Krar CollectiveBy Henok Reta

Azmari bet, the local name given to the famous noisy, colorful houses from which sounds and screams of laughter emerge, are sadly seldom attended by local crowds due to their choice in music. However, tourists and foreign residents go to these clubs frequently.

Many of the local young people flock to more modern nightclubs late in the night. Still, many agree that live performance of traditional Ethiopian music is a stunning sight to see.

After the famous people to people musical tour held in the mid-1980s, putting out the idiosyncratic roots of traditional Ethiopian music, many are still struggling to break into the global music industry. Except, of course, for the few who have attempted to fuse local traditional sounds with the global sounds. What many would prefer to call ‘modern Ethiopian music’ is what many people are listening to in the urban areas of the country.

Even those songs and melodies of the traditional type, played in the countryside, are composed in a computerized music studio stuffed with keyboards, saxophones and guitars. Perhaps there might be a single string instrument to be used in order to maintain the intrinsic sound of that particular original area. Locally called traditional bands or cultural bands that play different ethnic-based grooves of Ethiopian music using traditional instruments such as the krar, masinko, washint and kebero are not as popular or loved as modern bands. They are solely found in cultural restaurants and those typically available night shows in town.

Krar Collective, a trio Ethiopian traditional music band based in London, is now gaining worldwide fame. Having been abroad for five years, the three musicians, who collaborated as one in many of their stage performances, have started impinging on the general audience of  Ethiopian music abroad. Their debut album, entitled Ethiopia Super Krar, recorded by Riverboat Records in 2012, has now been playing in many European countries following their successive tours in the continent. Sticking to one of the most likable Ethiopian traditional string instruments of krar to name themselves they signify it by putting out in the cover of their official album. Their album is dedicated to the late renowned krar composer and traditional vocalist, the late Asnakech Worku, best known for her classic and spine-tingling song, ‘Endeyerusalem’ also included in the album.

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