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Burnt Friedman has been in the music business for over 30 years – still, his name wasn’t familiar to us when the Goethe-Institut in Munich approached us to become one of the locations for his Sub-Sahara Africa tour. The first impression of a “German electronic music” turned out to be a fallacy, after realising that the cooperation with a local artist would become an electronic-acoustic music experience.

In years of collaboration with his fellow musician Yaki Liebezeit, Burnt Friedman has learned to break down rhythms to their basic patterns and to divide them into cyclic rhythms. He plays these basic rhythms on different instruments and records them, creating tracks that he can program and play from his laptop. So, to come back to the fallacy – Friedman’s music is electronic in as much as it depends on speakers in order to be heard. However it neither fits in the electronic music genre, nor can be characterized as “German” music.

Equipped with his laptop and a mixer Burnt Friedman arrived in Kampala on 8th October2013 to rehearse seven of his tracks with Hakim Kiwanuka to put together a live concert that would take place two days later. Hakim Kiwanuka as percussionist and multi-instrumentalist mainly supports other musicians on stage, but has also just started his solo carrier. He plays nearly every Ugandan traditional instrument, from drums over flutes to the Dingidi (tube fiddle).

During the first workshop day Burnt Friedman and Hakim Kiwanuka approached slowly and shared their understanding of music.Friedman’s experience and Kiwanuka’s openness led to an incredibly fast understanding for the unfamiliar rhythm patterns that Friedman had brought. Despite of the national holiday – the 9th of October is Uganda’s Independence Day – a small group of journalists showed up for the announced press conference. The fusion of Kiwanuka’s traditional instruments and the sound patterns of Friedman’s mixer, that to inexperienced ears might sound somehow syncopated, convinced the journalists to return for the concert on the following evening.

The second day was dedicated to the fine-tuning and the sound check. On October 10th at 7pm the gates to the GZK/UGCS garden opened. About the same time a rain shower threatened to ruin the evening for organisers, musicians, sound team and audience. But the rain paused and allowed the two musicians to come on stage and create a one hour sound experience that was unfamiliar and pleasant at the same time.

It is fascinating how two musicians from different backgrounds are able to bring up such an impressive concert within a very short time, building a new bridge between Germany and Uganda and showing that Friedman’s “non-place” music concept does indeed work.

by Katharina Neidhardt

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