Bonga

The Kaffa region is an area of dense rolling hills located in the southwest of Ethiopia. We met musicians from the region in Bonga town. Bonga town is a colourful melange in a muddy slop, full of twisted corrugated iron, slapped up in the middle of a tropical jungle. The…

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Burubwax

The little village of Burubwax, about 20km south of Gondar, was a much anticipated destination on our trip through the north west Amhara region. We had been informed in Addis Ababa while drinking at various Asmari Bets (cultural music houses) that this is the root location of the infamous Asmari.…

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Flute Player, Gondar

While we were recording in Gondar, we came across a blind old man walking very slowly along the street, playing his washint – a wooden flute. The music that he was producing was ethereal. We asked him if he would be interested to tell us about his work, music and…

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Sidamo

Although now administratively based in Awassa, before the Mengistu era the Sidamo people appear to have enjoyed a substantial presence and their own state in the south of Ethiopia. Their music, as you will hear, does not seem much influenced by the northern provinces (which themselves were primarily influenced by…

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Mersa

The Mersa tribe are based in Habru in the Amhara region. The vast majority of the population in the Amhara region are Christian Orthodox. The musicians at our recording session made reference both to Islam and Christianity. This is reflected in their music, since the beat most certainly has its…

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Jimma Oromo

The Oromo tribe comprise some 40% of the population of Ethiopia but have never enjoyed the same administrative power as the Amhara or Tigray tribes. This could explain why Oromo music is not as ubiquitous in pop culture in Addis. It’s very difficult to find live Oromo music in the…

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Gurage: Sabat Bet

Gurage music has a particularly unique beat and dance, which is immediately recognisable. It almost sounds like there’s a ‘break’ in it, which can be at half or double speed. Modern synthesizer-driven songs from this area are regularly played in bars, and you will always hear a Gurage dropped by…

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Gondar

Gondar is the old capital of the Amhara region and the closest large town to Burubwax, considered by some to be the traditional home of the Asmari. The Gondar beat is distinct in style from Gojjam, or Wollo, which also sit within the same region. The singers we recorded were…

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Awrus

The Awrus tribe’s administrative centre is in Hagere Selam, in the south of Tigray, on the border of the Amhara region. The music appears to have influences from both regions, which makes it quite distinctive. We recorded five tracks here in May 2014 in a large barn in a community…

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