Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society Newsletter
Spring 2001

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Previous issues of Lyra
2001 Festival of Greek Music and Dance
Zournas and Daouli: An Inseparable Musical Tradition
Greek Brass Band Traditions Featured in Chicago
Music and Dance Traditions of Thrace
Chronis Aidonides
Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer
2001 Festival of
Greek Music and Dance
Make way everyone and get ready to hear Greek folk music like you've (probably) never heard it before: At the 2001 Festival of Greek Music and Dance! This year's concert, entitled Music and Dances from Macedonia and Thrace, will take place on Saturday, April 28th at the Rubloff Auditorium of the Chicago Historical Society. Trumpets, trombones and bagpipes will take the place of the commonly heard bouzouki and keyboard at this year's event, which promises to be unlike any other!

Three musical groups from Macedonia and Thrace will perform that night, bringing their unique and time-honored sound to the Chicago area. The first group, the Gevgelis Trio, plays two instruments-the zourna and the daouli. Those of you who didn't catch the last group of zournades who came to Chicago in 1998 now have your chance to hear them as they fill the auditorium with their distinctive sound. This is one musical experience that you don't want to miss!

Following the Gevgelis Trio will be the Chrysodaktyli Band, a brass band ensemble from Macedonia. Chrysodaktyli will play traditional Greek folk songs on the same brass-band instruments used in jazz clubs of New Orleans and Chicago! Trumpets, trombones and accordions are not exclusive to American jazz music, as their sound is deeply rooted in the folk music traditions of northern Greece.

Chronis Aidonides and his ensemble will close the evening with songs from Thrace. Chronis has received accolades and praise from many Greek artists for his efforts in preserving the musical sound of his birthplace. While many readers may not recognize his name, Chronis' talent has caught the interest of many popular Greek musicians, most notably George Dalaras, who wrote "The collaboration with Chronis Aidonides (in regards to a Thracian CD production) was a pleasure and honor for myself.  A unique experience that revealed many treasures.  Through his calm demeanor and simplicity that were derived from knowledge, Chronis Aidonides is a very good teacher.  His Byzantine voice is warm and pure.  When you listen to it you imagine you knew it forever, that it comes from everywhere; from the past, the present, the voice of angels, the voice of the people.  You close your eyes and you listen to the colors and places.  A voice that belongs to us and at the same time, fortunately, is so distant from today's confusing music scene.  We are grateful to you, Chroni Aidonide, for being among us and for your songs."

This issue of the Lyra is filled with biographical information on the musicians as well as historical and cultural backgrounds of their instruments. Take a look through this issue, and when you're finished, contact Orpheus for tickets to this exciting event! 
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Zournas & Daouli:
An Inseparable Musical Tradition
Christos and George Gevgelis from Goumenissa, GreeceBefore the clarinet arrived in Greece approximately around 1830, the main instruments in the mainland of Greece were the zourna (double reed wind instrument, a kind of oboe) and the daouli (two headed drum). Variations of these instruments could be found in most regions, even on some of the islands. The zourna is always accompanied by the daouli. This pair of instruments was called a zygia which comes from the word meaning 'a pair.' Many times the zourna is played in pairs with one of the musicians playing a drone. This creates a similar sound to the drones used in the ancient Byzantine chanting style of the Greek Orthodox Church. Although the clarinet, lute, and violin type of 'company' become more popular, in many areas of Greece, namely Macedonia and Thrace, the zourna type of music has continued to be popular to this day.

The zourna is an ancient instrument. Since antiquity, it has been found at open-air celebrations; it's loud piercing sound carries well thanks to it's construction. Directly because of this, in the middle ages the zourna was used as a military instrument- intended to provide morale for soldiers and striking fear into the hearts of opponents. The better zourna musicians employ a technique known as 'circular breathing' which provides a continuous melody.

The zourna ranges in size from 22-60 cm and is made from a variety of woods including olive,beech, cherry, and walnut. It consists of: a conical pipe ending in a bell shape with 12 to 15 finger holes, the double split reed, a small bronze pipe fitted to the top of the reed, a washer holding the reed and pipe into place, and finally a mouthpiece made of wild cane.

The daouli, in the form we see it today, has also been around since Byzantine times. Historical references confirm that, just like the zourna, the daouli was used as a military instrument to both embolden warriors during attacks and also to frighten enemy troupes. References to the daouli abound in folk songs and other texts since ancient times. Its importance in Greek music is indicated by the fact that the word, in some regions, is synonymous with 'musical instrument.'

