Showing posts with label religious. Show all posts
Showing posts with label religious. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Jossy Kassa - Teneshina Abrie, Vol. 2 [2010] [ethiopia]

Jossy Kassa - Athidibgn

Jossy Kassa - 01 - Teneshina Abrie (5:52)
Jossy Kassa - 02 - Alebegn Tezeta (7:03)
Jossy Kassa - 03 - Getea Kegna Gare (5:46)
Jossy Kassa - 04 - Tew Belew Enge (6:24)
Jossy Kassa - 05 - Menore Alchelem (6:06)
Jossy Kassa - 06 - Weletaw Alebegn (6:04)
Jossy Kassa - 07 - Geze Alew Lehulu (8:00)
Jossy Kassa - 08 - Fetognalena (6:12)
Jossy Kassa - 09 - Medehanialem (5:48)
Jossy Kassa - 10 - Altewem Mamesgen (5:48)
Jossy Kassa - 11 - Eyerusalem (5:49)
Jossy Kassa - 12 - Eyesus (5:46)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna [ethiopia]

   R  E  U  P  L  O  A  D   

           Mezmur are the religious songs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Mezmur is the Amharic term for music, although it often has a religious connotation. Other religious groups also use the term, which is in contrast with zafan, or secular music.

             The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian churches in Africa, and it dates to pre-colonial times. As of 2015, it has between 40 and 45 million members. It has also spread outside Ethiopia, with many branches in the United States and other countries where Ethiopian immigrants have settled.

Tewahedo orthodox mezmur

        It has a rich musical tradition, referred to as mezmur. Mezmur plays an important part in church services, including a detailed liturgy divided into two parts and 14 sub-parts known as anaphoras. These fixed songs undergo few changes.

           Mezmur can also refer to hymns, which are more innovative, and the church continues to accept and use new hymns. These are more free-form songs of praise. Many Ethiopians take great pride in their music and strive to create beautiful songs as a sign of devotion.

      Mezmur is not purely Ethiopian Orthodox. It can refer to any religious song. The P'ent'ay, or Ethiopian protestants, also use the term mezmur. The P'ent'ay can include Pentecostals, Baptists, Mennonites and many others.


                 O Goyta Selam

Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Mezmur 

      The begena is an Ethiopian or Eritrean string instrument with ten strings belonging to the family of the lyre. According to oral tradition, Menelik I brought the instrument to the region from Israel, where David played on it to soothe King Saul's nerves and heal him of insomnia. Its actual origin remains in doubt, though local manuscripts depict the instrument at the beginning of the 15th century (Kimberlin 1978: 13).


   Known as the instrument of noblemen, monks and the upper class and performed by both men and women, the begena was used primarily as an accompaniment during meditation and prayer. Though commonly played in the home, it is sometimes played in the framework of festive occasions. During Lent, the instrument is often heard on the radio and around churches. Begena is accompanied by singing voice only. The singer may compose his or her own texts or they may be taken from the Bible, from the Book of Proverbs, or from the Book of Qine, an anthology of proverbs and love poems. Subject matter includes the futility of life, the inevitability of death, saints, mores, morality, prayer, and praises to God. The song's duration varies according to the text, the audience, and the persistence of the player. Though many texts are of a religious nature, the instrument is not used in the Ethiopian Orthodox church services, even if it is seen occasionally in religious processions outside the church.

      Because of the instrument's relatively intimate and sacred role in society, the begena is not common to find. Meditation and prayer are very private, personal endeavors, and hearsay suggests that the instrument is played by very few and is a dying art. However, in 1972, the Yared Music School in Addis Ababa began formal instruction in the begena. Since 2004, evening courses are organized and the begena is still played.

     The begena has ten strings. However, different musicians use varying numbers of strings to play the begena. For example, begena teacher Memhr Sisay Demissae uses all ten strings to play the begena, while other players may use five or six of the strings. The left hand is used to pluck the strings.

         When all ten strings are plucked, one method of tuning the begena is to tune each pair of strings to one of the pitches in a pentatonic scale. When using five of the stings, only the first, fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth strings are tuned and plucked to give sound. Finally, while playing the begena using six strings, the left hand plucks strings one, three, four, six, eight, and ten (starting from the left side when facing the instrument). The pointing finger plucks strings three and four while the other fingers are in charge of controlling one string each. The remaining strings are used for the finger rests or stops after the strings have been plucked, allowing the plucked string to vibrate.

