Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Seleshe Damessae and the devil's krar

Myths point to the Nile River area as the origin of the lyre.
Mercury is supposed to have devised the lyre when one day he found a dried -out tortoise
on the banks of the Nile.On the other hand ,historical documents attest that lyres
played a great role in Sumerian ceremonies before 2700 BC.
Egyptian paintings of 2000BC show Semitic nomads with lyres.

Kebede, Ashenafi, "The Bowl-Lyre of Northeast Africa. Krar: The Devil's Instrument"

Azmaris   the Ethiopian singer-musicians,like the European bards,or the West African djelis(griots).
may be male or female, are skilled at singing extemporized verses,
accompanying themselves on either the masenqo(one-stringed fiddle)or the krar.
The azmaris excel in the art of improvisation.A few centuries ago the azmaris performed religious functions at the courts of sovereigns.
They celebrated liturgies and officiated at certain ceremonies. Their repertoire gradually
became more secular. They began as praise-singers, then they sang love poetry and eventually began to invent
humorous or satirical verse in which they poked fun at their own protectors.
Love songs are still by far the most popular part of their repertoire.

The krar is a five-or six-stringed bowl-shaped lyre .
The instrument is tuned to a pentatonic scale. A modern krar may be amplified,
ans its five or six strings determine the available pitches. The instrument's tone depends on the musician's
playing technique: bowing, strumming or plucking. If plucked, krar will produce a soft tone.
Strumming, on the other hand, will yield a harmonious pulsation.
According to legends passed by word of mouth (yaf taric) from generation to generation,
the Krar is known as " the devil's instrument" (yeseyTan mesaria).

According to a few azmaris who still remember and tell the story,
the make of the begena, its measurements and construction with the techniques of playing it,
was miraculously re­vealed to Dawit mainly to serve in the musical praise of God,
in the adoration of His name as well as in the encouragement it rendered in poetical (Kinai)
religious meditations and prayers. The Krar, on the contrary, was an inferior instrument,
both in sound and resemblance to that of the begena, which man made inspired by seytan.
Thus, the Azmaries say, the Krar's function in music also remained inferior-only
for the adoration of feminine beauty, arousal of the sexual impulse, or praise of carnal love.

a future  hope from the past 
in a new superior  rip


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