R E U P L O A D
Mezmur are the religious songs of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Mezmur is the Amharic term for music, although it often has a religious connotation. Other religious groups also use the term, which is in contrast with zafan, or secular music.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Christian churches in Africa, and it dates to pre-colonial times. As of 2015, it has between 40 and 45 million members. It has also spread outside Ethiopia, with many branches in the United States and other countries where Ethiopian immigrants have settled.
Tewahedo orthodox mezmur
It has a rich musical tradition, referred to as mezmur. Mezmur plays an important part in church services, including a detailed liturgy divided into two parts and 14 sub-parts known as anaphoras. These fixed songs undergo few changes.
Mezmur can also refer to hymns, which are more innovative, and the church continues to accept and use new hymns. These are more free-form songs of praise. Many Ethiopians take great pride in their music and strive to create beautiful songs as a sign of devotion.
Mezmur is not purely Ethiopian Orthodox. It can refer to any religious song. The P'ent'ay, or Ethiopian protestants, also use the term mezmur. The P'ent'ay can include Pentecostals, Baptists, Mennonites and many others.
O Goyta Selam
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Mezmur
The begena is an Ethiopian or Eritrean string instrument with ten strings belonging to the family of the lyre. According to oral tradition, Menelik I brought the instrument to the region from Israel, where David played on it to soothe King Saul's nerves and heal him of insomnia. Its actual origin remains in doubt, though local manuscripts depict the instrument at the beginning of the 15th century (Kimberlin 1978: 13).
Known as the instrument of noblemen, monks and the upper class and performed by both men and women, the begena was used primarily as an accompaniment during meditation and prayer. Though commonly played in the home, it is sometimes played in the framework of festive occasions. During Lent, the instrument is often heard on the radio and around churches. Begena is accompanied by singing voice only. The singer may compose his or her own texts or they may be taken from the Bible, from the Book of Proverbs, or from the Book of Qine, an anthology of proverbs and love poems. Subject matter includes the futility of life, the inevitability of death, saints, mores, morality, prayer, and praises to God. The song's duration varies according to the text, the audience, and the persistence of the player. Though many texts are of a religious nature, the instrument is not used in the Ethiopian Orthodox church services, even if it is seen occasionally in religious processions outside the church.
Because of the instrument's relatively intimate and sacred role in society, the begena is not common to find. Meditation and prayer are very private, personal endeavors, and hearsay suggests that the instrument is played by very few and is a dying art. However, in 1972, the Yared Music School in Addis Ababa began formal instruction in the begena. Since 2004, evening courses are organized and the begena is still played.
The begena has ten strings. However, different musicians use varying numbers of strings to play the begena. For example, begena teacher Memhr Sisay Demissae uses all ten strings to play the begena, while other players may use five or six of the strings. The left hand is used to pluck the strings.
When all ten strings are plucked, one method of tuning the begena is to tune each pair of strings to one of the pitches in a pentatonic scale. When using five of the stings, only the first, fourth, sixth, eighth and tenth strings are tuned and plucked to give sound. Finally, while playing the begena using six strings, the left hand plucks strings one, three, four, six, eight, and ten (starting from the left side when facing the instrument). The pointing finger plucks strings three and four while the other fingers are in charge of controlling one string each. The remaining strings are used for the finger rests or stops after the strings have been plucked, allowing the plucked string to vibrate.
The begena may also be played using a system called girf, wherein a plectrum made of horn or wood is used to pluck the ten strings of the begena. Megabe Sebhat Alemu Aga plays begena both by using his fingertips and girf.
The begena is characterized by a very specific buzzing sound, due to U-shaped leather pieces placed between each string and the bridge. The thong for each string is adjusted up or down along the bridge so that the string, when plucked, repeatedly vibrates against the edge of the bridge.
01. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 01 (5:55)
02. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 02 (6:29)
03. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 03 (4:48)
04. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 04 (7:00)
05. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 05 (6:03)
06. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 06 (6:06)
07. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 07 (5:54)
08. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 08 (6:30)
09. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 09 (5:20)
10. Ehul Saged - Mezmur & Bägäna - Track 10 (7:01)
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