des traits; une figure sur une surface; imprimer un scau sur cire (To make an imprint; mark with lines; a figure on a surface; impress a seal in wax).

Thea Musgrave is a Scottish composer of opera and classical music. Rich and powerful musical language and a strong sense of drama have made Scottish-American composer Thea Musgrave one of the most respected and exciting contemporary composers in the Western world.  Her compositions were first performed under the auspices of the British Broadcasting Corporation and at the Edinburgh International Festival. As a result her works have been widely performed in Britain, Europe and the USA, and at the major music festivals, such as Edinburgh, Warsaw Autumn, Florence Maggio Musicale, Venice Biennale, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham and Zagreb; on most of the European and American broadcasting stations; and on many regular symphony concert series. "Black Tambourine", on six poems of Hart Crane, is performed as a continuous 18 minute span. The cycle captures the wide range of moods of the poetry, from the madrigal-like trio of ‘Pastoral' to the tinkling salon piano of "My Grandmother's Love Letters".

Camberwell Now were formed in London in 1982 after the demise of This Heat featuring one of the founders of that group, drummer and vocalist Charles Hayward, bassist and vocalist Trefor Goronwy, who had joined This Heat to replace Gareth Williams after the latter had quit the band, and This Heat's former sound technician Stephen Rickard, who brought the studio to the stage with the revolutionary and possibly unique "tape switchboard".  In all, the band released one album, The Ghost Trade, two 12" EPs, MeridianGreenfingers, two tracks for the Sub Rosa Myths/Instructions album and a track for the Touch audio cassette/magazine. Most of this material was later reissued in CD form as All's Well by RecRec Music in 1992, and this compilation was remastered and reissued in November 2006 by ReR Megacorp.

June of 44 is s an American rock band which was formed in 1994 from ex-members of Rodan, Lungfish, Rex, and Hoover. The band's music is often described as 'math rock'.  The band's name refers to June Miller, wife of author Henry Miller.  The band toured extensively and reached as far as Australia. Often referred to as the punk rock pirates of the math rock world, June of 44 were a collective from 1994–2000. All the members were living in different cities at the time. Often cited for their artistic hand crafted record packaging, June of 44 had six releases in as many years before members went on to form HiM, The Sonora Pine, Shipping News and Rachel's. This seminal band created music that ranged from experimental jazz to ambient dub to angular post punk.

A Minor Forest was a San Francisco-based math rock band in the 1990s. They were musically related to the Louisville scene of post rock groups like Slint and had personal connections to the San Diego scene of Three Mile Pilot and related bands. Their songs had pop music, progressive rock, and punk rock influences and featured changing time signatures, sudden dynamic changes, silent pauses, unintelligible screaming, catchy, repeating melodic passages and absurd, in-joke titles. Their slogan was "A Minor Forest Supports the Destruction of Mankind." They formed in San Francisco in 1992 and, in addition to other smaller releases, put out three albums: Flemish Altruism (1996) and Inindependence (1998) on Chicago label Thrill Jockey, and So, Were They in Some Sort of Fight? (1999), a career-spanning compilation on My Pal God records. They played their last show on November 1, 1998 at Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

The Swords Project was formed in late 1999 in Portland, Oregon. Under this moniker, they released an ep, 2001’s The Swords Project, which was followed two years later by their only full-length album, Entertainment Is Over If You Want It. In 2003, the band shortened their name to Swords. In 2006, the band announced they would be breaking up.


VOICEsVOICEs is a two piece from Los Angeles, comprised of Jenean Farris and Nico Turner.  From their MySpace page: "VOICEsVOICEs create a sempiternal space filled with sounds and imagery that defy what they've been taught, and challenge what you know. A captivating experiment where two drummers, knowing nothing of the machines and instruments they chose to adopt, construct such hauntingly beautiful music, they awaken even your most subconscious dreams and aversions. A sort of existential realization can occur when these two lovely girls envelope you in their rapturous style of melodic, and at times, rough soundscapes."

Dirty Projectors are a Brooklyn-based experimental rock band led by Dave Longstreth. They have released seven full-length albums through 2010. The band currently consists of Longstreth along with Amber Coffman (vocals, guitar), Angel Deradoorian (vocals, keyboard, samples, guitar, bass), Brian McOmber (drums), Nat Baldwin (bass), and Haley Dekle (vocals). This collaboration with David Byrne is from the Red Hot compilation Dark Was The Night.

The Supremes, an American female singing group, were the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s.  This Italian version of "You Can't Hurry Love" comes from the recently reissued double album "Motown Around the World," a collection of Motown's greatest stars struggling to sing classic soul hits in foreign languages.

Molobali Traoré was born on the Niger river in Macina, and a strong defender of the traditions of the Ségou region. Contrary to many artists of her stature she refused to move to the capital Bamako, and instead settled with her husband in Niono. Ironically it was in Bamako where she died of typhoid on September 16, 2009, at the age of only 43. She leaves behind a husband and two children.  Although she hardly performed outside of the Niono cercle, she was very popular in the whole of Mali. Her songs were mostly moral, directed at the common Malian. If she was a griot, she was a griot of the common man. The heroes of her songs were farmers, workers of the land.

The Booksare an American music duo, formed in New York City in 1999, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong. Their releases contain a combination of electronic music and folk, typically incorporating samples of obscure sounds and speech. They have released three critically-acclaimed albums on the German label Tomlab, and are currently preparing for the release of their latest studio album, The Way Out.

