Ethiopian electronic dance music

Making Ethiopian sounding electronic music is pretty easy if you know your way around Ethiopian music theory

which is different from western music in terms of modality, rhythm and musical instruments which provides a unique opportunity to come up with a new electronic sub-genre. Ethiopian music scales are predominantly pentatonic which contain five of the seven tones which is practiced by different ethnic people of Ethiopia. There are four Kiñits (scales) used in Ethiopian music
1. Tizita

2. Batti

3. Ambassel

4. Anchihoye

1. Tizta 

Tizta major

Tizta can be divided in to Tizta major & Tizta minor

Tizta major scales contains all major intervals or the notes C, D, E, G & A this scale can be heard in most of Mahmud Ahmed Tizta songs. The scale contains the following notes in the key of C 

Tizta minor                                                                                            

The Tizta minor contains similar notes as Tizta major but difference between the two is that for Tizta minor the second and fourth intervals are minor.


The Tizta scale is used around the world in western, Eastern Europe and in some parts of Africa it’s not indigenous to Ethiopia what makes Tizta different than the above is that the pace songs and the rhythms used not to mention the emotional aspect of the song which is used to invoke memories why Tizta is a called song of reminiscence.

2. Batti

This scale is best known for its popular Batti tunes played by Azmaris from Batti. The scale has various modal types which are very close to each other.

Batti major


Batti minor

Batti Lydian

Batti minor with raised fourth

Batti minor with raised fifth

3. Ambassel

Ambassel is another Ethiopian scale which got its name from Ambassel area in northern Ethiopia what’s with the wollo’s and music it must be the beautiful women inspiring this. I hope to visit the area in the near future and get proper inspiration. 

4. Anchihoye

Anchihoye is the arguably pure Ethiopian scale and it’s used for upbeat songs in mass celebration such as wedding songs. Its title originated from popular tune anchihoye-lene if you want to how it sounds listen to popular wedding songs I recommend (Tsegaye eshetu). I personally love this scale because it has the right elements for making Ethiopian electronic dance music if you are to make EEDM this is the scale you want. Anchihoye is mostly played with the infamous 6/8 chik-chika rhythm at 120BPM and above. Rhythms are very important characteristics of any style of music, which is written in details about in my book Muziqa I suggest you read it. 

Tigraway music

Other music in northern Ethiopia is Tigrigna music from Tigray region of northern Ethiopia is hard to miss with its unique drum pattern; Tigrigna music uses major pentatonic modal system. The two common scales in Tigrigna music are

Major pentatonic  

This scale has similar tones like of the Tizta major scale

Dorian pentatonic 


In order to make EEDM using the above Kiñits one has to use favorable rhythm for me chik-chika which is in 6/8 time signature has the best and the most unique Ethiopian pop rhythm where we should encompass both the melodic and percussion parts in to. The rhythm for EEDM in the context of chik-chika can be explained as putting three one third notes in the place of four quarter notes in a measure which simply means we divide our measure in to three equal parts the combination of this rhythm and the above scales in a dance BPM say around 124-128 will definitely give you crowd smashing EEDM track.