There are quite a few regional differences in the methods used for the tightening and tying of the leather on the cylindrical wooden skeleton. For this reason, the daouli player himself is more often than not the daouli maker.

Goatskin, and only rarely sheepskin, is used for the drum surfaces. Other sources state that the best leather for a daouli is that from a donkey, followed in quality by that from a wolf and finally that of an ox. Once a skin is stretched around the daouli, it is dried in the sun. This is followed by a period in which the daouli is soaked in a water and asbestos mixture to promote the falling of the hide hairs.

The daouli player usually hangs the drum from a belt or strap over his left shoulder. The right side of the drum has a lower pitched skin, while the left side has a higher pitched skin. The daouli is played with two wooden drumsticks. The one played on the left is the 'vergha', a very light and thin stick. The one played on the right, the 'kopanos,' is much thicker and heavier. The main dance beats are played with the heavier stick on the right side, while the decorative and "in between" beats are played with the light stick. The instrument is tuned by the tightening of the ropes.

Today, this combination of zourna and daouli music can be heard across a very large geographic area encompassing Mediterranean countries, the Balkans, the Near East, India, southern Asia, and China. As a rule, in the eastern Mediterranean, most musicians of these instruments are of
Roma (gypsy) background.

This ancient style of musical expression and be experienced here in Chicago. On Saturday, April 28th, 2001, at 7pm, the Gevgelis Trio Zourna and Daouli Ensemble will be performing at the Chicago Historical Society. This trio from Goumenissa are fifth generation descendants of zournatzides and daoulierides. It will be an honor to have them in Chicago as they rarely perform outside of their home region. The concert is sponsored by SAE of America and the Orpheus Hellenic Folklore Society. In addition to the Gevgelis Trio, the Chrisodaktyli Brass Band from Edessa, Macedonia, and the Chronis Aidonides Vocal and Music Group will also be sharing the stage. For more information and regarding ticket availability, please call: 847-729-3406 or visit The USA tour organizers include the World Music Institute. .
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Greek Brass Band Traditions
Featured in Chicago
Chrysodaktili Brass Band from Edessa, Greece Brass folk instruments first appeared in Greece about 150 years ago. The Greek brass bands incorporated existing traditional folk music and gave it a local, unique character. Opinions vary regarding when brass instruments, such as trumpets and trombones, were first used in Greek folk music. Some claim that Turkish military bands introduced brass instruments to Northern Greece around 1870. Others trace their origins to roughly 1820 with the repatriation of wealthy Greeks that lived in Vienna, Austria. A third opinion suggests that the appearance of brass bands can be traced to Asia Minor, Constantinople and the islands of the northern Aegean Sea. They were particularly found on the island of Lesvos where they used to call the bands "fysera" (wind pieces). In central Macedonia, brass bands developed after World War II in the areas of Edessa, Goumenissa and Aridea and were most probably influenced by neighboring Serbian regions.

Before the brass instruments made their appearance in Greek folk music, other older instruments existed such as the zourna, gaeda (bagpipe), karamouza and flute. During the second half of the 19th century, folk music groups utilized several of the newly founded brass instruments. This included the Albert clarinet as the leading instrument, along with the trombone, the trumpet and the percussion instruments. The dominance of the brass instruments, primarily due to their higher volume output, was evident compared to the string instruments. While, in Western Europe, clarinets were manufactured with mathematical accuracy in terms of hole design, the more practical Greek musicians custom made the instruments themselves with hole openings suited to their own fingers. Musical accuracy was controlled during the actual execution by varying the air movement and utilizing impressive finger positioning techniques. The unique way that the clarinet is played in Greece is based on the improvisation skills and the soul of the player.

In some instances, folklorists overlooked brass band music because the genre was not considered "traditional". With the spread and popularity in Greece of Goran Bregovic's music from the films "Time of the Gypsies" and "Underground", that has all changed.
The Greek record industry's attitude towards the brass folk bands was initially negative, probably because their sounds were related to those of neighbor Slavic countries. This type of music was considered non-Greek or believed to be a threat to the national identity. Today, this attitude has ceased to exist. Until the last few years, anyone looking for recordings featuring brass band music in Greece was likely to be disappointed. A few older recordings do exist, but they are either mixed with other material or appear on obscure 45s and LPs. Several new recordings of brass band music from Greece have been issued, and they showcase the talent of many local musicians who are relatively unknown outside their own regions The Greek record industry is currently looking to produce and capture the festive elements of the folk tunes of Central and Western Macedonia.