Gareth Williams was a British musician best remembered as the bassist and vocalist for the experimental rock group This Heat, and his project with Mary Currie, Flaming Tunes.  From the Flaming Tunes website: "This was a track made by Gareth during the period after the release of the original FT cassette. Again it is built on a fairly cerebral, even mechanical base, with a repeating arpeggio and a descending figure over 12 bars, but the ease of the melody, the humour in the lyrics and the passion of delivery lift it into being one of his most effective songs."

Playlist 02: Spring

The Twilight Sad is a band from Kilsyth, Scotland, comprising James Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane (guitar) and Mark Devine (drums). The band have released two full-length albums. Their 2007 debut, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, drew widespread critical acclaim, while their second album, Forget the Night Ahead, was released in 2009. 

This Heat was a British experimental music group formed in early 1976 in Camberwell, London by multi-instrumentalists Charles Bullen (guitar, clarinet, viola, vocals, tapes), Charles Hayward (drums, keyboards, vocals, tapes) and Gareth Williams (keyboard, guitar, bass, vocals, tapes).

Mormos was a Prog Folk / Progressive Rock band from the United States that moved to France and put out two albums, MAGIC SPELL OF MOTHER'S WRATH, and Great Wall of China in 1970 an 1971, respectively.

Izenzaren was founded in Morocco at the end of the Sixties was among the first groups to modernize and radicalize the Amazigh song. They are widely known and respected for their adaptation of the banjo to their brand of experimental (and sometimes psychadelic) derivations of tradional Amazigh music. Their first album was recorded in 1974, and having changed members numerous times since, they still exist in a modified form today.

Lunar Aurora is pure Bavarian black metal. Aran and Whyrhd formed Lunar Aurora in December 1994. The band is now on indefinite hiatus since the end of 2006. There will be no interviews, concerts, or any other statements.

Playlist 01

Aria Orion is a new project from composer and performer Jules Gimbrone, weaves mystical tales with experimental arrangements, orchestral dramatics, and soulful melodic phrasing

Krzysztof Penderecki (born November 23, 1933 in Dębica) is a Polish composer and conductor of classical music.

Linda Perhacs is an American psychedelic folk singer, who released her only album Parallelograms in 1970 to scant notice or sales.

Paysage D'Hiver is an Ambient black metal band from Berne, Switzerland, formed in 1997. The sole member is Wintherr (Tobias Möckl, also of Darkspace. Wintherr is a mix between "Winter" and "Herr",Lord of Winter).

Rachel's is an American band that formed in Louisville, Kentucky in 1991. Technology Is Killing Music is an EP released on Three Lobed Recordings in 2005, and contains a single 18-minute track.


Izenzaren is a Moroccan Amazigh band founded in 1972 by six musicians. Characterized by a raw and hypnotic sound based on traditional berber music featuring virtuostic banjo playing, heavy drumming and lo-fi production, Izenzaren is still present in the musical scene appearing at numerous festivals and cultural gatherings in Morocco and other countries.  While it is at this point very difficult to find information or translations about the band in English, I can only hope that with the current wave of interest in other Amazigh and Saharan bands (such as Tinariwen) they  will eventually gain the recognition they deserve.

From the liner notes of "Legends of Berber Music":

In the field of Amazigh (Berber) music, the experience of the group Izenzarn presents certain characteristics. The emergence of this group occurred in the general context of the social changes in the post-colonial Morocco. The emigration (rural migration in the Moroccan sociological terminology) became an irreversible phenomenon.

The rural society settles in the town and is confronted at the same time with the violent process of integration and assimilation and with the social problems resulting from the arbitrary management of country by the makhzenian Mafia. This situation requires the invention of new forms of poetico-musical expressions (or the adaptation of the old forms) to express at the same time the nostalgia of the origins and the anger towards the abusive policies. Also, at this times, Anglo-Saxon musical groups (such as the Beatles) as well as Moroccan groups (Nass el Ghiwan, Jil Jilala, etc.) impose their rhythms and influence the development of musical groups known as popular. Mixing modern and traditional instruments, these groups interpret songs, inspired by the ancestral tradition or expressing the current sensibilities of a generation coming from the first wave of the rural emigrants.

Founded at the end of the Sixties by a group of young people from newly urbanized families, Izenzarn is among the first Amazigh groups to modernize and radicalize the Amazigh song. After tribulations under different names, a first album is recorded in the year 1974. Thus starts the first season of the group, characterized by love songs such as: Wad ittemuddun (traveler), Wa zzin (Oh! beauty), etc, or nostalgic and traditional songs: Immi Henna (My gracious mother)... In the beginning of the Eighties, Izenzarn embraces more protesting themes: ttuzzalt (dagger), ttâbla (plate), tamurghi (grasshoppers)...

The protest in Izenzarn's songs is characterized by the challenge of the dominant speeches:

Iggut lebrîh idrus may sellan igh islêh
Plenty of speeches And yet Nobody listens to the reason

and the harsh description of the reality:

Nettghwi zun d teghwi tmmurghi gh igenwan ikk d lhif akal
We are like grasshoppers taken between the skies and the dry grounds.

This reality is a world of fear, oppression and torture [tawda gh will ugharas (fear in the paths), izîtti wuzzal (iron bars), ur nemmut ur nsul (neither alive nor dead)]

The success of the group is due to its strange musical style and the poetry of its songs that presented already at the end of the Seventies the germs of a revolution in the modern Berber poetic creation.

After a disagreement, the group had split. Two groups dispute the name: Izenzarn Iggut Abdelhadi and Izenzarn Shamkh. But, it is the first one that imposed itself due to the emblematic image of its main singer, Iggut Abdelhadi.