RU  UK  EN
Articles  >  Imagine  >  Food for hearing: kind regards from Ethiopia

Food for hearing: kind regards from Ethiopia

Author: 08.08.2014 | music, traditions, Africa
African music is fettered by checkered stereotypes thickly as hyleas situated in the same place are covered with lianas. The reality, however, is that in skillful hands anything can tune up in variations of overtones. These were the motives that originated in hot tropics that influenced establishment of bands all over the world.

The most common misconception is that as centuries went by peoples of the hottest continent managed to master only the most primitive ways of extracting sounds. Some say, as opposed to developed Europe and a perfectly up-to-date America they still remain on the level of eccentric amateurs. Thus on hearing combination of words “Africa” and “music” most people picture unpretentious shape of a drum. 

Greater part of African musical instruments can be tagged with everybody’s word of choice: “handmade”. The thing that an average German or Frenchman would trifle with and throw to a tray, on the other continent can play and sound as colorful and surrounding as a piece from a symphony orchestra perfomance. And, as we understand, it is far from being a complement towards European snobbery. Wood, metal, tusks and fangs, skin, corns of wild animals and reptiles; osier, clay, bamboo, switch grass and corn stalks, cane as well as dried out baobab and pumpkin fruits and seeds, coconut shuck – and this only a partial list of things with which one can later on play music.

Some representatives of African musical instruments look so extravagant that are not immediately distinguishable against surrounding tropical scenery (image 01). For instance a so called terrene bow is in fact a bent body of a small tree with a cord of convolute fibers in the upper part. A stone, a piece of wood or barque is affixed to the lower part of a makeshift string, it is later on dipped into a hole dug in the ground. In this case it serves as a simple soundboard. In northern Ghana and Uganda this instrument usually performs a role of a child’s play but it is also used by adults for ceremonial reasons. Similar way of extracting sound is used by Mbuti pigmys from Ituri forest (north-west of the former Zaire). Music, or better still to call it musical rhythmic pattern, is created by means of a special “drum” dug in the ground and wrapped in fells.

Admittedly, it would not be entirely correct to describe African tunes and instruments only in contrast to and with emphasis on what is different from our canons. Authentic musical traditions brought to the New World together with slaves had an impact on development of music of the USA and a number of countries such as Cuba, Brasil and Haiti. Otherwise blues and Negro Spirituals would have no chance to be born. Nowadays similar ethnic African color called ‘world music’ is used with enthusiasm by many Indie, soul and funk ensembles. One can hear the sound of mbira or kalimba (African manual piano) not only in latitudes of Central Africa and Antilles but also in tracks of musicians performing on tour around the USA. Perfect example to the point is Earth, Wind & Fire funk band.

Гребенщиков.pngLeader of a Russian rock band Boris Grebenshchikov is also no stranger to African aesthetics (he is holding kalimba in the picture). 

As opposed to melodic component of tropical tunes it is worth keeping an eye on its contrariety that is music for messaging and ceremonial tunes for entrancement. For instance, regional festival of dancing and singing in the city of Arba Minch in the south of Ethiopia might come as a shock to any melomane. Participants of this “Afrovision”, in addition to representatives of a more conservative approach in this respect, local peoples of Dorzo, Diratie, Gamo and Gidole, are flutists from Dirashe (one of the regions of the abovementioned country). Their ensemble of 15 musicians performs dire cacophony on their musical instruments. It is by definition built on sheer dissonances. Musicians extract sounds in turn and sort of with overlap, gradually building up the air and rising general sounding. Say what you will, but art theorists, having visited the event, would have got much food for thought (non-tempered melody, it only remotely resolves into sol-fa sharp-re) and all the others at least food for hearing. Amusing, curious but the one that is hard to digest. Here, make sure for yourself:

