INSTRUMENTAL July 11, 1972 9B Anuak Thom Opanya

01 Track 1.mp3

Recording #9B

Place of Recording: Opanya

Date of Recording: July 11, 1972


Informant: Paul Abulla

Date of Transcript: August 3, 1972; Direct conversation

1 000 Agwaga.

Information: (15 or 20 years ago, were fighting with in Massengo area. Captured the people as slaves and then sold them to the Nuers or to another tribe.) The small drum …when they hear the drum, the people will get up and march with the chief (Odolla: the small drum.) Repeats.

Text: Mentions the names of the people and saying that the people are not happy Repeats.

2 067 Agwaga.

Information: Instrumental. Anuak Thom.

3 112 Agwaga.

Information: Instrumental. Anuak thom. Interesting ending.

4 153 Agwaga.

Information: Instrumental. Very nice piece but with much background noise because of mike placement. Repeated string. This is also performed at a later date. Notice the ending.]5 217 Movie Sequence. Action of the man playing the thom walking down the path from his village. Quality of sound is not good.

6 516 Agwaga.

Text: Mentions the names of the people. Talks about the chief. A saying that he is very kind and gives the people things. Cows or bulls, etc.

7 388 Agwaga.

Information: Very interesting. He went to Galla but did not mention the place where he went. Repetitions. (a characteristic of his songs. And this adds interest).

Text: We are people of fighting and used to fight against certain villages.

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 this 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 I 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 players 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 holding 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.