         The begena may also be played using a system called girf, wherein a plectrum made of horn or wood is used to pluck the ten strings of the begena. Megabe Sebhat Alemu Aga plays begena both by using his fingertips and girf.

       The begena is characterized by a very specific buzzing sound, due to U-shaped leather pieces placed between each string and the bridge. The thong for each string is adjusted up or down along the bridge so that the string, when plucked, repeatedly vibrates against the edge of the bridge.

01. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 01 (5:55)
02. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 02 (6:29)
03. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 03 (4:48)
04. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 04 (7:00)
05. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 05 (6:03)
06. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 06 (6:06)
07. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 07 (5:54)
08. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 08 (6:30)
09. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 09 (5:20)
10. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 10 (7:01)

     for more mezmur songs visit        this site      

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Temesgen (Thanks to God) - Worship Songs from Ethiopia's Beta Avraham Jewish Community [2014] [ethiopia]

   R E U P L O A D    

             About three hundred years ago, a group of Jews left the Gonder area of Ethiopia to seek their fortunes in Ethiopia's North Shewa area and later in Addis Ababa, where they settled in the Kechene neighborhood. Like their Gonder cousins who have since migrated in large numbers to Israel, this group consisted mostly of craftsmen, known especially for their beautiful hand-built pottery and woven cloth. But as the years passed, times became difficult and beginning in the 18th century, they experienced periods of extreme repression.

        Eventually the community's leaders felt that the only way to survive was to go underground - literally. Much like the Anusim of medieval Spain and Portugal, they practiced Christianity on the outside while secretly following Judaism in hidden synagogues, often in caves that are located hours away by foot from the nearest town

            Fifteen of these secret synagogues still exist today, concentrated in the North Shewa area about 80 miles north of Addis Ababa. In the largest, called Mugar, about 300 men and women live permanently, their numbers swelling further at least twice a year when other community members join to commemorate their martyrs and celebrate their festivals. As with other Ethiopian Jews, their tradition consists only of pre-Talmudic practices.

         The elders believe that the caves will take you to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem). Sintayehu said that he and Demeke once walked for 15 minutes inside the Mugar synagogue-cave and there was no end. Their torch, a candle, eventually burned out.

        The traditional songs you hear in this album come from these secret synagogues, passed down from generation to generation.

          Within the last few years a group of young men emerged from this community and, thanks to Ethiopia's new constitution that guarantees freedom of worship, they decided to openly practice their religion once more. Much had been forgotten with regard to Jewish practice, but they opened a small synagogue in the Kechene neighborhood of Addis Ababa and learned anew. Although not yet recognized by the state of Israel as eligible for immigration under the Law of Return, in their songs they yearn for Jerusalem and for Israel - the land of their ancestors. Demeke and Sintayehu explain that this music, which the members sing after their regular Friday evening worship service, carries you spiritually to a different time and place. They are certainly right about that.

        All the singers on this album remember their grandmothers and grandfathers singing these traditional songs in the secret synagogues. Demeke ben Engda, who moonlights as a professional singer and regularly leads the Friday evening Sabbath worship service in Kechene, has composed several modern songs in the traditional style. (Another synagogue member, Daniel Desalegn Firku, is a part-time collaborator.) Yet all members realize that, with increased exposure to the outside world, the danger lurks that all these songs may become irrevocably lost or changed. Hence the decision to make this CD -- the first of its kind. We are grateful to everyone who contributed.

01 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Miseker (Witness) (6:56)
02 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - B'yerusalem (In Jerusalem) (5:05)
03 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Min Alu Dawit (What David Said) (4:04)
04 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Kiber New (It Is an Honor) (5:44)
05 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Senbet L'yuna (Sabbath Is Unique) (4:49)
06 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Temesgen (Thanks to God) (4:08)
07 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Zimare (Song) (4:18)
08 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Tesfaye (My Hope) (8:28)
09 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - B'bete Mekdes (Inside the Sanctuary) (4:59)
10 - Beta Avraham 'Kechene' Community - Tizazu Yemayishar (His Holy Commandments) (5:09)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Zerfu Demissie - Akotet: Songs of the Begena [2008] [ethiopia]