The Chrisodaktili (=Goldfingers) first appear as a brass band in 1981 in Edessa, Macedonia. Mostly children of older musicians, they grew up within the traditional sounds that surrounded them and started up, like all bands of this kind, playing at weddings and festivals. Soon they were singled out for their powerful sound, their skill – because they are all excellent soloists, – but also for their grounded and disciplined mode of operation as a group. At present, they are considered one of the most representative and established groups, with a distinct sound of their own, in their performance of the traditional music of Central Macedonia. Today they have on their record many concerts, in Greece and abroad. For years they have been covering all cultural events of communities in greater Pella county and have participated in various festivals of traditional music and dance, mainly as accompanists to the dance group of Edessa.

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Music and Dance Traditions
of Thrace
The boundary of Thrace to the north is the mountain range of Aimos while its border to the east is the Black Sea and the Bosporus Straights. The waters of the Propontis (with the islands of Prokonisos, Pringiponisa, and the other smaller islands), the Hellespont, and finally the Thracian Sea and the Aegean (with the islands of Limnos, Imbros, Tenedos and Samothrace) comprise its southern border. To the west, it borders on Macedonia. Thus, a vast region is defined by a varied morphology and a myriad of customs of the inhabitants. There are great urban centers, such as Constantinople (400,000 Greek inhabitants at the start of the century), Adrianopolis, Philipopolis, Odessa, Alexandropolis, and many other towns where the inhabitants are typically involved in trade or small industries. In the smaller towns and villages, however, the rural communities retain their manners and customs, practically unchanged.
Based on this folk culture, one can detect small differences in the music, language, dress and customs of the Thracians from one region to another, but not of a kind that would point to a division of Thracian culture into Eastern, Northern and Western. On the other hand, one may roughly divide it into coastal regions, where the songs and dances, usually found in ports all over the north, are common, mountain regions, where one hears pastoral songs, and the plains, where rural songs and dances are dominant. Of course one must recognize that people of non-Greek origin also influenced the songs of each region. This influence was minor because, even though Greeks, Turks, Pomacks, Bulgarians, Albanians, Gypsies, etc. lived in the same region, mixed villages rarely existed. Each village had an ethnically defined population, or neighborhoods, and the relationships between the ethnic groups were kept mainly on a business level. Different groups rarely feasted together (after all, they did not have a common language, religion, or feasts), and, even more rarely, did they have mixed marriages. In the few cases where Cupid fired its arrows by accident, the lovers met with such public outcry that they went down in history through the folk songs of that time.

By contrast, larger towns and cities, consisting of separate ethnic districts, developed an urban conscience combined with socio-economic relations and inter-social competition and imitation that alienated each ethnic group from time-honored customs. New elements appeared which were foreign to all groups since they originated in western Europe. So the fashion of the times led the children of Turks, Bulgarians, and, even more so, the Greeks, to take piano and French lessons. The Greeks were always the most financially prosperous and had the closest ties to the West. From the urban centers, this cultural blend spread to the countryside, where the simple folk selected what they found to their liking and thought worth assimilating. So one finds various songs that were in fashion for a time and then forgotten in the cities, but were assimilated into a village's tradition and were sung decades later, e.g. as bridal songs. In the spreading of a musical style with common factors, an important part was also played by wandering musicians, who belonged to one of the three main ethnic groups. These musicians would not only play in their own celebrations, but, when the need arose, would also play in the celebrations of other ethnic groups. They knew perfectly well what songs and dances they should play each time but, either because they were asked to or for the sake of variety, they also played some of the dances from other traditions. So it was inevitable that names of dances, like the "Baidouska", should gradually enter the Greek traditional terminology. We don't know what the "Baidouska" was called by Greeks in the Middle Ages, but it is certain that it was a part of Greek tradition, since to the same rhythm there were carols and other songs dating back more than five centuries. In much the same way the name "tsesto" became common for the fast "zonaradiko" (belt-holding) dance, which used to be called "isios", "trellos" (mad) or "douzkos". The same thing is true of Macedonia as well.

