Category: Music

Benaki museum: Proto-Bouzouki music

By: | Post date: July 3, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece, Music

There is a prehistory to bouzouki music, that we really don’t know much about. The conventional narrative is that the music came to Greece with refugees from Turkey in the 1920s. But we know that bouzouki-like instruments were being played in Greece throughout the 19th century (the tambouras specifically), and this picture is only one […]

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 […]

Museum of Greek folk instruments: blurry

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

As you go down into the museum basement, you see a box by the side that is unlabelled, but instantly recognisable, for anyone that has watched a Grecollywood film. Well… I thought I’d captured it. I also thought that my instantané photography was charming and spontaneous, which it is, when it isn’t completely blurry and […]

Museum of Greek folk instruments: woodwinds

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

Flutes are another instrument that did not go professional, and fell out of practice in modernity. The distinction between the flogera and the souravli, the open flute and the ducted flute, is not one I have any idea about: The museum has a proud array of flogeras and souravlis: And in the bottom right corner, […]

Museum of Greek folk instruments: bagpipes

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

I’ll let the museum itself describe the two families of bagpipes in Greece, the mainland gaida (name used throughout the Balkans, Turkey, and Ukraine), and the island tsambouna (Italian zampogna):I commented earlier that drum accompaniment was the very earliest iteration of folk instrument bands. Drums fell out of use, as being too loud for recording. […]

Museum of Greek folk instruments: drums

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

Greek folk music used to run on pairings of a melody instrument, and a rhythm instrument. That principle kept going into modern times, but the membership changed. Stage 3, which there was a bit of in the mainland, and a lot more of in the bouzouki orchestra, was several melody leads alternating, and several rhythm […]

Museum of Greek folk instruments: plucked

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

The Greek versions of the dulcimer and the zither, the santouri and the kanonaki, are instruments of Asia Minor, and are shared with the Arabic musical world (santur, qanun). The hammer-struck santouri is fearsome enough: the plucked kanonaki (thimbles pictured if out of focus), with its fine-tuned bundles of strings, appears to me beyond the […]

Museum of Greek folk instruments: bowed

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

The dominant instrument of the Greek islands and Asia Minor is the lyra, a bowed instrument played on the knee, and that originated in Byzantium; I don’t have a clear sense whether the Byzantine lyra, or the Arabic rebab came first. In Turkey and in Pontic Greek, it is called the kemençe, and it is […]

The Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments

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

This museum was a delight, which is a bit surprising, considering it was just three floors of musical instruments in cases. But I had a broad grin going through it, seeing the historical development of instruments and instrumentation choices, and a couple of times being presented with instruments I’d never heard of. The pictured toumpi, […]

On the songs of Italian retirees

By: | Post date: June 11, 2023 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: Culture, Greece, Music

A random observation, as I sit in Foscolo café-and-cinema. Greece is full of retirees from elsewhere in Europe. Some of them find out how the place works; some of them pick up some of the language. There was a tableful of Italian tourists behind me. There was a tableful of Italian retirees in front of […]

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