Various Artists

Folk Music of Ethiopia

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Ethiopia is a musically diverse nation. As Harold Courlander wrote in 1951 in the introduction to Folk Music of Ethiopia, "Speaking of Ethiopian music is like speaking of the music of North America or Europe. There are many varieties of it, stemming out of different cultures and traditions." The first two cuts on this Folkways release highlight this poly-musical sensibility. "Oh My Country" features the begenna (harp) and the relaxed timbre of a man's tenor vocals. Track two, on the other hand, showcases the shambukaw, a four-holed bamboo or metal flute. Recorded in what would become modern-day Eritrea, this busy and angular piece contrasts sharply with the warmly mellow first track. The player's melodic runs dart playfully, sounding more like bebop than traditional folk music. From drums and lyres to flutes and stone gongs, the variation of tones and performances heard on Folk Music of Ethiopia serves as a valuable introduction to the history of Ethiopian and Eritrean musics.

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