Ethiopiques Volume 11, The Harp of King David
By alemu aga
Although commonly know as "King David's harp", the bèguèna is not actually a member of the harp family. It is in fact an oversized lyre with ten strings –usually plucked, sometimes strummed with a plectrum. It is probably the oldest musical instrument played in Ethiopia. One of today's uncontested masters of the bèguèna, Alèmu Aga, sings religious songs, traditional fables and folk tales, as well as his own poems. Meditative, devotional or uplifting sor some, simply "mind blowing" for others, bèguèna music is without doubt an otherwordly experience for Western ears.