   R   E   U   P   L   O   A   D   

      In March 2001, Andy (also guitarist in The Ex) and I (Terrie Ex) were in Addis Abeba, checking out possibilities for The Ex to play some concerts in Ethiopia. But also to check out other music. There is so much amazing stuff there. One day, in the middle of the Mercato, we were struck by something that we had never heard before. Out of the street speaker of a little cassette shop, flowed a sound that was dark, heavy and serious, but also light, fragile and spiritual. We couldn't quite pin it down. We knew the great Ethiopiques 11 of Alemu Aga, but this was different. Slightly embarrassed at the fact that the shopkeeper had had to take the cassette out of the machine and that the street was suddenly silent, we bought the tape. It turned out to be Zerfu Demissie

        In March 2004, we organized a series of concerts in Holland called "An Ethiopian music night". The programme consisted of The Ex + Han Bennink, nine of the greatest Azmaris from Addis and Alemu Aga on the begena. Quite a contrasting line-up! In Ethiopia, the Azmaris and Alemu are from completely opposite sides of the musical spectrum. 

     The Azmaris' music is about drinking, politics, sex, dancing, jokes. Playing the begena, on the other hand, is rooted in meditation, concentration and prayer. Deeply devoted to the Orthodox Christian tradition, Alemu was in his fasting period during the tour, which for him meant an even stronger spiritual commitment and no meat and alcohol. He played his songs and right after, The Ex performed. A very different music from a very different background. But when we were finished, Alemu was there standing at the side of the stage, offering us some cold beers. This is not a rigid religion and culture. This is about people.

     We became more and more intrigued by Ethiopian music and culture. We were also intrigued by the begena, an instrument that dates back thousands of years; with its mesmerizing buzzing sound and its special role in the musical, sociological palette. There are the fascinating lyrics, sometimes hundreds of years old and occasionally very contemporary. At times biblical, at other times tapped from different sources. But all including this typical Ethiopian phenomenon known as "Wax 'n' Gold", the subtle poetry with double meaning, which is deciphered as an abstract art form.

     This music is unique to this worid. We had to find out more. August 2006, and we were back in Ethiopia. Jeroen took his mobile studio and Emma her camera. We were hoping to find Zerfu to make a recording with him. And we did find him. He agreed to the project, and a few days later, we recorded him in his empty bedroom at home. Beautiful! Enjoy the sounds within!

Terrie Ex - Wormer, November 2007

01. Zerfu Demissie - Alayenem Belu, Alsemanem Belu (5:42)
02. Zerfu Demissie - Degwawen Kitetut (5:41)
03. Zerfu Demissie - Arb Yetaredewn (8:05)
04. Zerfu Demissie - Ahadu Belo K'idus (8:32)
05. Zerfu Demissie - Arb, Rob, Inegedef (5:10)
06. Zerfu Demissie - Ne'i, Ne'i Kidane Mehret (6:29)
07. Zerfu Demissie - Efoy Ta'ageseke (4:48)
08. Zerfu Demissie - Sek'let (3:27)
09. Zerfu Demissie - Dingelim (4:01)
10. Zerfu Demissie - Esme Ante (2:46)
11. Zerfu Demissie - Godana (7:06)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

v.a. - Ethiopia : The Falasha & The Adjuran Tribe [FW04355,1975]


The tribal cultures of Eastern Africa, and in fact, the world, are fast disappearing. Within twenty years, Kenya will reach the take-off point of economic development, and by the turn of the century, foreign industrialization will transform the pastoral nomadic way of life in Northern Kenya and Soutbern Ethiopia into a 19th-Century midwestern town. The ties of the people with the land will be broken. A major highway will run through Central Ethiopia bringing tourists and money to a country which does not have enough water for its own people, whose lakes are polluted and infested by lethal worms which produce incurable intestinal disorders.

As the world reaches the 21st-Century, the Ethiopians may not have enough water to drink, much less to wash their clothes. Men in Adis now wear socks and shoes, the children wear paisley shirts, yet in the South, in the semi-desert conditions, life is still survival; the people live from one day to the next trading goods, bartering, and praying for rain for the harvest. The legends of the past are only preserved in song, and the wandering bards are rarely seen,as they work in the fields as much as fifteen hours a day. A medicine man 1s rare, because the spirit of the old religions and customs are not permitted to continue in a culture which is fast breaking its way into the Twentieth Century. Mythology 1s song in Ethiopia, and the song is the experience of life o As the animals die, the songs of the water-hole and the market disappear; the deeds of the warriors who fought the Turks and the Egyptians are silenced forever.



