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Greek Traditional Music

Greek traditional (folk) music or “dimotiki music” as it is most commonly called, includes all songs, tempos and rhythms of the Greek regions (with the exception of more recently established urban areas). These compositions, in their vast majority created by unknown authors, exist for more than a century and their origins are located in the Byzantine period and Greek antiquity.

This group consists of not one but many types of compositions usually characterized based on the area where they are performed or created (Greek islands, Epirus, Pontus) and they are often related to the music of neighboring nations. Apart from territorial criteria, traditional songs can also be classified according to their content and the occasion upon which they are performed (carnivals, weddings, migration) or according to the musical, rhythmical, structural and literary characteristics (versed, 7-syllable verses, etc).

The following link contains a classification of Greek folk music based on the characteristics mentioned above.


Traditional / Folk Music


Generic texts

Chios, Greek Traditional Music
A few pages in Greek language, on Greek Traditional Music, by Nikos Ikonomidis. The website contains 3 score samples in gif format, song lyrics, and 3 wav audio files.

Greek Traditional Music
A very short page, in Greek language, created by Christos Kiriakopoulos and Konstantinos Markos, who draw a division of Greek National Music into two branches: "byzantine ecclesiastical music" and "folk music", and write a few lines on each one of them. There is also a a couple of audio files from Peloponnesian songs in mp3 format.

On authenticity and imitation
An article by Erifili Michailidou-Katana, that critisizes "hypocricy" and fake "revival" of music and dance traditions, at least as being organized by some "en-cultural" associations.

The Folk Music of Skyros
A Sotirios Tsianis' article (May 1989) on the folk music of the Greek island of SKyros, aportion of which (for the rest you are requested to pay a subscription fee) you can read here. This free part of the article is a brief division of greek music life in regions.

Traditional Music of Cyprus
Web page in the website of the Cypriot singer Michalis Terlikkas, with a text of his, in which he exposes his braistorming on saving and popularising traditional song, on the relation of Cypriot song with those of round-by regions, and on the accent of the Cypriot dialect.

Greek Tradition (Music-Folk Art)
Webpage of the 4th Junior School of Argiroupoli, mostly addressed to young students. You can find brief presentations of almost all greek folk instruments, short audio samples in mp3 format. Finally, a few words on traditional / folk songs, local costumes and dances.

Songs of the Sea
A collection of web pages in's web site, dealing with musicological topics on Greek traditional music, and specifically on whatever concerns the element of sea, expatriation and foreign lands, but also on western influences in the islander song. It also deals with the element of sea in Irish, Dutch, and Spanish songs. Bibliography.

Articles in newspapers/magazines

Summer Feasts
A small research presented in the "Kyriakatiki Elefterotypia" (10/08/97) on the summer feasts in Greece. The research reports the most important (religious) feasts for which local music and dance festivals are organised, but it also comments on the changes that these feasts have gone through by the use of new instruments, the domination of folk-like tunes, as well as the effects of exogamy and urbanisation.

Carnival songs of Domna Samiou
An article by the renowned music critic Yiorgos E. Papadakis, in the Website of the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, published in Elefterotypia (12/03/2003). He comments on the concert / performance for the Carnival tradition that held at the venue of TCH, in which the famous singer Domna Samiou and her colleagues presented songs and happenings, many of them having an implicit (but mostly explicit) sexual content.

Melodies of nostalgia [The sounds of musics]
An article byStelios Kalogerakis that was published in the "VIMA" (April 1999). Critical assessment of the phenomenon of young people showing great interest for traditional music (the "neo-traditional" trend), the teaching of traditional music in conservatoires and music faculties, etc.

' Inter-Balkan Festival " ' '95" [by the seashore '95]
Article in "Macedonia / Thessaloniki" on this festival, that dealed with the subject of differences and resemblances in the phonetic music of Balkan countries, and in which there were many participations of musicians and musicologists from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey.

Report on the Coverage of the ROMA in the Greek Press
A report in PDF file, with extracts from publishing on Roma populations in Greece. The last extract deals a little bit with the music of Roma but, for the author of report, "it does not have substance, as it continues repeating an idyllic, romantic picture for these people's situation".

