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Greece Culture: Music and Dance

Greece Culture: Music and Dance Eastern Macedonia

tsamikoEqually rich in music and dance is the eastern portion of Macedonia, including many with asymmetrical rhythms. Traditional instrumental ensembles in this area include three kinds, one consisting of two zournas (zournadhes, the plural in Greek), and one daouli, a second with gaida and frame drum (called daires or dahares), and a third (in the easternmost part of the region, around the city of Dhrama) the Macedonian lyra (often two together), accompanied by frame drum (dahares). There are many villages in this area populated by Greek refugees from areas now within the borders of either Turkey or Bulgaria, as well as villages of Vlachs and Sarakatsani inhabitants, whose music is best discussed separately.

One area within eastern Macedonia with a very rich music and dance tradition is the Serres region, where the ensemble with two zournadhes and one daouli predominates, with some of the finest musicians living in the towns of Iraklia and Flambouro. Gaida and dahares are also played here. The dance called Gaida is popular in the area, with a slow and fast part, though with more complex steps that those of the versions of the dance found farther west in Macedonia, and sometimes the slow part left out entirely (in which case it is referred to in some villages as Nastrintzini). A different form of Gaida is danced in two villages to the south of Serres (Anthi and Flambouro), villages where settled Gypsies live, with steps very different from those performed elsewhere in the region. The Turkish word for dance, havasi, is used commonly in this region in combination with the dance name (eg. Gaida havasi), especially by older people. There are still other dances which have Turkish names, though there may be many Greek names for the same dance (as well as alternate Turkish names). In these two villages named above, there is form of the Karsilamas danced both with couples and in lines. When done with couples, the facing pair clasp right hands, with the left at the waist or in the small of the back. The rhythm is 9/8 (2.2.2.3). The step is done differently than in most dances of this name. Sometimes it takes only a physical barrier between villages to create a major difference in styling for the same dance. Such is the case with the dance Mangoustar Havasi in the villages of Kimisi and Podnismeno near Iraklia, the two separated by a highway. The difference is so extreme as to make the dance unrecognizable as the same dance. In Kimisi, the instruments used are zournas and daouli, with large movements and slow, high leg lifts by the men, while in Pondismeno the instruments are Macedonian lyra and dahares, with more subtle movements and low leg lifts.

A dance performed in many villages near the city of Serres is The Pardala Tsourapia, a Turkish name for the colorful knitted stockings worn with many traditional costumes in the area (though other names are also used, many of which include the word tsourapia). It is a dance for both men and women, in circular formation, in a 9/8 rhythm, found also in some villages in western Macedonia. There are still other local dances performed in this area, as well as dances also performed in western Macedonia such as Eleno Mome and Baidouska, the latter both in local styles, and sometimes in the style of the same dance done in neighboring Thrace. Panhellenic dances are also done in eastern Macedonia, such as the syrtos /kalamatianos and the hasaposervikos, the tsamikos (though less so), and even the zeibekikos.

Villages in the Dhrama (Drama) area in easternmost Macedonia have kept some of their traditional music and dances, more so than the seaport of Kavala. For example, the villages of Zpegroussa and Xiropotamos have versions of the Tsourapia (mentioned above), a form of the baidouska. In Petroussa, there is a dance known as Tou Mayirou. The instruments played for these dances are the lyra and the dahares/daires, though played by mostly older villagers. The gaida has largely died out, not only because (as in so many places where such instruments have died out all over Greece) the players have died, but also because many have stopped playing as well. It is difficult for musicians to sustain interest in playing when the events for which their music is requested are few and far between, and spontaneous music at the local taverna or kafeneio is less likely to happen these days when the television is almost always on. The gaida is still played though, in the mountain village of Volakas, north of Drama, where the isolation of the place, especially in winter, has undoubtedly helped it keep some of its traditions, which are especially important during the second week of January when there are masked mummers and men dressed as bears. Dances here are mostly syrtos and hasoservikos type dances.

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