One of the last traditionally Hebraic tribes of Ethiopia, the Falashim live in Ambover, in a village about ten miles ~om Gondar. In order to reach the village, one must either walk seven miles from where the bus stops, or take a Landrover over cow pastures and farming lands, through small valleys and over small hills. Quiet people, the Falashim still worship in the same traditions as their ancestors did 2,000 years ago.

Speaking Geez, the ancient language from which Amhara, the national language of Ethiopia developed, the Falasha worship in a small hut without an altar.

The Kohnian, or prayers, are conducted by the leader, while the other m@mbers chant and singo Geez is also the language used by the Coptic Church for prayer, but at times Hebrew words are interspersed. The
Falasha people used to conduct the service entirely in Hebrew, but since the time of the Sudanese War in 1892, when the Hebrew books were
burned, they have been praying in Geez.

The Falasbim believe that in 586 the first exiles from Babylon came through Egypt to Ethiopiao There are still other conclaves or groups of isolated Falasha who live around Gondar, in the GoJjam Province, but their numbers are steadily decreasing because of intermarriages.

The Falashim or Falasha people migrated from a very substantial community in Jerusalem, during the l7th, l8th and 19th Centuries.

The combination of the Turkish seizure of the Ethiopian seaboard, the plague which ravaged Jerusalem in 1838, and the unacceptance of the Armenians who persecuted the new Turkish subjects, forced the Falashim to flee to their present location.

In Ambover, one of the centers of the Falasha, the people live around the school, which was built in 1970, yet it is not uncommon for a
villager to live on an ajoining hilltop. The Falashim children learn three languages in school: English, Amharic, and Hebrew. Atter they reach the age of fifteen, they must either be accepted by the university in Addis, or go to work in the fields. Extremely poor people, the Falasha depend on the land to survive, yet farming La difficult without machines. The chanting of the Falasha is the celebration of life, and was recorded 8/11/72. The ceremony has rarely been heard.


The Adjuran are a semi-nomadic group of wandering cattle herders who
live north of Isiolo, Kenya, and south of Dilla, Ethiopia, approximately a distance of 500 miles. The small, pastoral agricultural villages are along a road of tar, clay and dirt, which is sometimes non-existant in the mountains of the Maji Province o Part of the Garris Tribe, 'N'hich is Berber, these people make temporary shelters, trade, barter, and raise cattle. Their music is traditional; singers, dancers, religious nomads, Moslems, who raise their hands in trance-like dances, undulate their bodies, inhale/exhale short audible modulations of poly- rhythmic chanting. With their raised arms, the Adjuran hop together, lifting one foot, jumping three or four feet into the air, imitating their camels which graze a short distance awiay, licking a white powder from their hands.

Like the Garris, the Burgia, the Borana, the Adjuran also sing ot the camel, the King, the cow and the baby.The love of man for man is instinctual; it is revealed in the actions of the dance - the ritual play of the animal or man, even before there was speech. The King, Emperor Haile Selassie, is praised as a hero, for letting the people be free (not for letting them live in destitution).  Although the tribes are rounded up by the local police and ushered intothe villages for the ceremonial festivities of the Emperor's eightieth birthday, they do not regret coming because they are permitted to eat all the raw meat they can  the two-day celebration. Tedj, honey-mead beer, is abundant, and this is the event when camel herders arrive in Moyak to talk, love, reminisce, and barter their goods o The Borana come across the border from Kenya, and the Rindilla sine on the water barrels.

