Museum of Greek folk instruments: basement

By: | Post date: July 2, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Greece, Music

The basement of the museum has instruments that don’t quite fit into the narrative of public, festive music-making.

Bells. Lots of bells.

Greeks didn’t really do carillons: tuned bells were more for shepherds’ amusement, and noise-makers during carnival.

Cymbals and spoons came in for use as accompaniments to dancing—the spoons being a particular favourite in Cappadocia:

You’ll notice worry beads as well, the komboloi. They were used as a rough rhythm instrument in early rebetiko recordings, strummed against a tumbler.

Fireplace tongs with cymbals were an innovation of Thrace, but they are restricted there to carolling:


The prayer block (semantron) is used to summon monks in monasteries:

Sundry clappers and rattles, which children and monks might have amused themselves with, but would never have made it to a village dance:

The same goes for the whistles, and—this I didn’t expect in Greece—conches and horn bugles:


Presumably the bugles and conches came in for hunting, and with Westernisation. I mentioned that trumpets were used in the military by Greeks during the War of Independence, as they were Western-trained. The bottom left bugle was used in the railways.

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