Anyone who steps into the public sphere in Ethiopia is also a potential political leader. In this atmosphere, an outspoken musician runs a high risk of falling foul of the authorities. One such story unfolded last week — the inexplicable, and still unresolved, murder in Addis Ababa of Hachalu Hundessa , the year-old singer from the southern region of Oromia. The country is still stunned. Addis Ababa has erupted in protests that have left scores dead and dozens arrested. With the arrests of Oromo leaders, protests have spread as far as Minneapolis and London, cities with Oromo diasporas.
Undeclared spokesman for the Oromo
Hachalu hundessa jirra 2020freedownload
In an entire volume of the influential Ethiopiques album series was devoted to his work. But it the film Broken Flowers by Jim Jarmusch that took his sound outside specialist circles. The film featured much of his music, and Yekermo Sew became something of a cult tune.
A man brimming with empathy
Ethiopian music uses a distinct modal system that is pentatonic , with characteristically long intervals between some notes. The music of the Ethiopian Highlands uses a fundamental modal system called qenet , of which there are four main modes: tezeta , bati , ambassel , and anchihoy. Music in the Ethiopian highlands is generally monophonic or heterophonic. Dorze polyphonic singing edho may employ up to five parts; Majangir , four parts.
The music, a hybrid of traditional Ethiopian music and jazz, is subdued, somewhat melancholy, and at times psychedelic. Mr Astatke, the originator and composer of songs in this canon, plays his principal instrument, the vibraphone, with a light touch. Between songs, there is no small talk. He thanks the crowd, and coolly introduces the next number. On visits to New York he hung out with jazz musicians such as John Coltrane and performed with the Duke Ellington orchestra in Ethiopia in the s. Mr Astatke's name resurfaced in , when his compositions appeared in the soundtrack of Jim Jarmusch's film Broken Flowers.