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The music of Somalia refers to the musical styles, techniques and sounds of Somalia.
Somalia has a rich musical heritage centered on traditional Somali folklore. Most Somali songs are pentatonic. That is, they only use five pitches per octave in contrast to a heptatonic (seven note) scale such as the major scale. At first listen, Somali music might be mistaken for the sounds of nearby regions such as Ethiopia, Sudan or Arabia, but it is ultimately recognizable by its own unique tunes and styles. Somali songs are usually the product of collaboration between lyricists (midho), songwriters (lahan), and singers ('odka or "voice").
Instruments prominently featured in Somali music include the kaban (oud), often with accompaniment by small drums in the background. Bands such as Waaberi and Horseed have gained a small following outside of the country. Others, like Ahmed Ali Egal and Maryam Mursal, have fused traditional Somali music with rock and roll, bossa nova, jazz, and other modern influences.
The first major form of modern Somali music began in the mid-1930s, when northwestern Somalia was a part of the British Somaliland Protectorate. This style of music was known as dhaanto, an innovative, urban form of Somali folk dance and song. This period also saw the rise of the Haji Bal Bal Dance Troupe, which became very influential over the course of its long career.
Somali popular music began with the balwo style, which was created by Abdi Sinimo. This style began in Dilla, and then spread throughout the area. It was a mixture of modern poetry and Somali dance music.
Abdullahi Qarshe rose to fame in the early 1940s as part of the qaraami style. Many qaraami songs from this era are still extremely popular today. This musical style is mostly played on the kaban (oud). Prominent Somali kaban players of the 1950s include Ali Feiruz and Mohamed Nahari.
The first radio station in Somalia to air popular Somali music was Radio Kudu based in Hargeisa. It started broadcasting in 1943 in English, Somali and Arabic, before being renamed the following year to Radio Somali. Somali music is now regularly broadcast on the state-run Radio Mogadishu, as well as a number of private radio and television networks such as Horn Cable Television.