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Ethiopia’s Foremost Jazz Musician gives Illustrated Talk in London

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Jazz   musician,   Mulatu   Astatke,   a   leading   Ethiopian   composer  since   the   1960s,   gave   a presentation to an audience of 500 at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) in London, on “Ethiopia’s Contribution to World Music”.

Mulatu covered a host of issues in connection with Ethiopia’s history as the cradle of mankind, its unique alphabet, musical notation and the legendary composer and choreographer, Yared, father of the Ethiopian Zema or chant. Yared used modulated keys in church music before even Europeans did. He is a hero and an Ethiopian saint, according to the tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox church.Mulatu also expounded on the significance of the eight Ethiopian musical signs which he said takes 15-20 years to study in the traditional  schools.  Winning  recognition for these home-grown notations is among the  aims  he  aspires  to   achieve,  which would consolidate Ethiopia’s contribution to world music.

Ethiopians, he argued, are scientists of sound, inspired by nature and their environment to develop and play an assortment of indigenous musical instruments including the Masinko, Kirar, the drum and prayer sticks, long before others came onto the scene.He also shed light on what differentiates jazz from jazz fusion and the contribution of Ethiopians to the enhancement of music.
Dr Mulatu is a musician, composer, arranger and the founder of Ethio Jazz. Born in Jimma, Ethiopia, he studied at Lindisfarne College and Trinity College of Music in England and Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA. He is a doctor of music at Berklee and a fellow at Harvard. As a vibraphone, conga and percussion player, he has performed in Africa, Europe, Latin America, Australasia and Scandinavia. Most recently he played to 120,000 festival goers in Rio.

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