   Jewish Community in Gondar, Ethiopia   

01 - Members of the Falasha Tribe recorded in Ambover & Ethiopia - Falasha: The Complete Ceremony of Shabbat Shalom (24:15)

02 - Jella Madi, Hussien Hassen, Hurene Kyah, Abdi Ebrahim, Abdula Kenteno, Addulahe Aden, Gado Abdi & Ade - Camel Song (7:13)
03 - Jella Madi, Hussien Hassen, Hurene Kyah, Abdi Ebrahim, Abdula Kenteno, Addulahe Aden, Gado Abdi & Ade - Song of the King (5:46)
04 - Jella Madi, Hussien Hassen, Hurene Kyah, Abdi Ebrahim, Abdula Kenteno, Addulahe Aden, Gado Abdi & Ade - Cow Song (4:53)
05 - Jella Madi, Hussien Hassen, Hurene Kyah, Abdi Ebrahim, Abdula Kenteno, Addulahe Aden, Gado Abdi & Ade - Baby Song (5:46)

06 - Various Artists - Judiac Falasha (2:38)

v.a. - Ethiopia : Religious Music of the Falashas (Jews of Ethiopia) [FW04442,1951]

          This album features the religious music of Ethiopian Jews, known as Falashas. While most Falashas--and Ethiopians in general--speak Amharic, the tracks on this album are in Geez. 
         There is no evidence the Falashas have ever spoken Hebrew. Liner notes include photographs as well as a brief history and description of the Falasha culture.

   Falasha - Exile of the Black Jews Beta Israel   

Origins & History Of The Tribe of Falasha

Falashas, native Jewish sect of Ethiopia.The origin of the Falashas is unknown. One Falasha tradition claims to trace their ancestry to Menelik, son of King Solomon of Israel and the queen of Sheba. Some scholars place the date of their origin before the 2nd century BC, largely because the Falashas are unfamiliar with either the Babylonian or Palestinian Talmud. 

The Bible of the Falashas is written in an archaic Semitic dialect, known as Ge'ez, and the Hebrew Scriptures are unknown to them. The name Falasha is Amharic for "exiles" or "landless ones"; the Falashas themselves refer to their sect as Beta Esrael ("House of Israel"). 

The religion of the Falashas is a modified form of Mosaic Judaism unaffected generally by postbiblical developments.

The Falashas retain animal sacrifice. They celebrate scriptural and nonscriptural feast days, although the latter are not the same as those celebrated by other Jewish groups. 

One of the Falasha nonscriptural feast days, for example, is the Commemoration of Abraham. 

The Sabbath regulations of the Falashas are stringent.They observe biblical dietary laws, but not the postbiblical rabbinic regulations concerning distinctions between meat and dairy foods.

Marriage outside the religious community is forbidden.

Monogamy is practiced, marriage at a very early age is rare, and high moral standards are maintained. 

The center of Falasha religious life is the masjid, or synagogue. The chief functionary in each village is the high priest, who is assisted by lower priests. Falasha monks live alone or in monasteries, isolated from other Falashas. Rabbis do not exist among the Falashas.

The Falashas live either in separate villages or in separate quarters in Christian or Muslim towns, in the region north of Lake Tana. They are skilled in agriculture, masonry, pottery, ironworking, and weaving.

Under Haile Selassie I, a few Falashas rose to positions of prominence in education and government, but reports of persecution followed the emperor's ouster in 1974.

More than 12,000 Falashas were airlifted to Israel in late 1984 and early 1985, when the Ethiopian government halted the program.
The airlift resumed in 1989, and about 3500 Falashas emigrated to Israel in 1990. Nearly all of the more than 14,000 Falashas remaining in Ethiopia were evacuated by the Israeli government in May 1991.

The Falashas themselves say that they are direct descendants from the family of Abraham, the first Jew. Terah, Abraham's father,came from the land of Ur of the Chaldees which was located in the southern part of the Euphrates. 
The Chaldees were one of many Kushite tribes of the region and Kushite means Black according to the Bibical dictionary. The Kushites were descended from Kush a son of Ham.

Godfrey higgins,an English expert on antiquities stated in his book :
"The Chaldees were originally Negroes"

Falasha (or Beta Israel), a Jewish Hamitic people of Ethiopia who claim descent from Menelik I, the son of the queen of Sheba and King Solomon; have no knowledge of Talmud but use a Bible and a prayer book written in Ge'ez, the ancient Ethiopian language.

They follow Jewish traditions including circumcision, observing the Sabbath, attending synagogue, and following certain dietary and purity laws.

Recognized in 1975 by the Chief Rabbinate as Jews and allowed to settle in Israel.

In 1984-85 thousands of Falashas resettled to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan as part of the Israeli government's "Operation Moses" and the U.S. government's "Operation Sheba."


