Forged from a rare metal found only in Africa and South America, the Afro-horn is an instrument to open the mouths of the gods. It was invented by ancient Egyptians, who called it the Tun-tet. According to Brent Hayes Edwards’ imaginative essay on the mythical instrument, there are only three Afro-horns in the world: one in a museum collection in Europe; another guarded jealously by an indigenous community on the West coast of Mexico; but the third is in New York, in the collection of Rashaan Roland Kirk. Brent Hayes Edwards (Interpreted by Native Maqari) follows the afro-diasporic sonic adventures of Henry Dumas, Sun Ra and Francisco Mora-Catlett, and many others who have braved the middle passage on a quest to find the mythical instrument to open the mouths of the gods.
The Afro-Horn first appeared in “Will the Circle Be Broken?”, a short story by Henry “Hank” Dumas in which three white jazz musicians and critics argue their way into a black jazz club. The patrons allowing them in, warning however, that the use of an ancient, uninitiated horn may cause harm to “uninitiated ears”. At the end of the set, the three white patrons are found dead.
In Brent Hayes Edwards’ Afro-Horn, he meets Henry Dumas in a bar in St. Louis while listening to the Arkestra. Dumas mentions that though he’s written about the Afro-horn, he’s never seen it. Although rumour is, Rashaan Roland Kirk is in the possession of one. Shortly after this encounter, Dumas is killed by the police and Hayes Edwards sets about finding the Afro-Horn. Read the full story here
Francisco Mora Catlett’s Afro-Horn project was conceived in Sun-Ra’s living room, while the drummer was living and working with him. It is a musical metaphor for the Middle Passage. Read more and listen to the Afro-Horn Project here.
This graphic story features in the Chronic (August 2016), an edition in which we explore ideas around mythscience, science fiction and graphic storytelling. In opposition to the idea of the future as progress – a linear march through time – we propose a sense of time is innately human: “it’s time” when everyone gets there.
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