It will be interesting:
On the Move. Street food from around the world. Part 2
Do you happen to get hungry? That is great as we go on with our story about the most popular street food from around the world. It’s freshly cooked - fall to, you guys!
Azerbaijan inside out: Henna Nights
We continue publishing author’s column of Sabina Safarova on traditions of Azerbaijan.We have already learned about the matchmaking and the engagement, and now OUTLOOK proposes to plunge into the traditions of rituals and xinayaxdi – henna nights ceremonies which precedes the wedding itself.
On the Move. Street food from around the world
Experienced tourists believe that one of the best sure-fire ways to quickly tune into the beat of another culture is to try local food. In order not to be at a loss when choosing dishes and save precious time for spiritual food, Outlook gives you selective advice on street gastronomy from seven spots of the globe.
Duduk: music evocating love
This music is one and a half thousand years. Gentle and penetrating melodies played on the flute duduk have been called ‘the voice of eternity’. In Armenia where people esteem national motives believe that in duduk there is a soul of apricot tree what made tree sound. Staying plangent and soul-touching, they are framed with the sound evocating light wistfulness.
Desperate Futurism: Japan. Part 1
OUTLOOK journalist Elena Rasenko came back from Japan and launches a special series of articles devoted to this country. Warning for very sensitive readers: Beware! After reading, you will get a keen desire to break away, buy a ticket and fly to such a marvelous and fascinating Land of the Rising Sun!
Video: Craft of Uzbekistan. Golden-stitched embroidery
OUTLOOK was lucky to visit hospitable Uzbekistan and get better acquainted with crafts of this amazing country. Today we'll tell you about art of golden-stitched embroidery that has long been considered the art of the nobility. We will tell you about mediums artisans use, secrets and unique distinctives of this craft. Feel the world with us!
Rwanda: Oh Africa, that’s Africa!
Despite the tragic past, not so long ago Rwandas shot a film called “Living Forgiveness” where they told how they live after a period of survival. The Civil War could not break them. Moreover, nowadays Rwanda, according to tourist standards, is catching up with Singapore. Can you believe in it? Then read the article asap!
Kano: Nigeria's oldest city
You had enough of boring and predictable touristy destinations, but you are not ready to dive headlong into dangerous adventures in the wild jungle? If yes, go to Nigeria! This civilized African region is amazing, but not frightening. In addition, it is a home to Nollywood - the biggest movies factory, to which even Hollywood is the second. Today we will tell you about Kano, the oldest city in Nigeria.
SPECIAL PROJECT: The Ambassadors tell about New Year's and Christmas traditions
All over the world, winter brings bright celebrations to people's homes, the traditions of how to celebrate them are born. The customs of one state differes from the other but people from different corners of the planet are equally waiting for miracles, pleasant surprises and a good fairy tale. On the eve of the New Year holidays, we decided to ask the diplomats about the peculiarities of New Year and Christmas celebrations in their countries.
Tea empire of the world
Few of us, while our favourite tea is steeping, are scrutinizing about the way this drink went through to get into our mug. Of course, stereotypically, we know that most likely it came from India or China, but in fact origin can vary. In the world there are about 30 countries which are very seriously engaged in tea business, and within this community a very clear hierarchy emerges, headed by the so-called Big Tea Seven.
Know us: DakhaBraha
Their song, Sho Z-Pod Duba, is featured in the Fargo series and the commercial with David Beckham, Thai schoolgirls teach Koliskov in a music lesson, and their concerts are eagerly awaited around the world. Continuing a series of inspirational stories about talented Ukrainians in the “Know Ours” column, Outlook tells about the most original, controversial and popular Ukrainian team “DakhaBrakha” abroad.
Amazons from tribe moco: conservation of feminism in the shadow of Himalayas
Composers of antiutopias predict hundreds of sorrows to the people of the future who are from times to times forbidden to celebrate weddings, however, it seems, everything is not so terrible. In Chinese province Yun Nan near the foot of Himalayas the matriarch tribe moco resides that is not familiar with the concept of marriage at all. In their language there are no words like 'husband' and 'wife', in the same time they do not know what it is to be 'jealous', stay in state of 'war' or experience 'betrayal', and they do not complain of their destiny.
Look at us, or Continuous music of Lubomyr Melnyk
The music as long as the eternity or, in other words, Continuous music is the genre which causes loud arguments in professional circles. Lubomyr Melnyk, Canadian composer of Ukrainian origination sees in his ‘child’ Continuous music continuation of classic traditions. Which rules his scripts follow will OUTLOOK tell in the following material of the rubrics ‘Look at us!’
Azerbaijan inside out: Small and big matchmaking
A Ukrainian woman with Azerbaijani blood Sabina Safarova respects her family roots and, being a member of the Union of Azerbaijani Youth in Ukraine, popularizes the culture of her country. Today, the story of a girl about one of the most interesting traditions of Azerbaijan - matchmaking, we are launching her author's blog, which will be filled with cognitive facts and subtleties of manners.
Gagauzians: Ethnos of white rooster
"A poor peasant lived in a remote Gagauzian village, and wealth of his was his three sons ..." so begins one of the folk tales composed by the Gagauz people. This Turkic people really lived a not wealthy life, roamed the villages, feed sheep... When a family gathered together to have some rest, old and young composed legends in their own way explaining the phenomena of nature noted by a curious and observant eye: why crows are afraid of people, why geese gabble, why an ant has thin waist, and what happens when you put fox and wolf in one harness.
Fado: gentleness and deftness of Portuguese romances
Twelve-string guitar, the twilight of Portuguese nights, candles, and soul-gripping voice… Dramatic incentives of fado song tell about unrequited love. It cannot appear in the crossroads of destinies; however, it enables feelings to embody into the touching sounds of Portuguese romances.
What do they eat: Rome’s cuisine
Outlook often tells about the kitchens of the peoples around the world, but when it comes to Italy, writing about the country should be a crime. Each of its twenty regions has its own culinary world with the subtleties and specialties. Let the title of gastronomic capital of Italy be Bologna, its official capital - Rome, too, has something to boast about. We are telling you what is remarkable about Roman cuisine and what dishes are worth trying in the Eternal City.
Crafts of Uzbekistan. Straw Items
OUTLOOK was lucky to visit hospitable Uzbekistan and get better acquainted with crafts of this amazing country. Today we tell you about art of straw work, about materials that craftsmen use and what secrets and unique features of this craft are. Feel the world with us!
Not Just Oil and Tourism: Safari from African Employers
In almost every large Ukrainian city – especially if it is “spoiled” with number of educational institutions – there is a small district called “campus” among locals. Dormitories, dining halls, libraries, university buildings here and there and… dark-skinned guys that exchange currency. This is the way students of Ukrainian high educational institutions earn a bit on the side and manage to obtain aspired degree at the same time. After that some of them stay and others go back home – to Africa. Now, what do people on the sunniest continent do, including those who return to native shores as “bankers” with dimplomas?
Everything on sale: Worlds's best markets and bazaars
In this day and age, it is difficult to surprise anyone, especially an urban resident, with some large department store or market, since nowadays one can buy everything from a humble convenience store next door. However, the iconic bazaars and flea markets are still operating across the globe, they are famous in legends and described with delight. Well-known is that they turn shopping into a cultural exchange and are much more than just a commercial place for the sale of goods.
Close
Outlook facebook page