   Falasha! The Saga of Ethiopian Jewry Part 1   

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica

Alternative titles: Beta Israel; Felasha

Falasha, also spelled Felasha,  an Ethiopian of Jewish faith. The Falasha call themselves House of Israel (Beta Israel) and claim descent from Menilek I, traditionally the son of the Queen of Sheba (Makeda) and King Solomon. Their ancestors, however, were probably local Agau (Agaw, Agew) peoples in Ethiopia who were converted by Jews living in southern Arabia in the centuries before and after the start of the Christian Era. The Falasha remained faithful to Judaism after the conversion of the powerful Ethiopian kingdom of Aksum to Christianity in the 4th century ce, and thereafter the Falasha were persecuted and forced to retreat to the area around Lake Tana, in northern Ethiopia. Despite Ethiopian Christian attempts to exterminate them in the 15th and 16th centuries, the Falasha partly retained their independence until the 17th century, when the emperor Susenyos utterly crushed them and confiscated their lands. Their conditions improved in the late 19th and 20th centuries, at which time tens of thousands of Falasha lived in the region north of Lake Tana. Falasha men are traditionally ironsmiths, weavers, and farmers. Falasha women are known for their pottery.

The Falasha have a Bible and a prayer book written in Geʿez, an ancient Ethiopian language. They have no Talmudic laws, but their preservation of and adherence to Jewish traditions is undeniable. They observe the Sabbath, practice circumcision, have synagogue services led by priests (kohanim) of the village, follow certain dietary laws of Judaism, observe many laws of ritual uncleanness, offer sacrifices on Nisan 14 in the Jewish religious year, and observe some of the major Jewish festivals.

From 1980 to 1992 some 45,000 Falasha fled drought- and war-stricken Ethiopia and emigrated to Israel. The number of Falasha remaining in Ethiopia was uncertain, but estimates ranged to only a few thousand (see Researcher’s Note: Falasha migration to Israel, 1980–92). The ongoing absorption of the Falasha community into Israeli society was a source of controversy and ethnic tension in subsequent years.

   Falasha! The Saga of Ethiopian Jewry Part 2   

Unspecified - Prayer for Passover 01464A1    (1:36)
Unspecified - Prayer for New Year 0146A2    (1:20)
Unspecified - Prayer for Passover 01464B1    (1:46)
Unspecified - Prayer "Adonai" for Saturday 0146B2    (2:24)
Unspecified - Prayer of Absolution 01465A1    (3:03)
Unspecified - Prayer "Adonai" for Weekdays 01465A2    (2:25)
Unspecified - Responsive Reading 01465B    (2:26)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

v.a. - Ethiopia - Bagana Songs (Éthiopie Les chants de bagana) [2006] [ethiopia]


The disc recorded by Stephanie Weisser between March 2002 and December 2005 in Addis Ababa is the fourth CD of traditional Ethiopian music in the backup program intangible heritage of this country, "Ethiopia: Traditional music, dance and instruments , a systematic survey "led by Olivier Tourny. Indeed, following the disk Polyphonies Ari published by Ocora (Fournel 2002) as well as two discs of Unreleased collection of Maale Music (Ferran 2005) and 'aqwaqwam (Damon 2005), Stephanie Weisser shows us one of three famous Ethiopian chordophones the bagana, it has specifically studied in his thesis.

Alemu Aga - "Besmeab - Abatachin Hoy"
 playing the Begenna, the Harp of David from Ethiopia


The disc echoes of hope for the revival of the instrument in Ethiopia for the interest of its author for bagana, which was endangered in Addis Ababa, allowed its rehabilitation and the foundation of schools and transmission structures while promoting the creativity of musicians, since all the compositions on this disc are original. It also pays tribute to the greatest performers of Ethiopian bagana, including Tafese Tesfaye (tracks 1 and 2) between deceased time.


Recordings that Stephanie Weisser introduces us was collected in Addis Ababa among the performers themselves, which reports to a tour de force in this large African capital where the activity never stops and where is hard to find a silent place. The extensive research that the author has synthesized here illuminates the amateur as professional, who may be interested in the specifics of sound bagana. Indeed, the leaflet, synthetic and clear, in French and English, allows to approach the musical characteristics of bagana songs, their formal structure, rhythm that underlies them, the contents of the texts or vocal techniques specifically associated with these religious songs.