"The dance of heaven's ghosts"
Article in "Eleftherotypia", concerning the "Dance of heaven's ghosts" a CD of the "Hemisphere" series of EMI, (1997). According to the article's author, the CD's accompanying text is full of inaccuracies and errors, not to dismiss the fact that the compilation's song choice is too much narrow and unilateral, giving a totally wrong impression of greek folk and traditional music and of social life as well.

International Meeting on Oud (Outi)
organised by the Cultural Institute "EN HORDAIS" in 29, 30 November and 1 December 2002 for research, artistic and educational exchanges in the Mediterranean. There were presentations of historical instruments, lectures for the development of the 'oud' from musicologists, researchers, and constructors, cinematographic projections. Also, the "faculties" and the contemporary Mediterranean tendencies concerning style, technique and repertory of the instrument were presented.

With the daouli and the zourna...
A text by ethnomusicologist Lambros Liavas on Greek traditional music, originally published in a special issue of the "ROM" magazine for Greek music. In the same web site there are also other articles concerning rembetiko, folk [laic], rock, and other music in Greece.

Local Music Traditions

Polyphonic Song
Web site for the polyphonic song, particularly that of Epirus, with extracts of texts, bibliography, discography, filmography, information on seminars, and exceptional connections with web sites that deal with the polyphonic song of other music cultures, to the "Apiros" company, and to the "Illuminations of the river bank across" radio programme.

Music in Konitsa
Web page of the Choir of Traditional Music of the Cultural Centre of the Municipality of Konitsa, still under construction. It provides a few information on the music of that region. The most interesting point is the apposition of names from known families of musicians (Mpetzaioi, Alexioy, Halkiades, Panoysakides) and popular traditional songs (peklari, ntanto, aeedoni [nightingale], leskovikiariko).

Folk Song of Grevena
Text of a lecture by Tassos Sevastiadis on the recording, promotion, and saving of folk song of Grevena (West Greece).
another text by Tassos Sevastiadis

Culture in Serres
In one can find a catalogue of publications, concerning music in Serres, by Y. Aggioplastis and Ch. Papadopoulos. Links, however, are idle. In there is information on dance in Serres, with some preliminary data on the instruments used in the area and the role of instrument players.

Music of the Pomak people of Thrace
A web site, created by the "Tamiion of Thrace" which deals with research on Pomak people, a minority in greek Thrace. The site includes many interesting information on their music, the pomakic folk songs, and their instruments (floyera, sash, gaida, daouli and toumperleki). English site (still) under construction.

Instrumentalists and music of East Thrace
A text by Stelios Kopsachilis in "Thrakiki Icho" [Tracian Echo], in 1992, with reference to musicians from Silivria, Arcadioupoli, Redesto and Constantinople, who were active by the beginning of the twentieth century. The writer also cites briefly the scales and the types of songs they used to play.

Songs from the Aggelohori of East Thrace
A text by Ioannis Ach. Barbas in "Thrakiki Icho" [Thracian Echo], with some lyrics of songs that his mother used to sing, with a few comments on each.

Music in Larissa
Web page for the promotion of the Arts in the city of Larissa. Some historical information on Larissa's music life, especially for the activities of the philarmonic bands, the Municipal Music School, and local choirs.

Folk songs of Megala Kalyvia of Trikala
Web site of philologist Eftimios Ath. Koufoyiannis, from Megala Kalyvia of Trikala. Some articles of his on folklore, education, history etc. As far as traditional music is concerned, there are two articles: Miroloyia-Dimotika tragoudia Megalon Kalyvion [Laments-folk song of Megala Kalyvia] (with song lyrics), and Dimotiko Tragoudi: i erminia ke i rizes tou [Folk Song: its interpretation and roots].

The Music tradition of Evritania
Web page of the Cultural Association of Karpenissi, with references to famous local instrumentalists and particular / characteristic tunes of the region.