The oldest songs of Thrace are the "Akritic" (border guards) songs, which can be found all over Greek-speaking regions (they date from the 9th to the 13th century). Around the same period, and classified together, are the paralogues (medieval ballads), most of the "Charon" (death) songs, as well as historical songs about events and persons of the period before the Fall of Constantinople (1453). The limited presence of "kleftes" ("rebels") in the period of Turkish rule before the Greek Revolution (1821) did not help the "kleftiko" song to flourish. It would be a mistake, however, to say that there is no Thracian "kleftiko" song, as several variations of "kleftiko" from Macedonia and other parts of Greece have been documented. Also, the few pre-revolution heroes of the wider region of Thrace, like Mihalbeis (ruler of Vlachiua), Yiannis Balkaniotis, Domna Vizvyzi, Captain Vangelis, Lefteris, and others, have their own local songs. There were also the historical songs in free narrative form. What one finds in abundance in all parts of Thrace are the songs for dancing, and the dances are numerous. Apart from the pre-eminently Thracian "Zonaradikos" dance in 6/8 time (3/3) there is the "Mantilato" in 7/8 time (2+2+3), the "Synkathisto" (in round or free form) in 9/8 time (4+2+3), the "Antikrysto" (paired) or "Karsilamas" dances usually in 9/8 time (2+2+2+3) and rarely in slow 7/8 time (3+2+2), the "Baidouska" (or "Tripato") in 5/8 time (2+3), the "Kasapika" (butchers' dances) in 2/4 time, the "Tapeino" (or Bridal) in 3/4 time, as well as the usual "Syrto", "Kalamatiano", "Ballo", etc. found in all parts of Greece. There also exist the less common dances, like the "Protopsoma", the "Kousseftos" (running), the "Laisios" (miming dance in imitation of a rabbit), the "Xesyrtos", the "Gikna", the "Troiro" (N. Thrace), the "Marantoi" (or Eastern dance), the "Diditzidikos" (camel-drivers' dance), the "Palaistras" (wrestlers' dance), the "Agitikos" (fire-walkers' dance) etc.

The instruments of Thracian tradition are unquestionably the Thracian lyre, the flute (pipe), the bagpipe and the tabor. Urban instruments, like the kanoon, the ud and the lyre of Constantinople, could also be characterized as traditionally Thracian since they were first used in Constantinople. Apart from these, there are also the instruments used in the art music of the great music masters, but were never assimilated in folk tradition, like the "lafta" (Constantinople lute), the "tamboura", the "nei" (cane-pipe) and others. Since the mid-19th century, however, the coastal parts of Thrace have been dominated by the island "zyia" (a two instrument band), composed of the violin and the lute, and sometimes also the santuri (hammered dulcimer). Much later, the clarinet invaded Thracian tradition, and today we have become accustomed to hearing Thracian music played by a band composed of a clarinet, violin, lute, ud, kanoon and vase-drum ("toubeleki"). In some cases, instead of the violin, we have the Constantinople lyre, while in the island-type dances of the coast the dulcimer is used instead of the kanoon. In other instances, the "flue (or "kavali") replaces or accompanies the clarinet. But unfortunately, these innovations have surpassed the bounds, allowing the use of the accordion or other keyboard instruments. Another unfortunate influence, and not only of Thracian tradition, are the new folk-type songs with low quality lyrics and music, which seem ridiculous compared to the marvelous genuine songs bequeathed us by the immortal popular Muse.

Chronis Aidonides Chronis Aidonidis, the best-known performer of songs of Thrace, whose reputation and popularity are on a national scale, was born in 1928 in Karoti, near Didymoteichon, Thrace. The son of a priest, he grew up with the sounds of folk tunes sung by his mother, Chrysanthi, whose fine voice was influenced by church chants and the slow songs of Eastern Thrace. At an early age, Aidonidis began to memorize the songs sung by farmers in the fields and revelers in the village square on the major feast days. While in secondary school, he received his first formal lessons in Byzantine music from Michalis Kefalokoptis, a leading local chief cantor from Eastern Thrace. He also began taking his first theoretical lessons from Manakas, another cantor.

After spending a year as a schoolteacher on a border village, he moved to Athens in 1950 and worked in a variety of positions at Sismanogleion Hospital until his retirement in 1988. In 1953, he was persuaded to overcome his shyness and his unwillingness to "sing songs outside of Thrace", and participated in a radio broadcast with the choir and orchestra of P. Kavakopoulos. This marked the first time that songs of Western Thrace had been heard on the radio in that region or anywhere else in Greece. A band consisting of traditional instruments accompanied the talented singers. The musical contribution made by Aidonidis in shaping what is known today, as the "Thracian Style" was undoubtedly great. Unlike areas such as southern Greece, Epirus, Crete and Asia Minor, there were no records of the music of Thrace at all, either on 78 rpm or 45 rpm. Thrace, however, was extremely fortunate in finding such an important interpreter just as its music was beginning to be disseminated by the mass media.

