13 May 2018

Ethiopia: Music's Taste Yesterday, Today

Some say music is as important as humans' basic needs, while others say it should be forbidden once and for all. But the reality on the ground is very different. At this point in time, people from all walks of life regardless of age, sexual category, ethnicity, political affiliation and the rest listen to a range of music based on their preferences. Some people are crazy about love songs, patriotic songs, war cry songs, praise and worship songs, real life songs, and what not.

For some people, music means everything as it adds meaning to their life. More often than not, most people listen to music for various reasons every so often. To the surprise of many, some people cannot carryout tasks in the absence of music as it serves them as energizer.

But what kind of music do most people love listening to? What kind of music makes them feel happy: modern or oldies? The Ethiopian Herald had a short stay with different people from various walks of life to figureout what kinds of music interest the general public.

Having this in mind, this writer headed straight to a certain music shop found in heart of Sholla market. As it happened, he came across an electrician who was fixing a certain television set with a headphone on his ears.

Oblivious to his surrounding, he did not realize that this writer was standing by him. As the technician was fully engrossed by the music that he was listening to, he was simply shaking his head. Suddenly,when he looked around, he saw a man standing by his side. After the two exchanged greetings, the technician asked this writer "What are you hunting for ?". "Your feeling about music-modern and oldies?" the writer answered. The technician responded in the following way.

"To begin with, music is the whole thing to me. Without music I do not think I would lead a meaningful life for the reason that music increases my happiness, lowers my stress and improves my health. Without blowing things out of proportion, unless I listen to music, I cannot sleep as it should be. That means, music helps me sleep better apart from doing other tasks as it should be. When I come to your question, my music preferences are entirely different. In reality, I am crazy about old music. I adore old songs more than anything under the sun. When you intercepted me, I was wholly carried away by Aster Aweke's songs. My love for this music icon defy description. "

"When on earth, I listen to Mahmoud Ahmed's songs a feeling that I cannot express in words electrifies my entire being. Frequently, I listen to Aster Aweke's, Tilahun Gessesse's, Kiros Alemayhu and Muluken Melesse's and other singers' songs. They mean everyt hing to me seeing that their songs mostly touch upon a number of societal messages. Among Tilahun Gessesse's songs I listen to Lanchi Biye, Ayekdashim Lebe, Yezen baba Mar Nesh, Sethed Seketelat, Yene Mastawesh, ketro Yikeber, Yene Felagote what not. Actually, I am not saying, I do not entirely listen to the present singers' works. For instance, I listen to Teddy Afro's and Gossaye Tessfaye's songs.

If forced to lead a world minus music, I would feel a vacuum and my life would be meaningless."

The other interviewee this writer came across for the same propose is Sahel. He is a music composer around kazanchis.

He put his feeling for music in the following way,"We compose different types of music pleasant to ears. Our focus is making listeners feel happy and take the music industry to a new level of accomplishment. Mostly, I listen to both old songs and the rest ones. But I love old songs more than other songs. I am interested in old songs for a lot of focus was given to old music. The music and the topic our singers of the past raised were all attention grabbing. They melt anybody's heart with no trouble. Also, the current singers are hard working. They always come up with different-ideas-packed verses and songs. Nowadays,the business is not that much lucrative."

He went on to say " Once, one released a single hit or a single album, one cannot harvest the fruit of success within the shortest time possible because almost immediately irresponsible individuals download and share different songs with others. This being the case, singers efforts go for nothing. They do not get much benefit out of their works. I would say, a remedial measure must be taken in this regard. Otherwise, it will be difficult to take the Ethiopian music industry to a new level of success. That is why our works mismatch with old songs in terms of quality and the issue they raise. "

Genen Assefa is a student at Kilinto Technology University. He said, "I prefer listening to old songs because they express my feelings, ideas and thoughts. In addition the topics they touch upon are very tough. They cross-cut a number of societal issues. I hate songs revolving around love. As for me, love is a simple issue. We do not have to say, I'm going to die of your love, my life is empty without you, I am a prisoner of your love, I am tired of your love, your love is a poison, I cannot do anything without you, I want to kiss your lips, you are my angle, I am nothing without you, among the rest. What is the benefit we secure out of love? When you come to old songs, they focus more on societal issues such as motherland, bribe, heroism, mother, father, drought, and the rest."

He added "I learn a lot of things from old songs. The music compositions and other related aspects of old songs are really special. As pole stars, they reflect everything going on among the general public. Unless, song verses reflect realities, which are being manifested in the daily routines among the society, they cannot win the hearts and minds of the public. If truth be told, I love all traditional Ethiopi ans songs. They are being composed in a very nice way. I would say the general public is zooming attention to traditional Ethiopian music." .

The other person whom this writer had approached for an interview was Martha. She loves music very much. She said, "As most people listen to music, I do the same. I take advantage of headphone all the time. I love listening both old songs and current songs. But which do I value more? I give more value to old music. In the beginning, I was crazy about the current songs but when I observed my dad and mom listening to old songs over and over again at home, I gradually got attracted to old songs. All my family members listen to oldies for the most part Mahmoud Ahmed, Tilahun Gessesse, Muluken Melesse, Ephrem Tamiru, Neway Debebe, Aregahegn Worash and so forth.

"Music composers are producing a lot of attention-grabbing works at the moment. They are doing a great job. The number of music composers is increasing every so often. If they come up with different melodies which are pleasant to citizens' ears, everybody would happily listen to them. What is more, songwriters should as well place much emphasis on the themes of song verses they create. They do not have to stick to the same topic all the time if their intended target is to win the hearts and minds of the general public.

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