Music in Peloponnese and Arcadia
Web site that contains: Collection of 118 Folk Songs from Arkadia, Peloponnese, but also from the rest of Greece· extracts from the book "Seeking our Roots" by I. Asimakopoulos, on folk, kleftiko, and guerrilla song, and lullabies. Also, lyrics and RealAudio and mp3 sound files. Finally, a review of the book and CD collection "Vioma kai Meraki" [Biome and Taste] of Stamatis Makris.

The Folk Music of Skyros
A Sotirios Tsianis' article (May 1989) on the folk music of the Greek island of SKyros, aportion of which (for the rest you are requested to pay a subscription fee) you can read here. This free part of the article is a brief division of greek music life in regions.

Music in Lesvos (Mitilini)
An excellent web site of the laboratory for "Social and Cultural Communication and Documentation" of the Aegean University. The site is divided in three parts: 1. Music practice in Lesvos from the 19th to the 20th centuries. (historical evidence and photos in jpg format), 2. Songs and tunes from Lesvos in mp3 audio files, 3. Musicians' biographies.

About the Music of Olymbos and the Region (Karpathos)
Web page exclusively in English on the music of the village of Olymbos in Karpathos island, the local instruments (lyra, tsambouna [bag-pipe], and laouto [lute]), the social status and role of the musicians. It also offers a few audio files of local tunes (Pano Horos, Syrmatikos, Kefalonitika, Arkistis), recorded during local glendia [festivities], in Real Audio.

History of Cretan Music
Article by Antonis Liatsikas on the History of Cretan music, published in the Cretan online magazine "Stigmes" [Moments], and divided in the following sections: Archaic marks, Influences from West and East, 20th century: the marvel of development, "Prwtomastores", The newer developments, The years of ordeal, Optimistic messages. Also, sound extracts from the CD collection "Prwtomastores of
Cretan Music".
In there is a list of other, relevant to Cretan music, articles of this online magazine in English.

An introduction to Cretan Traditional Music
History of Cretan music, famous Cretes musicians, the forms of instrumental and vocal music in Crete, dances. Very useful links to other greek web sites on Cretan music, or Ancient Greek music, and Folk Greek music.

Cretan Music (1)
Web site with information on Cretan Music: History, artists of years 1880-1960, Traditional dances, Instruments, Serenades, Rizitika, and Festivals. It might be a little annoying waiting for the loading of each page, because of the detailed graphics and applications in Flash.

Cretan Music (2)
Another web site on Cretan music, designed by Kostas Vasilakis, Theodoros Riginiotis, and Yiorgos Gavalas. Texts and articles, instruments, artists, dances, rizitika, mantinades, tambahaniotika, legends and traditions, a few samples or entire songs in mp3 format. Discography of the classic epic "Erotocritos". References to books and recordings.

The Pontic Music Home Page
Web site on the music of Pontos. A brief history of Pontiac hellenism, with short - but very comprehensive - reports on the music, the basic scales and the rhythms (there are gif image files with the basic forms of some of the rhyhms, such as dipat, kotsari, tik, serra etc), as well as some information on the most important instrument, kemenche. Links to other web pages.

Songs of the Pontiac people
Web page of the Federation of Greek Pontiacs' Associations in Europe. Some information on the history of song in Pontos.

Pontic traditional music in the modern era

Article of Pavlos Tsakalidis, who exposes his reflections on the status and survival of traditional pontiac music in the modern world.

Electronic Archive of Cypriot Traditional Music
Web site with information on the folk music of Cyprus, music history, songs (lyrics and samples in real audio), folk instruments, poet-makers, vocalists and instrumentalists etc.

The Greek Musical Tradition in South Italy
Web site on the greek musical tradition of South Italy, attended by Nontas Kitsos. The story of Greeks in South Italy, vocal forms, instrumental music. Mp3 files with poetry in Greek and English translation, guide to recordings of this music. Links to three other relevant web sites.

Expatriated communities / tourists' reports

A Germany-based association which was founded "in order to preserve and protect our traditional heritage, through music, dance, and costumes". The association organizes festival and performances of dancing ensembles, and aims to become an information centre for greek traditional music and dance. Their site, however, is probably not active anymore.