In the late 1950s, Chronis Aidonidis and Polydoros Papachristodoulou, a folklore expert from Eastern Thrace, began to broadcast a radio program on which they played songs from Thrace for a period of three years. Since then, Aidonidis' career has been one of continuous progress, and he has remained an exemplary amateur musician in the original sense of the word. He has avoided commercialization and the wear and tear of nightclub work, thus giving the measure of the artistic and human ethos for which he is known.

In recent years, Aidonidis has gained wide recognition, especially for his interpretations of the slow, sweet songs of Eastern Thrace with their characteristic Byzantine color. Thus, in the case of Chronis Aidonidis, we find the embodiment of Greek folk song sprung from Byzantine music in an unbroken continuity that has done much to gain him wider acceptance.
At age 73, Aidonidis continues to work on the music of his homeland. He has amassed hundreds of songs in addition to the original core of songs his mother taught him. Those songs are disappearing day by day, and only a few of them have been recorded on disc. His own discography is relatively large, and it includes: Thracian Songs with C. Aidonidis, Intersound 1980; Macedonian and Thracian Songs, Aidonidis, Recor 1980; Musical Ornamentation of Thrace, Aidonidis, Intersound 1981; C. Aidonidis, The Nightingales of the East, Songs of Thrace and Asia Minor with the participation of Yorgos Dalaras, Minos 1990; Songs of Constantinople and the Propontis, SDNM 1978; Songs from the fringes of Greece, Sinasos 1992; Constantinople is Fallen, Pella 1993.
Aidonidis is a frequent performer on radio and television, in concerts, and at other events. He has known and worked with many of the outstanding folk musicians in postwar Greece.

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Spotlight on Orpheus Dancer...
Barbara Siargos
Barbara Siargos

Skokie, IL.

Parents/Family From:

Preveza, Greece.


First year dental student at UIC..

Time Dancing with Orpheus Group:

Almost two years (time flies).

Thoughts on Dancing:

I have been dancing since the third grade and I still love it.  Besides the enjoyment of performing the actual dances, dancing has also brought me closer to my Greek heritage and has intoduced me to some of my best friends.

Favorite Dance:

Pidihtos from the island of Rhodes.

Most Vivid OHFS Memory:

The festival in Saginaw, Michigan last summer.

Favorite Greek Dish:

Rizogalo (rice pudding).

Favorite Place in Greece:

Definately my horio (village) Papadates, but Ia in Santorini is a close second.

Hobbies/Sports/Other Interests:

Traveling, architecture, and spending time with my friends.

Where I heard about Orpheus Dance Troupe:

My Greek school dance group.

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Welcome to new Orpheus members: Maria Daskalakis, Kostas Dovas, Vasiliki Friga, George Maglares, Tasso Nassis
Balloon3.wmf (14594 bytes)Birthday wishes: Sylvia Naum on April 1st; Tina Economou & Rebecca Moraris on April 4th; George Louras on April 5th; Elizabeth Economou on April 16th; Chris Vadevoulis on April 29th; Christine Minakakis on May 3rd; Barbara Siargos on May 6th; Elena Kekatos on May 11th; Patricia Minakakis on May 12th; Tony Louras on May 18th; Pat Tomaras on May 19th; Antigone Matsakis on May 21st; Irene Chiotis on May 29th; Tom Mihalopoulos on June 4th; Charlie Mellos on June 9th; Alexandra Usher on June 11th; George Pontikis and George Soukoulis on June 23rd; Catherine Grosso on June 26th;
Na ta ekatostisete!
Nameday greetings: Tom Michalopoulos on April 15th; George Kakis, George Louras, Georgia Lymberopoulos, George Maglares, George Pontikis, George Soukoulis on April 23rd; Irene Chiotis on May 5th; Kostas Dovas, Kostas Economou, Kostas Giannopoulos, Elena Kekatos, Eleni Leberis and Eleni Poulakis on May 21st.
Chronia Polla!
Congratulations to Voula Drougas on her engagement to fiancÚ Damon Papolovich. The couple is planning an August wedding that will take place in Greece. Kala stefana!
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Last revised:
08/18/2015 07:04 PM