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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TEFERI Assefa, MA in Jazz Drumming and Percussion Performance, From Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, Katowice, Poland

In the field of Ethiopian music study, I observed the fact that indigenous music, melody, rhythms, musical instruments along with musicians who are able to play it have been immensely disappearing. For instance, Negarit is an Ethiopian indigenous drum set which is now only found in some museums and no longer made or played in any social or political scenarios. For the last three decades, I have been in the music scene as a drummer and researcher to realize such a drastic change in the field. As an intervention strategy I founded “Negarit” fusion band (to memorialize the “deceased instrument’) at Addis Ababa in 2014. Henceforth, I conducted field work in various peripheral areas and managed to collect different indigenous melody, rhythms and made a rigorous analysis to fuse them by using modern (sax, trumpet, bass guitar, drum) and traditional (washint- flute) music instruments cooperatively. For instance, the polyphonic singing of Gamo, the Lalibela vocal, the Derashe, the Konso and the Yemi peoples - the band mixes these societies' indigenous melodies/rhythms and performs its work on special cultural and social events, clubs and festivals. Moreover, it is also dedicated to promoting the rich musical treasure of the various nationalities of Ethiopia for domestic and foreign audiences (performers, tourists, musicians, diplomats, etc.). Besides its engagement to generate income from music, the band is working with the anticipations to bring awareness, appreciation and preservation of the unique musical heritage of Ethiopians. Therefore, the main objective of this paper is to explore the way to preserve and utilize indigenous melody/rhythms of societies in inaccessible areas of Ethiopia through incorporating traditional and modern music instrument and to share the experience, roles and the impression of a small music band- “negarit” for the rest of practitioners, researchers and academicians in sustaining/transforming the indigenous melody/rhythm which is on the verge of extinction for coming generations. Lastly, the author will be happy to bring his practical works in performing sessions with the Negarit Band to accompany the conference and to promote an “indigenous Ethiopian music essence with modern taste”.