The term Greek music encompasses a variety of styles whose history and influences vary from region to region, as well as musical genres that originated in Greece. It is based on both indigenous elements and a shared history with various occupiers (Italians, Persians, contacts with the peoples of Byzantium and the Ottoman Empire).
There was a special scholar music, the court music of the Byzantine Empire. It is described porphyrogenetically in the works of the emperor and scholar Constantine VII. A few manuscripts were found after the conquest of Constantinople (1453), but we know that the instruments and roots of this music came partly from the music theory of antiquity, with which it also inspired the learned oriental music, especially Al-Faraba.
Greek musicians, heirs of this tradition, we find in the learned oriental music played in Constantinople in the following centuries. This tradition is little known because it was at the same time overshadowed by Byzantine vocal music and Eastern scholarly music (scholarly music called “Ottoman,” which combines Byzantine, Arabic, and Persian influences and which the Turkish nationalist writers (Ottomans) of the 1930s even wanted to ban as non-Turkish). More recently, the Byzantine Orchestra of Athens has attempted to reintroduce Byzantine secular music, which remains modal and monodic, unaware of the evolution of Western music. The Byzantine scientific secular music uses the same eight modes as the church music.
Origins of Greek music
Greek music did not originate in Greece itself, but in various Oriental countries, and the Greeks themselves embedded music and musical views in a precise theoretical system. Greek music may have its origins in ancient China and Egypt, where the concept of ethos was equally important. A similar tonal system was also known in China and Egypt, in Babylonia and among the Hebrews with scales (Doric, Phrygian). Instruments like the lyre and the aulos were already known in the Egyptian and Hittite cultures.
Ancient Greek music is closely connected with the history of literature. It can be divided into several periods:
- Cretan period – the most important cultural center is Crete. At that time songs, so called paeans, were created. In this period the music develops for the Apollo festival, the harvest festival and the funeral ceremonies. The instruments from this period are: 7-stringed harps, drums and the Egyptian sistrum.
- Homeric period – two works of Homer come from this period: the Iliad and the Odyssey. These are epic poems that were performed by professional singers, called aojdas, accompanied by guitars.
- Transitional period – Athens becomes the center. Dramatic forms emerge and flourish: tragedy, comedy and satyr drama. In 472, the first amphitheater is built, seating 20,000 people.
- Hellenistic period – interest in tragedy wanes. In music theory there are advances in acoustics and aesthetics.
Characteristics of Greek music
It was a syncretic art, inseparable from poetry and dance (especially in the most ancient times there was no separation). We speak of the so-called triple chorea: dance, word, music, which are interconnected. Each influences each, separately they do not exist. There was no pure instrumental music as a separate category, although in Greece there were schools of kitars (guitars) and aleuts (aulos). It appeared only on the fringes of musical culture as solo playing. Greek music was performed heterophonically. Concepts such as catharsis, mimesis and ethos are inseparable from Greek music.
Greek music: folk music
The Greeks developed primarily folk music, more recently adopting Western, classical, or contemporary music.
The folk and rural music called dhimotiko traghoudhi can be divided into two categories:
- acritic songs from the ix -go to x 20th century, which refer to the gesture of acrites,
- klephtiques songs , from the xv TH to the xix th century , long walks decorated played in rubato chronologically the daily life of the Greeks heroic: Harvest, marriage
We also accent nearby with Balkan and church music. The clarinet sometimes replaces a voice.
Greek music: the popular music
Popular music , laiko traghoudhi , refers to all urban creations after the War of Independence in 1821. In a narrower sense, the term can also refer to the form of rebetiko popularized in the 1950s or all modern Greek music ” pop ” (a term used especially by record stores and the music industry).
Nissiotika is influenced by songs from the Aegean islands (Cyclades, Sporades, Dodecanese, Gulf of Mexico). Western rhythms play an important role [ref necessary], as well as violin and laouto.
In the Ionian Islands they developed their own style under the influence of the more pronounced Italian.
The music is either diatonic or chromatic, monophonic and modal, and played on a natural rather than a temperate scale, except in Epirus and Carpathos. Dromoi , used for example in Rebetiko and some of its derivatives, are modes designed in Turkish, such as Hijazu, Hijazkiar, Houseini, Huzam, Kartzigar, Kurdî, Neveseri, Nihavent, Aten, Rast, Sabah Segah, Susinak, Tabahaniotikos, Tsiganikos, Usak, etc.
Greek music is almost inseparable from many dance styles: sirtaki , kalamatianos , pentozali , tsamikos , zeimbekiko , daczy , soustas … Other instrumental styles are: pidichtá kastriná , taximia , kathistiká .
Many musicians are self-taught and lutenists. They often play in complementary pairs (ziyia), depending on the instrument: lyre and dacares, violi and laouto, zourna and daouli.