When Tradition and Creativity Meet

Experiencing Ethiopian music like you have never before

On Wednesday, January 2, 2019, hundreds gathered at the National Theater to celebrate the one year anniversary of Andir; 12th  and the last session of a musical performance by Moseb Band that has been held every month for the last year.

Like all previous shows, the 12th Andir left audiences in awe of what seems like an effortless flow of a creative cultural explosion.

“We used to perform with Circus Ethiopia back when it was still very active; we played the accompanying music for the circus performances. When those shows started to die down, I came up with the idea to start a band so that we could be able to play our own music. That is how we started Moseb and then eventually started the musical show of Andir,” Tasew Wendem, leader of the band and Washient player said.

The Band members haven’t stayed the same since its establishment; there are some that had left and have been replaced. “That was one of the challenges we faced. It is the kind of career that could be challenging financially; you don’t see the money as fast as you would like. So, there are some that left the band because of that,” Tasew said.

For people that see the band performing on stage, it is very clear that what they are creating is unique and special at the same time familiar because it is executed within the rhythms of traditional Ethiopian music. “We believe our traditional instruments are capable of doing so much more. There are some people that believe if you play the Kirar like the guitar, then that means traditional music is evolving and growing. I don’t agree with that. I believe the Kirar on its own has the ability to perform on a new level, it just needs to be explored to its full capacity and potential,” Tasew said.

During performances, the band members are in sync; they speak to each other through the sounds they make with their instruments. Even when they improvise and go on a freestyle, they seem to do so in complete comfort and flow.

The music they play tell stories; the sounds help audiences create images in their minds. Most of the time the stories that they try to tell are stories many relate to; about beauty, life, happiness, sadness challenges, and so on.

“The beauty of instrumental music is that it gives whoever is listening the freedom to understand it in whatever way they choose. There are no words guiding you or tell you what it is. It is completely free for interpretation. We get feedbacks from people about what they felt or understood when they listened to us perform and it’s always different; different interpretation of the same sound. That is how we want it to be,” Tasew said.

Tasew started playing Washint when he was just a child, growing up in Debre Markos, Gojam. He says he always knew that he wanted to pursue music and it was with that in mind that he moved to Addis Ababa 10 years ago.  Now, the ultimate goal, according to him, is to create good music and to be a good musician.

“This past year with Andir has been a huge lesson for us. We have experienced many things and now we are taking all those lessons and our abilities with instruments to create even better music. We want what we create to be timeless, that is the goal. If we do that it means we made history, we will be happy with what we have done and we will be better off financially,” Tasew said

Besides what they have been performing in public, Moseb has several new pieces of music at hand. They are currently in discussion on what to come up with next in terms of stage performances but also coming out with an album composed of fully instrumental original works. Follow them on Social Media for upcoming shows.

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