Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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Anaïs MARO, Queensland University Technology (QUT)

Already in 1996; Baxter, Hultin and Triulzi were presenting one of the characteristics of the Oromo identity as being both unified and diverse, without explaining how this synthesis was possible.Traditional music in the Oromo region is rich in rhythms rooted in territories and fulfil an array of functions. Ethnomusicological studies have focused on particular territories (Qashu in Arsi, Alemu in, Hassen in Bale, Tefera Dibaba in Salale) or genres (Tolessa for Gerarsa, Bartel for work songs…). However, popular music in the Oromo language is gathering under the label ‘Oromo Music’. How does the traditional diversity dialogue with the current claim for unity as a genre? Based on the history of cultural policies of Ethiopia, a digital ethnography of online music videos, and ethnographic fieldwork in Addis Ababa and the Oromo region, I will show how past and present dynamics since the 1960’s have created a shared musical culture. Edgar Morin calls ‘hologramatic principle’ the presence of the whole in each part, such as holographic representations or human DNA. I will use the same concept to explain how artists and listeners are creating a sense of belonging through diversity, exchanging personal experiences of meanings in the translocal context of YouTube.