With the view of a greek-belgian association ,
Web site by Frank De Cock and the Greek-Belgian Association "Ithaki", with a text by Nikolas Galanis (in greek) on music in Thrace, Aegean islands and Epirus. At another page you can find lyrics of greek songs (not traditional, but modern compositions), in greek and dutch.

The Hidden Treasure: Traditional Music in Greece
Web page primarily of tourist interest, by Susan Raphael, who has travelled many times in Greece and records with great care the
curent musical activity, as it is expressed in taverns, panigyria [festivities], and private gatherings. She writes on all musical instruments and all regions of Greece, and she seeks publishers of her stories from her travels in Greece.
Web site mostly addresed to tourists, that has a section with information on on greek music. It covers basic things, a paragraph on each of the following topics: ancient music, hymns, folk song, kleftika, rembetika.

Traditional Greek Culture
Portal with links to other pages, classified in the following categories: greek folk-tales, proverbs, creeds, folk art, songs, music and instruments, dance, costumes, social customs and traditions.

Greek Folk Music and Dance
Web site by clarinettis Yannis Papayiorgas (John Pappas) that provides elementary information (in English) on Greek traditional instruments
(with photographs), instrumental ensembles by region and style, short history of the instruments and their status in music life. Some information on well-known known dances and their basic steps. Finally, information on local traditionalal costumes with some photographs.

Greek Folk Dance Resource Manual
Web site primarily dedicated to traditional dances, it provides links to a lot of Greek folklore institutions, and a chronology of Greek history from antiquity to our days. There is briefing on seminars and workshops on Greek dances, that take place in America, while you can also buy videocassettes with Greek dances.

he Greek Folk Music FTPserver
Web page that provides information on how to connect to their main FTP server, through which you can exchange sound files (wav or mp3) of greek traditional music. It is required that you also upload songs, and not just download.

The Greek American Folklore Society
Union of Greek-Americans that resides in New York and organises folkloric events, such as traditional Greek music and dance, revivals of traditional marriages, but also lectures, presentations and seminars.

The Greek Festival Index Site
Portal with links to Greek festivals in the USA.

The music ensemble "Taximi"
Fellow countrymen from Sweden that act jointly with Swedish musicians, playing Greek traditional music in various festivals in the
Skandinavic peninsula, and in events organised by expatriated communities in Greece.


Museum of Greek Popular Instruments ,
The museum owns a part of the renowned musicologist's Phoevos Anoyanakis personal collection of folk instruments. Unfortunately, the web page provides only elementary information, and its usual updates have to do only with the museum's events.

The bouzouki's long journey from rembetika to rock 'n' roll and beyond
Web page by Paul Kotapish with the history of 'bouzouki' (type of long-neck lute) in Ireland, through the pioneer musician Johnny Moynihan and Andy Irvine, that helped in the forming of a small Irish tradition of bouzouki! Links to bouzouki-makers, discography of Greek, Irish and American bouzouktsides (bouzouki-players), small bibliography.

The Oud (Outi) ,
Web site by Nikos Dimitriadis on Outi (Oud). He provides some of his studies, including small or big articles of his (in greek or english) on the history of the instrument, taking care of it, but also on Turkish, Arabic, and Persian music, as well as profiles of well-known musicians, with some sound extracts in asf format (requires Windows Media Player). Some recordings of him playing basic maqams (in mp3).

Folk Customs: The Clarinet in Greek Folk Music (Part 1)
Web page by James N. Stoynoff, on the clarinet in Greece. Brief history, the reasons why Greek and Turkish folk clarinettists strongly prefer the Albert-system clarinet as opposed to the newer Boehm-system.

The Clarinet
Web page in the network place of the Polytechnic College of Athens (TEI) for the clarinet and the folk clarinet (klarino). Historical and technical information, music for clarinet with short sound extracts in mp3. Connections with - relative to the clarinet - web sites.

