Sacred sounds from north Africa
April 6, 2008

Over the past few weeks my YouTube wanderings have led me in some interesting new directions, as well as reacquainting me with some long-forgotten classics. In this post I’m focusing on the music of two ancient, but little-known (to Western audiences) Christian traditions of north Africa.

First up is music from the orthodox Christian tradition of Ethiopia. These beautifully hypnotic hymns are part of the liturgy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and are just a couple of the many dozens of similar examples that have now found their way onto the Web. In my opinion this is one little-known ancient musical tradition which definitely deserves a fuller examination:

 

The Ethiopian Orthodox church has a 1000+ year relationship with another ancient Christian tradition of the Near East – the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, founded in 451 CE, which has 11,000,000 adherents in Egypt, and is led by Pope Shenouda III.  

Those who caught last week’s show (UT #702) will have heard me play several Coptic liturgical chants from a recording by the Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe. Here’s a gorgeous Coptic hymn to the Virgin Mary:

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UT enters the blogosphere
February 22, 2008

Welcome to the official Ultima Thule blog.

The UT team intend to use this forum to bring our listeners regular updates from across the ambient universe – including new release information, reviews, interviews and lots of other interesting stuff that we can’t, for one reason or other, put to air on the show itself.

We hope you enjoy it, and look forward to your input.

To kick things off, here’s a sample of funky middle-eastern now-sounds from world citizen Natacha AtlasLeysh Natarak? (Why are we fighting?)…

…and a classic 1960s concert performance by the great Egyptian singer Om Kalthoum; popularly known as “the Star of the East”, 4 million people thronged the streets of Cairo for her funeral in 1975, and her albums still outsell those of many contemporary performers nearly 40 years later.  The track is entitled El Ghazaly…