INSTRUMENTAL Aug 24, 1972 - 39A Mbira (Thom) Addis Ababa

01 童话.flac

Recording #39A

Place of Recording: Addis Ababa

Date of Recording: September 2, 1972

Performance: Opiti Cham from Gambela

Informant: Agwa Alemo

Date of Transcript: April 21, 1973

1 000 Love song.

Information: Wire Thom. Not an Anuak song. Played by Anuaks and translated to Anuak. Mostly for those living on border of MASENKO tribe. When reaches interior of Anuak area, will not translate according to what they play but translate according to the sound. Words would not be translated. But would play I the same way. Instrumental.

Text: Our eldest brothers went to America.

2 052 Love song.

Information: Wire thom. Vocal and instrumental.

Text: What can I say, I’m surprised at this? (After these sentences can admire any girl after her tree or grandfather or uncle.) Surprising, refers to the dancing. Surprised how good the dancing is. How much it has improved)

3 166 Love song.

Information: Repeats the same words. After repeating the same word, he would praise the girl. Because there is no girl around. Therefore, he is not mentioning or praising any girl.

Text: Complains about a long journey where he wants to go. I’m ready to go. Because I’m poor (Doesn’t mean that he is ready to go very far wa Means that the boy is ready or has prepared to take his wife, only the girl was not prepared but the boy was prepared. He is informing his wife that he is ready to go)

4 270 Love song.

Information: Wire thom. Young girls are divided into two parts. Girls who can pound 4 tins of corn and there are those who are lazy or too weak to pound as much. Those who are lazy to pound they are being insulted in this song. A very nice number, melodic and clear. Instrumental.

Text: When they eat or when the chew pounded corn, they look as they are eating bread. (Means they are very happy, because it is not a big job to do. As pounding corn is.) Repeats the same thing. Voice joins. Those who know how to pound they look like my mother. Or they took the place of my mother.

5 338 Marching form. Not a dancing song.

Information: Wire thom. Vocal and instrumental. If a boy has a girlfriend in the village, he will be going away for working or to have clothes.

Text: In Gambela or in the highlands, when he comes back, he will ask his wife or his girlfriend, when I come, I didn’t hear any greeting from you. Repeats. When I came from Gambela, I didn’t hear any greeting form you.

ANUAK Project: FIELD NOTES – August 24, 1972

Retyped: June 20, 2019

Using the Anuak thom and the wire thom. Opiti Cham from Gambela. 19 years old. Asfa Wossen Comprehensive School (secondary) 10th grade. Father played with the Anuak thom when he was small, so he learned from him. He would play by himself. Opiti learned by watching and listening only. Father said that when he was very small, he would pick up Opiti when he was crying and put him on his knee and then play for him and he would stop crying and go to sleep. No young generation playing the Anuak thom. This is the real Anuak thom.

The Thom was Invented in Anuak area. 3 tribes played: Shilluk, Anuak, and Nuers. But the Anuak were the first to discover it. Small thom: 3 ways where it came from. From Nayyem tribe in southern Sudan. Played also in Central Africa. Used mostly by Masengo tribe. Masengo tribe learned from Anuak. Anuak got it from the Nayyem during theWW2.

1 00 Dancing song from Gok by Oleng, about 20 years old. The journey of Ojulo’ s son. He is a poor man so he married but didn’t get money to pay for his wife so he said it is better for me to go away. I’m not fit to be here because I’ so poor.

2 028 By a girl from Chobo called Alito. Dancing song, she is 16. A new song. We are searing now on the name of Maj Hunger, we ae gong to chase hunger away. At the time of this song there was a very much hunger in the village, people were suffering from this hunger. No corn or Maize. Then they got the food, and they were happy. This was the last of the hunger. We are going to chase it away.

3 077 Dancing song. When she walks, she seems like a queen? I didn’t know that you were lazy like this. (In Anuak area, some of the ladies don’t know to cook) so when I saw you, you looked like a queen. I didn’t know you were so lazy. A new song. He learned it while in Gambela. Possibly from Gok area by Oleng.

4 132 The war will not last. Invented by the old people by Othino from Adongo, an old song. Wherever I go the war will follow. Agwaga.

5 165 Abung name of the girl. By Oling. For his wife. Don’t turn your face from the rich man, you have to concentrate on looking on him, accept this man the rich man, when you live with the rich man you will not suffer or get into difficulty. You will be in a comfortable life. If you try to live with a poor man you will be put in the prison instead of him because he will run away. I heard that the poor man has died, but it doesn’t matter let him die. I don’t mind.

6 225 From southern Sudan. Moro song. (Moro tribe) For marching.

7 252 Dancing song. From gok. Anuak song. Saying, I’m going away (telling his wife) I wonder all these things. If I change my mind I will not be coming back. I’m going on a single journey. No coming back.

8 307 Same as above, this one with words, the other instrument only. A little changed. Tell me to know that you quit me for good and let me go away. If you don’t love me, I’m going on a single journey (repetition) Don’t yell me if I go away is caused by my poorness. (Don’t say why does he go away, why does he do this, why does he leave his country and go away.)

9 384 I will change my country for her and go to her country called Okuna. This song from Okuna. An Anuak song.

10 437 Okama song. Let me tell you my life history. As I see you, you are not fit to live with an old man or to be an old man’s wife. Otherwise, I will knife him. Okama song is different from dancing songs. Shen people dance, girls and ladies go to the men, then people go in lines, girls follow the one they choose. From Ajwara by Kwot.

11 510 I’m very happy, what can I tell you. Known my going is very near (repeats) Saying this to the girl, I’m so happy what can I tell you, my going is near. From Gok, a love song.

12 574 You have to tell me the truth. Don’t say that this man has married me. It doesn’t matter. You are not my wife. Whom did I send to you, who is my delegate to speak for me? I didn’t ask you for any single word. I don’t want you. A love song. (Used to confuse the girls) This song to confuse girls. From Okuna.

13 634 (All these songs instrumental or not have words.) Means the food. When people finish eating their lunch, they will not stay without any mosquito net. If they are outside, they will beat their bodies. In that place people used to digest their food by beating their stomach. (Caused by mosquitos) Song against the village of Pinyudo. From gok. A song while sitting, sung during a dance. A soft dance.


Large thom: Kind of wood: Orogo wood for the belly.

Bracing: Obello wood: framework.

Strings; Nylon, old people use giraffe muscle tendons.

Skin covering from buffalo skin and tied with buffalo.

Made by his father, in 1970.

Learned first on small thom in childhood. Played the large thom for 2 years. Learned this from an old man called Gora from Pinbungo (Pirbungu). Learned by observation. He stars playing at 7 till midnight. Opiti watched how he played listening to the tune. With one he touches and gives such a sound. Etc. He became happy with him, when he learned song from him. Spent one week went to Pokwo and worked in the clinic, practiced by himself without instructor. People because very interested, when to dance place, people became very interested, when he doesn’t have work, he carries it with him.

Bridge called: Gwok,

Strings: first string is called ajam, other strings, 4th string is allwela. 6 does not have names. First is ajam because of the sound being low. 4th allwela because it is high. The 4th string is the beginner of the song. First is the helper. The one that indicates the pitch of note that are singing with. Never changes the pitch by fretting or pressing like a guitar.

Strings are changed according to the song. But all the songs sung today, no changes were made:

Low 1: A;2 #; 3 D flat; 4 B 5 A 6 F#