10 July 2018

Ethiopia: Music Beyond Entertainment

In the history of human being all over the world, no time and no issue that is not attached with music. Child raising to school system, entertainment to politics, religion to Military life or economic activities what so ever, it could be generalized that music has its own role and basic place in peoples social, political and economic life.

Music is a language, serve as a means of mass communication and self expression. Music is an entertainment and also a medicine for stressed mind. It can tell and make history. It is a communication with human soul and emotions. As a result this fact, that music's attachment with human life in nature, the world population have developed different system and kinds of music, that express and make up their feeling, culture and psychology. As music is an instrument that can serve to tell one's feeling and message, through wisdom of composition of melody and lyrics, there are so many classic achievements have been made in different society and now so.

Music's like rapping, reggae have greatest impact in freedom movement of blacks, in revolting against apartheid and other injustices, in America and Africa. In India also music is believed contributing highly for mobilization and awakening of the people. This is what we can observe in the classic songs of artists like Bob Marley.

"Until the philosophy which hold one race superior

And the other inferior

Is finally and permanently

Discredited and abandoned

Everywhere is war

Me say war"

For Ethiopia, Music is among the classic civilization of the nation. Throughout history of Ethiopia music has biggest impact in the hole movement of social, political as well as economic life of the people. Politically 'Azmari's', traditional string music players with wax and gold lyric and emotion controlling melody, are the major players in criticizing, prizing leaders or war heroes, speaking out the injustice made against the piteous, paraphrase the status puo of the time as echoing the history.

Farmers have also different songs that carried out when they are working alone with their cattle's and other time when working in group, with respective songs for each activities of farming stages such as plowing, sowing, mowing, extracting etc. These songs are firmly believed to give courage, moral and inspiration for farmers and even for their cattle's.

Beyond these as one of the nation's greatest civilization, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOTC), melody system, which is extra ordinary unique known as St. Yared 'Zema' or melody is very matured and complex one. The EOTC have been using it since 6th C.

In the history of modern music of the nation, mainly since 20th C, a number of artists have been revealed with classic works, Like Honorable Dr Tilahun Gessesse, Mohamud Ahmed, Tewodros Taddesse, Menilik Wosnachew, Aster Awoke, and many others with contemporary remarkable artists like Tewodros Kassahun, Ejigayehu Shibabaw. While these are artists mainly known for Amharic music, in the same say there are also a number of musicians in different local languages.

These and the like musician works are praised for considering the culture, psychology, politics, social issues of the society and believed they are successful in playing their expected social commitment. Thus remain unforgettable in spite of time change.

However, in recent periods, due to the influence of globalization and other factors, most of peoples are heard blaming musicians, specially the recent youngsters for not considering the local sentiments of the people. Most of theme are trying to copy the western music system and the others are striving to mixing the local traditional musics with pop culture.

Addis Ababa University Dean of School of Visual and Performing Arts, Assistant Professor Nebiyu Baye, in his exclusive interview with The Ethiopian Herald said that; in order to answer why this is happening "First of all we need ask why people pay effort in the works of arts in general? It is because of the eternal need of self expression of human being."

People want to express themselves to the others. In this process they reflect through artistic works from which music is the one, what is inside their thought. In this case the major inputs our psychological make up is essential. If the person is well aware of his countries history, culture, tradition and other sentiments and if he is appreciating them, most probably his works will be the reflection of those things. "If current parents are teaching their children the past of their country and society, that will be what they are going to reflect in their works," he stressed.

On the other hand, Nebiyu notes the impact of market as well. "Most of the time commercial art works consider what do the audience wants?" he said. As to him, this means there is an audience wants the works now in the market. Bu,he said that one can't generalize that art works are determined only by the market.

Comparatively speaking, he cited the research made on film viewers in Addis Ababa, "Among cinema customers, people between age of 16 to 24 years are constitutes 70 percent of the total number of viewers, therefore film makers take as their central audiences these group, and the same possibility can be applied in the case of music too." However, he underscored that artists should focus on the society in general. "If they make holistic consideration, they will increase number of their audiences and they can add extra asset to their work."

Nebiyu also noted that before blaming musicians, it is also necessary to observe the status qou of the country. How much the environment is free? What issue is allowed and what is restricted? There were so many deprivations in the past. Yet nowadays also there are sensitivity of politics, religion and some traditions. On the other hand, there are also the limitation in knowledge, skill and information, need to be solved. There is also the financial and technological capacity problem, specially in film making.

He, however, illustrated that: "As they are making creative works by wisdom, artists are leaders, artist should lead the audience, they have to increase efforts so that their works to influence peoples mind."

He also noted that musicians like Bob Marley saying; "Have you see how he inculcate the big international agenda into his music?, you can take artists like Tilahun Gessesse who were singing targeting to be listened even after his death, There are conscious peoples like Professor Haile Gerima and the passed Laureate Tsegaye Gebremedihn. They are standing firmly for truly Ethiopian sentiments while peoples are flooding to western styles." He stressed.

On the other hand ,as additional part of the solution ,he called up on the government to support the development of the art towards national values. "Art is the source of everything and nothing it can do," he emphasized. As of him most of conscious countries have Art council, that support by fund relevant works of individuals, like films, musics and others. According to him such kinds of effort is very much necessary for Ethiopia, for the country who has quit a number of things to tell and more than hundred million citizens that are open minded for Art works.

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