“I bought tomato and finished my money…” Azmari program

The Ethiopian Highlands are home to a type of musician known as an Azmari who sings and plays traditional string instruments. Both West African griots and bards from medieval Europe share the same aesthetic. Azmari, a man or woman, can improvise singing and playing the krar (a drum) or the masenqo (a one-stringed fiddle) (lyre). A person who is devoted to God is known as a “azmari” in Amharic (to sing or singer). Since there is no term in Amhara for an instrument player, all musicians are referred to as Azmari. It’s believed that the Azmaris had been around far longer than the middle of the fifteenth century, when they were first mentioned. They were well-known social commentators who wrote eloquently on either praising or criticizing society. Azmaris had the opinion that even Emperors were not exempt from his wrath because they held positions of power. Azmaris was the first to report on any significant scandal that emerged. Feminine Azmaris flourished throughout Ethiopian feudalism. Like their male counterparts, they were musicians and poets. Male Azmaris’ spouses or girlfriends who have eventually mastered their male counterparts’ repertoire are commonly female Azmaris. Songs written between 1841 and 1843 by an English explorer by the name of Major William Cornwallis Harris portrayed the political atmosphere and opinions regarding Sahle Selassie’s rivals. (azmari).

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