The Clarinet in Bulgarian Wedding Music: An Introduction (Abstract)
Abstracy of an essay by Michael Rowlet about folk clarinet (klarino) music in Bulgarian weddings.

Instrumentos de la musica griega
Web page in spanish, with valuable information on some instruments used in Greek traditional music (folk clarinet / clarino, laouto, santouri, violin)

International Meeting on "ney" (nay, nei)
The announcement for an international meeting on the rim-blown flute of the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor to Persia, that took place in Instambul on 11, 12, and 13 of October 2003, organised by the cultural association "En hordais". There were lectures, concerts, and masterclasses with performers from all around the Mediterranean.

Pontiac Musical Instruments
Web page in the web site of the 1st Junior School of Yannitsa, that provides some information on Pontiac musical instruments (lyra, gabal, aggion etc).

Instrument-makers "Iapetos"
Web page of instrument-maker Yiorgos Karellas, who specializes in string instruments (bouzouki, tzouras, etc). You can buy ready-made instruments, or parts and accessories to build it yourself.

Instrument-makers . Dekavalas
One of the most celebrated instrument-makers of Thessaloniki, specializing in string instruments (outi, bouzouki, etc). You can order online or place your special request.

Institutions/ Associations / Institutes of Studies

Department of Folk Traditional Music
Web site of the Department of Folk Traditional Music, at the Polytechnic School () of Epirus, in Arta. It is mentioned that "Aim of Department is the growth and the transmission of knowledge on the study of popular musical culture and the provision of essential knowledge to the students, so that they can deal with this field in both scientific and professional level".

Folkloric Association of the Vlachs of Veria
The recording and promoting of vlachic cultural creation, being its main task, the Association has released a double album of disks, cassettes and C.D. with vlachic songs that refer to the stock-breeding life of the Vlachs, marriage, love, moving to foreign lands... In the web site you can also find some information on the Vlachs, the Vlachs of Veria, the vlachic language, the activities of the association, the vlachic songs, and you can also download mp3 extracts of the songs included in their most recent Cd release.

Association of Mikrasiates in Ptolemaida
with a web page with some information on the musical instruments of Asia Minor.

Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation
It was founded in 1974 in order to reseasrch, study, preserve and promote the contemporary culture of the Peloponnese, but of the rest of Greece as well.

..., Institute on Mediterranean Studies
Based in Rethimno, Crete. Head of the Institute was late Yiorgos Amargianakis, Professor at the Music Studies Department of the University of Athens. The institutes' future goal is to become an ethnomusicological centre that will provide all facilities for the research and study of greek folk music. Unfortunately the web page has not been updated since 1997.

Programme for Ethnomusicologic Research
Residing in the University of Cyprus, at the Deparment of Social and Political Sciences. It mostly deals with the collection and process of folk music of Cyprus. It provides a few audio samples, some transcriptions in standard staff notation, as well as links to universities, other ethno-musicological research institutes and magtazines.


Rhythms of Eastern Music
Catalogue of rhythms from the Balkan, Turkey, to Arabia. Links to other - relevant to eastern music - web sites.

Chios, Greek Traditional Music
A few pages in Greek language on Greek Traditional Music, by Nikos Ikonomidis. The website contains 3 score samples in gif format, song lyrics, and 3 wav audio files.

Kerosmusic - Record company
Briefing on this record company's releases. Very few scores in gif format, some midi files, and song lyrics.

Sound Files

Traditional Music
Web site which originally included around 500 mp3 files of greek folk music, sorted alphabetically, with a few comments on each one's song type, its origin, its scale and lyrics, the singers and other performers. I guess that the audio files have been banned, since they were commercial, so it is not possible to download anything anymore.

Comments on commercial recordings

Music of the Pontiac Greeks
Disc critique by Yiorgos E. Papadakis, in "Difono" Magazine (June 2000), on Nikos Papazoglou's production of a series of 14 pontiac songs, with the singers Michalis Kaliontzidis and Yenovefa Michailidou.

