INSTRUMENTAL July 11, 1972 - 9A Anuak Thom Opanya

02 Track 2.mp3

Recording #9A

Place of Recording: Opanya

Date of Recording: July 11, 1972


Informant: Paul Abulla

Date of Transcript: July 29, 1972; Direct conversation

1 000 Agwaga.

Information: Using the Anuak Thom. Should be from Opanya. Concerns a king, therefore probably not from Opanya.

Text: We are going to capture your children and ladies.

2 022 Agwaga.

Information: Mentions the name Oman. Probably a very old song.

Text: Although a person angry he will not kill you, although he doesn’t like you, he will not harm you.

3 092 Agwaga.

Information: From Etung. About a double-dealing person who instigates fights by going to one village saying that the other village is going to attack you. And then he goes to the other village and says the same thing. Therefore, causing confusion and probable trouble between the villages simply because of misunderstanding.

Text: Let us not attack them. If we do, we will lose and they will lose also. Mentions the name of the chief.

4 116 Agwaga.

Information: An Agwaga for the king or chief to give something to the people. The people must make an Agwaga first to make the chief pleased first and so that he will realize that the people need something. Then he will give them what they need. Agwagas are not always war songs.

Text: We have nothing to eat, so let us all beat the odella (small drum) so that the chief will hear us. We have nothing to eat. Perhaps he will give us a cow or two.

5 150 Agwaga.

Information: Talking about the chief. Against the chief,

Text: The chief doesn’t look at the people, whether the people are hungry or not. Some people used to go to a certain place and stay, but if they have no food there, they will move on to another.

6 180 Agwaga.

Information: (Indirect inference to make the chief understand he made a mistake.) the writer is being careful so to avoid being arrested by the chief.) Repeats.

Text: The chief doesn’t take care of the bodyguard. He can’t call the people. He doesn’t give them something to eat

7 207 Agwaga.

Text: I have no relatives here, I only know the chief. Mentions the names of the people. Mentions the names of the people who were in the fighting. We have to leave that village alone, we are not going attack it. Asks the chief to give demoi. We must be strong to fight with them. (If we are not strong, we should not fight with them.)

8 308 Agwaga.

Information: They attacked a certain village and killed many people from that side.

Text: When we attacked, they ran away? The chief is very strong he is not afraid of anybody.

ANUAK Project: FIELD NOTES – July 11, 1972

Retyped: June 7, 2019

2:30 Leave Pokwo on foot heading up stream. We quickly encounter a body of waist high water standing over the dry season roadway we are following and so we wade in holding all equipment high. We continue for 45 minutes through high grown saw grass and plantings of corn in various stages of growth. Shortly before reaching the village we cut left through the 6-9-foot grass and corn and enter the village. This village is Opanya and we seat ourselves on Ethiopian cloth gray rugs attractively designed with lions on the border. The young fellows sitting together are obviously enjoying each other’s company. Two pots of goat meat are boiling over the fires being constantly stirred and cared for by another fellow, all in their early 20s.

After a brief wait, the gentleman we have come to hear comes from the other part of the village, strumming his thom as he comes. The instrument is heard before he appears. He arrives and seats himself in front of us. A pleasant appearing man of at least 50 with expressive features quick to smile and willing to please.

3:40 He begins singing using the Anuak thom, not a thumb piano at all but rather related to the Amhara krar. Six strings stretched over a stylized animal carving for a bridge over a skin sound box. He sings for the most part in unison with the strings he plays with both hands. The left-hand thumb plays the first two strings, the index finger strings 2 and 3, the third finger strings 3 and 4 and the 4 and 5th finger of the left-hand play’s strings 5. The right-hand thumb plays string 6 and sometimes 5, and beats rhythmically against the body. He plays with total contentment and total control and naturalness. At times he elaborates with various patterns where phrases end and he also plays in harmony on the instrument by itself. There seems to be a different style for the thom alone and the style of thom and voice.

It would appear the octaves are obtained with the LH playing strings 1 and 5 and thirds are played with strings 2 and 3. Octaves seem to be used frequently and the thirds and other intervals are used in the purely instrument music. Where repeated notes are played on the 5th string, the right and the left-hand alternate on the same string.

This is the real thom of the Anuaks. This instrument was made by someone other than this man. He has had it for only about 3 years but it appears to be much older than that. When asked where he learned how to play, he said it was a gift from God. He learned when he was young, learning himself, and not taught by anyone else. He believes there are other plays around here who are better than he but, those who recommended him considered him to be the expert.

In addition to taping outside, we moved into one of the grass houses to get out of the light rain. We also took time to film him walking along the path playing as he was when we arrived. We measured and photographed the thom from various angles and also took note of the hand playing position seated and standing.

5:30 We concluded our taping (No 9) filling completely one tape and offered the gentleman 3 dollars. He was willing to continue playing longer and had much more to offer but we had to return before dark endangered our path.

6:30 Return to Pokwo.