You've got to be joking.
Suggest that interested parties read any/all of the liner notes to any/all of the CDs in the Ethiopiques series. Francis Falceto (the series producer) and all of the other writers who've contributed to the series are incredibly knowledgeable on the subject(s) at hand - which are awfully diverse, as the series goes far beyond Amharic pop music from the area around Addis.
See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2859.htm - here's a relevant quote:
Also, some history (and some matters of debate):Ethiopia's population is highly diverse. Most of its people speak a Semitic or Cushitic language. The Oromo, Amhara, and Tigreans make up more than three-fourths of the population, but there are more than 77 different ethnic groups with their own distinct languages within Ethiopia. Some of these have as few as 10,000 members. In general, most of the Christians live in the highlands, while Muslims and adherents of traditional African religions tend to inhabit lowland regions. English is the most widely spoken foreign language and is taught in all secondary schools. Amharic is the official language and was the language of primary school instruction but has been replaced in many areas by local languages such as Oromifa and Tigrinya.
etc. ....Herodotus, the Greek historian of the fifth century B.C. describes ancient Ethiopia in his writings. The Old Testament of the Bible records the Queen of Sheba's visit to Jerusalem. According to legend, Menelik I, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, founded the Ethiopian Empire. Missionaries from Egypt and Syria introduced Christianity in the fourth century A.D. Following the rise of Islam in the seventh century, Ethiopia was gradually cut off from European Christendom. The Portuguese established contact with Ethiopia in 1493, primarily to strengthen their influence over the Indian Ocean and to convert Ethiopia to Roman Catholicism. There followed a century of conflict between pro- and anti-Catholic factions, resulting in the expulsion of all foreign missionaries in the 1630s. This period of bitter religious conflict contributed to hostility toward foreign Christians and Europeans, which persisted into the 20th century and was a factor in Ethiopia's isolation until the mid-19th century.
I'm especially skeptical due (among other things) to the fact that no European nation was able to colonize Ethiopia until the Italians invaded in 1935! Western music was known to some (but certainly not all) Ethiopians before then, but very, very few people were able to get any kind of formal training in Western music, let alone other forms of Ethiopian music. (Outside of the upper classes and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, that is.) And many regions of the country are geographically isolated - meaning that large parts of the population have only recently come into contact with Western (and West African) cultural influences.
This is a good place to start, re. history and other things - the disc has excellent notes, which go far toward clarifiying the short history of outside influences on Ethiopian music, among upper-class Amhara, anyway... And that's a tiny, tiny part of the different cultures/kinds of music found in Ethiopia, Eritrea and neighboring countries in the Horn of Africa.
So far, music from ethnic groups other than the Amhara has been very hard to come by, but here are a few titles from the Ethiopiques series (there are more):
(Music of Eritrea, also Tigray music.)
Both of the anthologies (Rounder Records) feature non-Amharic music, a lot of it very rare. (The titles are a bit misleading, but the cover shots aren't.)
Here's some info. on the cuts on Vol. 1:
Vol. 2 is also a mixture of Amharic and other music: Anuak thumb piano, more Nuer harp, etc. etc. Links and samples on the Rounder site:Ethiopia has many languages and styles of music. These recordings were made in the Empire of Ethiopia in 1971. The Ethiopian urban music was recorded in rooms in Addis Ababa. The instruments are: the masenko, a one-string fiddle; the craar, a gut strung lyre; the bagana, a large lyre; washint flutes; and kabaro drums. The vocal styles include a religious poem accompanied by the bagana and Amharic love poetry sung with craar playing by Mary Armeede. The Afar divination chant and flutes were recorded in the Danakil Desert. The Anuak thumb piano, Nuer harp song and dance drumming were recorded near the Sudan border, and the Konso dance was recorded near the Kenya border.
Vol. 1 (http://www.rounder.com/index.php?id=...atalog_id=4022) and Vol. 2 (http://www.rounder.com/index.php?id=...talog_id=4021).
Just found out about these - music from various parts of southern Ethiopia:
This, too, though not confined to the south (I think it's out of print, too):