What is Ethiopian Amharic music?


Quick Answer

Ethiopian Amharic music is the classical or contemporary music associated with the Amhara people of northern Ethiopia. Amharic music typically contains lyrical content in the Semitic Amharic language, rather than Arabic or English.

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Full Answer

Amharic is an officially recognized language spoken throughout Ethiopia since the Middle Ages, originally sourced from the Semitic Amhara people of the rural northern portion of the country. As of 2015, the Amharic people are no longer a self-contained ethnic group, and their language is now a widespread, official language of Ethiopia. Amharic music is therefore not a contained genre, but encompasses a range of Ethiopian musical styles.

Amharic musicians and performers include Yirga Dubale, Tsehay Kassa, Hailu Mergia, Animut Kinde and Jacky Josse. Modern Amharic music is often upbeat, rhythmic, heavily syncopated, electronic, and with many interwoven voices. It is widely distributed, with performers producing music videos to accompany their singles. Classical Amharic music oftentimes features call and response vocals, stringed instruments, horns, and rhythmic clapping.

Amharic Mezmur is Ethiopian Orthodox or Protestant gospel music. The lyrical content is thematically Christian, and the style is much simpler than modern Amharic dance music. Amharic Menzuma is Amharic-language music with Islamic content. Mezmur and Menzuma oftentimes feature a solo vocalist backed by pared-down instrumentals.

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