The first piece, the listener is swept away by the individual sound bagana, big ten-stringed lyre whose sizzling character is the result of adding leather pieces between the strings and the bridge, but also by the vocal stamp both soft and veiled that seeks to mimic that of the instrument. On this disc tour de force also lies in its ability to make sensitive to both the emotional power of the songs of bagana and intimate character. Indeed, the live performance of songs by Alem Marefia Na'at Alemu Aga (track 9) or of Sebsebo by Yetemwork Mulat (track 8) is very moving. The quality of the recordings and the balance between voice and bagana are very successful and music acts on us as if the interpreter was facing us. This emotional capacity bagana songs is also recognized in Ethiopia, and it contributes to their specificity. Thus, any provision of Alemu Aga brings tears of auditors and participates in a form of collective devotion.


The wealth of different facets of bagana songs highlighted in this record gives it a special interest. Indeed, six performers follow one another, with two compositions each, giving a glimpse of their dexterity and their vocal timbres. In addition, two female performers, Gebre Yesus Sosenna and Yetemwork Mulat, highlight the rare successes of women in the interpretation of traditional music Ethiopian, who often remain the prerogative of men.


ON also noted the diversity of instrumental timbres, including the difference between the instrument of Tafese Tesfaye (tracks 1 and 2), whose sound box is made entirely of wood, and that of Alemu Aga (tracks 9 and 10), the soundboard is skin.


The professional master of Alemu Aga, the most famous master of bagana, known worldwide thanks to the disk 11 of the Ethiopiques collection, is also highlighted in this record because we propose two techniques for game. Exhibit 9 is interpreted bare hand and begins with the traditional invocation before the first song of the provision: "In the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen." Exhibit 10 is against extremely rare since it involves playing with plectrum (megrafia) goat horn. This technique is extremely difficult endangered and only Alemu Aga practice yet. It is therefore interesting to compare the two game modes to capture the virtuosity of mixed game.


The variety of musicians playing techniques contributes to the interest of this disc. It may well linger compared virtuosity and technical skill of the masters of the instrument are Tafese Tesfaye, Alemu Aga and with the game slower but still very expressive women (tracks 3, 4, 7 and 8) or even with the strong play of young Abiy Seyoum (track 5 and 6).


Enfin, the last piece on this disc gives us an original interpretation since it involves a chorus of two deacons, which is extremely rare for bagana songs which are, as the disk we heard, very intimate. Moreover, this final piece, Manimeramere, has many vocal ornaments similar to those of the Ethiopian Orthodox song or secular pieces of azmari, the troubadours of this country.


To his faculties to make us travel to unveil a part of the Amhara imagination to move us and also, in some way, to elevate our soul, this drive is to listen. However, it would have been interesting to see the whole texts in Amharic accompanied by a translation in order to highlight the particular taste of Ethiopians for word games and semantics research. But as we explained Stephanie Weisser, poetic forms of bagana songs are very elaborate and remain impenetrable to the uninitiated and therefore have no place in a disc. Comments are effective and photos and help inform the listener about this fascinating instrument. Be transported by yebagana mezmour (bagana songs) and their ostinati always renewed.

01 - Tafese Tesfaye - Ergebe na Wane (The Dove and the Pigeon) (6:03)
02 - Tafese Tesfaye - Wodadje Wodadje (You Who Take Good Care of Me) (5:59)
03 - Sosenna Gebre Yesus - Adeneyn Kemote (Save Us from Our Death) (6:11)
04 - Sosenna Gebre Yesus - Dengel Sele Esbe (When I Say Your Name) (6:16)
05 - Abiy Seyoum - Deggwa Tsome Deggwa (The Last Judgement) (2:56)
06 - Abiy Seyoum - Nastemaselke (We Are All Mortals) (3:44)
07 - Yetemwork Mulat - Semayi na Meder (Heaven and Earth) (5:45)
08 - Yetemwork Mulat - Sebsebo (The Second Coming of Christ) (4:58)
09 - Alèmu Aga - Alem Marefia Na'at (The World Is But a Place of Survival) (4:42)
10 - Alèmu Aga - Selamta be Megrafia (Song of Praise Played With a Plectrum) (3:51)
11 - Akalu Yossef - Abatatchen Hoy (Our Father) (4:29)
12 - Akalu Yossef - Manimeramere (Who Can Doubt ) (6:35)