Anthology of urban and tribal music from the late Ethiopian Empire, first issued in 1971. Presented as two volumes—vol. 1, Mindanoo Mistiru (“What is the Unknown?”), and vol. 2, Gold from Wax (referring to the two layers of meaning in Amharic poetry)—these recordings covers over 70 languages and 200 dialects. Recorded by Ragnar Johnson and Ralph Harrisson.
Ethiopia contains many diverse peoples and many styles of music. It was still an empire in July and August 1971 when these recordings were made. Over 70 languages and 200 dialects are spoken there. In much of the music, lyrics are more important than instrumentation and transmission is oral. The urban musicians, the bagana and Mary Armeede were recorded in Addis Ababa. Ethiopian urban musicians come from many parts of the country and are familiar with and adapt the styles of regions other than their own. The Afar divination chants and flutes were recorded in the Danakil desert. The Anuak toum and Nuer harp, lament and dance were recorded near the Sudan border. The Konso dance and the Gidole Fila flute dance were recorded near the Kenya border.