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Ethiopian music is a term that can mean any music of Ethiopian origin, however, often it is applied to a genre, a distinct modal system that is pentatonic , with characteristically long intervals between some notes. The music of the Ethiopian Highlands uses a fundamental modal system called qenet , of which there are four main modes: tezeta , bati , ambassel , and anchihoy. Music in the Ethiopian highlands is generally monophonic or heterophonic. Dorze polyphonic singing edho may employ up to five parts; Majangir , four parts. In the highlands, traditional string instruments include the masenqo also known as masinko , a one-string bowed lute ; the krar also known as kirar , a six-string lyre ; and the begena , a large ten-string lyre. The washint is a bamboo flute that is common in the highlands. It has 6 holes. In the Ethiopian Orthodox Church , liturgical music employs the senasel , a sistrum. They are made from stone slabs or pieces of wood.
The foundations of Ethio-jazz
By Jim Hickson. From storytelling azmari bards to grooving Ethio-jazzers, Ethiopia has inarguably produced some giants of the world music scene. Reviewed in 3. Mulatu of Ethiopia Strut, Reviewed in Aster Triple Earth, Aster Aweke was the first big Ethiopian world music star.
Marked by eerie and ancient-sounding tones, typical of traditional Ethiopian music, Ethio-jazz also displays the sensual undertones of soulful jazz. Following in the footsteps of his uncle, Kervok Nalbandian, a renowned maestro in Ethiopia , Nalbandian took over as the head of the National Opera when his uncle retired. Often regarded as the pioneer of modern Ethiopian music, Nalbandian undeniably set the basis for the evolution of Ethio-jazz. The father of Ethio-jazz as we now know it is Mulatu Astatke. Born in in Jimma, a city in the Western part of Ethiopia, Astatke surprisingly chose to study aeronautic engineering in North Wales in the late s. Formally introduced to music and the arts during his studies, which allowed for many electives, Astatke discovered his natural talent and eventual passion for music. Astatke went on to study classical music and instruments at Trinity College in London and worked with a number of leading British jazz players. However, inspired by other African students in London who were presenting their music and culture to European audiences, he desired to compose and promote Ethiopian music.