Iason - Tunes and songs from the Black Sea
Disc critique by Yiorgos E. Papadakis, in "Difono" Magazine (June 2000), on a production by Vassilis Kasouras (), which includes songs recorded by Philippos Kessapidis in the region of Sourmena, Black Sea, in 1998.

"The dance of heaven's ghosts"
Article in "Eleftherotypia", concerning the "Dance of heaven's ghosts" a CD of the "Hemisphere" series of EMI, (1997). According to the article's author, the CD's accompanying text is full of inaccuracies and errors, not to dismiss the fact that the compilation's song choice is too much narrow and unilateral, giving a totally wrong impression of greek folk and traditional music and of social life as well.


Repertories and identities of a musician from Crete
Article by Tullia Magrini presented at the EOL Symposium on Mediterranean musicians, in which she researches the life and the multiple musical identities of Kostas "Naftis" Papadakis, originally a Cretan folk violinist. Apart from knowing his island's repertory, he traveled and worked as a rembetis in Athens, while he later migrated to the USA, were he had to learn to play a wide range of greek folk music repertory.

Aristidis Moschos (1931-2001)
Two articles on the life and work of the renowned santurist Aristidis Moschos.

Our old musicians - Yannis Panayis (from Mitilini)
Interview of singer, song-maker and accordeonist Yannis Panayis to P. Ayaikatsikas.

Music recording sales
Commecial website for ordering CDs online.
Commecial website for ordering CDs online.

"Paradosiaki Moysiki": Greek Taditional Folk Music
Web page of the "Byzantinemusic Edition" with pictures from their Records' covers.

Association for the dissemination of National Music "Simon Karras"
Web page that just presents the record releases of the Association.

Blow up - The music stores
Electronic catalogue with music recording sales. It includes recordings of ancient Greek, byzantine (sacred and secular) and greek folk music.

Kerosmusic - Record Company
An overview of releases of this discographic company. A few scores in gif, a few Midi files and lyrics.

Saxon Music Store
This discographic label has quite a lot of CD releases with traditional music from all-over Greece (classified by regions)

Bibliography - music manuscripts - music book sales

Association for the dissemination of National Music "Simon Karras"
Web page that just presents the book releases of the Association.

Folk songs of North Epirus
In this web page you can find a book review of this book by Panagiotis S. Fotiou and Nikos V. Lytis, who undertook a long research on greek folk song in the region of North Epirus (nowadays at the state of Albania).

Bibliography of folk song
This web page is on a site mostly addressed to philologists, but there is some bibliography on folk song.

Folk Song
Bibliogrphy suggested by Alexis Politis. Presentation and comments on about ten books and studies.

Folk songs of Nikiti (Chalkidiki)
Web page in the web site of the Municipality of Sithonia. There are some extracts from Yiannis D. Kanata's book "I Palia Nikiti (Old Nikiti)", where he exposes his view on folk song and citew lyrics from songs from the region of Nikiti.

Folk Music of Paros
Book review of Manolis Ant. Chaniotis' book "Folk Music of Paros", containing 102 folk tunes and songs from the Cycladic island of Paros, in staff notation and byzantine "parasimantiki" notation.


Creeds and facts on the therapeutic qualities of woodwind instruments
Article by Dr. Athanasios Dritsas, on the therapeutic properties of woodwinds' sound, citing extracts from ancient philosophies and contemporary medicine.

Recognition of music structures in the Greek traditional music
Abstract of a research that deals with computer recognition of predetermined musical patterns in the context of Greek Traditional Music, using techniques such as "Dynamic Time Warping", and "Hidden Markov Modeling".

Gypsy Musicians
Web page on Roma musicians, particularly those of Romania, with historical research on their origin, their moving around Europe and their contribution in the culture of music.

Music ensemble that plays music from all the Balkan peninsula.

Balkan Music
Links to web pages on Balkan music.

Folk Instruments of Armenia
Descriptions and photographs of Armenian folk musical instruments.
Web site that includes information on the traditional culture in the Balkans, linking to artists (dancers, musicians, etc), and organising seminars of traditional song, instruments and dance.