Ethiopian Dance and Music

Ethiopia’s many ethnic groups each have their own form of dance and the people love celebrating with dance and music.

Dance and music are strongly connected in Ethiopia. In the western world, we think of them as two separate things but for Ethiopians, they are the same thing. Traditional dances and songs have the people’s own unique rhythm. 

Each of the Ethiopian traditional dances has unique body movements and steps and some ethnic groups use costumes. Some ethnic groups tend to primarily use the upper body when dancing while other types of dance involve the lower body as well. An example of the former is Eskesta, a form of Ethiopian dance that involves a lot of shoulder movement.

In Ethiopian, music is played on instruments such as the masenqo, which is a bowed lute with just one string. Lyres with various numbers of strings are also played and drums are sometimes used. Some groups make music with rattles. Really, how music is made in Ethiopia varies a lot depending on where you are and who you’re with.  

Amharic music is very popular and examples of it are available online. It is Ethiopian music sung in the language Amharic. There is also, of course, religious music created by Christians, Muslims, and Jewish people.

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