Introduction to Ethiopian Music

by Kaethe Hostetter

Jan 18 - Feb 11
08:00 PM - 10:00 PM


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This course will introduce the variety of musical styles present within the borders of Ethiopia. Ethiopia features a complex mix of traditions, and in this course we will touch on the Somali influence that is present in the East, the Eritrean influence in the North, and a bit about different tribal traditions in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Eritrea. We will briefly learn about the instruments commonly used in these traditions and their construction. We will also discuss some of the great players that influenced Ethiopian music, and will connect their stories with styles they were known for to enrich our understanding of their musical context. We'll talk about the different qenets (Ethiopian modes), learning their make-up as well as songs in each one. The qenets are bati, anchihoye, ambassel and tizita. We will visit each of the regional rhythms: Gurage, Tigrinya, Gonder, Oromo, Arsi, Somali, Dire Dawa, and more. We will cover improvisation in both jazz and traditional style, as well as specific improvising styles for certain classifications of songs, such as shilela and tizita. This course is open to all instrumentalists, and while it is an introduction to Ethiopian music, students should be comfortable on their instruments, as this is not a technique course. We will mostly learn via call and response, though sheet music will be made available. Because of the highly ornamented nature of these traditions, however, it is much easier to learn by ear. The sheet music will mainly act as a memory guide to anchor one to the basic notes. 

Student requirements:
Instrumental technique: intermediate
Western theory: any level
Modal music theory: any level
Sight reading: any level
Transposition: any level
Learning by ear: basic
Composition: any level
Improvisation: any level

Class Schedule

In case a class is cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances, one or more additional make-up classes will take place at the same time on the same weekdays following the last week of classes.

Jan 1808:00 PM10:00 PM
Jan 2108:00 PM10:00 PM
Jan 2508:00 PM10:00 PM
Jan 2808:00 PM10:00 PM
Feb 108:00 PM10:00 PM
Feb 408:00 PM10:00 PM
Feb 808:00 PM10:00 PM
Feb 1108:00 PM10:00 PM