This is my first post after my return from the field. I have been in Ethiopia for two months, of which I spent a little more than six weeks in Baskeet. The time in the field was arduous but also very rewarding. I visited almost all Baskeet-speaking k’äbäles* in look for people who could tell me about Baskeet songs and who would be ready to be recorded. Often by accident, I found people with unexpected talents. With beautiful voices. Great repertoires of songs. With songs that told fascinating stories and contained interesting vocabulary. Once the word had spread that I was documenting Baskeet songs, more and more people were ready to share their knowledge with me. Regarding genres, I concentrated on praise songs, wedding songs, mourning songs, work songs and fairy tales in verses. Regarding instruments, I focussed on the recording of lyre music (see the instrument on the photo below) and unaccompanied vocal music – but I also got some flute and trumpet songs. Altogether I recorded about 300 songs.*
I hope to introduce some of the Baskeet musicians, song types and instruments to you in this year’s posts.
It was so incredibly sad to see how the rapidly spreading Protestant fundamentalism continues to eradicate the Baskeet song traditions which have so many stories to tell. So for the first time during a fieldtrip I had the feeling that I was doing something really useful. It is probably not exaggerated to say that no genuine Baskeet songs will be left in about 10 years. The musicians that I worked with feel under great pressure by the growing number of Protestants** who oppose all kinds of Baskeet music and who only consider Protestant pop music worshipping the Christian god as permitted. The musicians I recorded were so happy to see that their music was appreciated and documented and I am hopeful that the mp3-files of the recordings that are left behind will find their way (via Bluetooth) from mobile to mobile. (This year there was almost continuous mobile reception in Laska.)