Local music and culture (9th interview)
We now start the ninth interview of this program focusing on the local music and culture. We have with us Petros Ioannou who, based on his experience will talk to us about his music both then and today. He dealt and still deals even today with the music of Halki. And with us today is also Stamatis Kotsadam, musician, playing the lyre, which we will talk to us about today’s music in Chalki.
- Peter tell us, generally, what are the characteristics of Chalki’s music?
I had the privilege, culture i can say, to be a listener, yet a singer and volunteer at the same time. I miss the music knowledge, but I like music, nice music and even more traditional music. Local music has given me birth, i loved it and still love it and i am trying o give a meaning of what is happening now.
- What do you mean by Chalki music?
I mean an autonomous music, with different purposes, with the name of those who were called the ‘Ariadainas” the ” Giagkousi ” of ” Maroulitsa ” the ” Moiroloistiko ” etc.
- Did they invent this tune themselves?
- Stamatis, tell us is Chalki music the same as it was before?
No, I believe that music evolves everywhere, whether traditional or European or any other type of music. And Chalki, from generation to generation, evolves different ” presses ”, ” trappings ” with variations that are slowly changing the song. For example, there are songs that remain the same, but there are others such as’ ‘Vlacha’ ‘which has nothing to do with’ ‘Vlacha’ sang back then.
- Why do you think this is happening? Was the music differentiated even by the younger people?
No, because – sometimes I get it too when I play the lyre – you hear music when you play, you put in some of your own playing, so when you convey this to others, you convey it a little different with your own added variant. Everyone puts a bit from his own personal style. This does not happen only here, I think happens to all kinds of music, is the evolution of music.
- Stamatis, since when do you play the lyre?
I started learning and playing the lyre at 2009.
- Are there any other kids today that play or learn to play an instrument?
Some play but they slowly dwindle. There is someone here that gives music lessons. And the next generation after me, they do not know anyone involved with music
- I guess these 3-4 people that deal with music today are self taught?
Some started on their own, but then they went on to learn by the teacher, as I’ve been taught music theory and harmony, because I have a degree on the lyre. Others are self-taught. But it is important for someone to know the theory of music too, to help him learn more easily and quickly even the Chalki music.
Petros: I know very well that the purpose is one, it does not change. Stamatis says that it changes, I do not think so. Each song is playing like you feel like it. When you are a good singer and you’re good organist, speaking for the purposes of Chalki, the fact that you add or skip parts, this is down to your clumsiness. Only when you don’t express the dance then you do variations. The aim is always one.
- Which were the instruments before Petros?
Lyre, lute and sometimes bagpipe. The mandolin was one too, but as the principal Vakontios of the radio station of Rhodes says the mandolin was traditional instrument of Halki.
- I remember being told about 2-3 generations, that’s about 100 years ago, we had the mantolinates girls, i.e. the girls that played mantolin
Yes, there were indeed, from primary school. I remember that up to the 8th grade of primary school, I had to play Mandolin with . But perhaps not earlier.
- Where were these songs played at then?
In weddings, baptisms, in celebrations and in lamentations. They are playing the ‘Kalaerfistiko’ ‘and’ ‘Moiroloistiko’ tune. Also the ‘Canucks” a song called at weddings and funerals. There, the girls turn and sing around the relics.
- Stamatis, at the local music events what is the music played at?
It sounds ok, but it has been altered. As I have been told by my mother, my grandmother, but even more from old Mr. Peter, then at the feasts of Chalki there were 5 or 6 hours Chalkitiki music played and one or two hours something else like a kalamatianos or other traditional Greek songs. Today, there are four Chalkiti played, the songs of Dawn, Wallachia, the Sushi and the Kalaerfistikos, perhaps the Pentagiotissa. Each object, ie any music out of these 19 songs played , were actually made with serenades, with different words or play differently from everyone.
Now played these few Chalki songs after many Cretan, bolts Kalamata, the ” Kotsaris ” the ” Engineer ” songs from all the islands. They will play another 2-3 times in celebration of sushi and then when the ” Dawn ” song.
- Would you like for more Chalki songs to be played?
I haven’t lived then and now to compare them. I like it now and i would like to hear more songs from other areas such as Crete etc.
- Do people of your age like this music?
Yes. They like this variety. The older people but more like the serenades, the Chalki ones. At each festival getting old as Peter, Nicosia and others in order to sing. This way the ypass their time.
- Petros do you long for that time?
I’ll tell you an incident of the time. It was a Saturday evening, the small ” lights ” as called, on January 5th. Then we had the blessing of the fields, the big Sunday Lights throws the cross in the sea, the Monday of Saint John. Then we sat down on Saturday night in celebration at the cafe mama Nicosia. Epiphany Sunday, Monday was the wedding of my sister, the plumes of Charalambos. The next day was the marriage of the great grandmother of Traffic silver. We sat ie Saturday and finished Thursday. And we drank a lot. The songs were only Chalki ones.
We had poets back then, people who went lost, unnoticed. Who was Kazantzakis before them ;. Serenades in the ‘Stubbornly’ ‘ as they were called legontousan poems. Then anything could be said. I remember my Father with someone else, because they loved the same girl, I started from the afternoon until dawn to say singing to each other. From such a contest, I remember a verse:
Around around the eggs in the middle of lemon,
around the waist to wool (bite) to your pain go.
- And I have a personal experience. When I went with the children of the school of Halki at the excursion at ‘Kania’ ‘I was looking on the road to think of ways to keep them congregated, not to bathe or go elsewhere. Arriving there, i sent someone from the children a tape recorder and for three hours they danced and sang! That is, the local culture and music of the youth.
Peter: It’s in their blood. And then in Athens the Union Chalki people at ERT and many other events, always in dance and song we were coming out on top. The Sousta, the Chalki one is great. This was always was the first dance. Even when the king Paul came to Rhodes, when there were all Carpathian and even with several instruments and instrumentalists, the Chalki ones only with lyre and mandolin came first.
- Stamatis, you organise a party today, don’t the younger ones want to hear to some old songs?
Yes, who wouldn’t? The instrument player would love that. They just not are used in having fun with this music?
- Stamatis you have the experience you have a great experience. How do the others see the Chalki lyre and music?
I hear from many people, from lyrarides from lute player that the Sousta of Chalki is very ‘uplifting’. And especially in dance, has some nose, some musci feeling, some touches that can be made only there. He makes a lag, that constantly becomes crazy and faster and there. Everyone says that it is in these steps that are too hard and always awesome.
Peter: The dancer makes these steps. And does that wants. The first 3-4 dancers is everything. The others follow. The dancer follows the lyre player and the lyre player follows the dancer. There stands our Sousta. And the passion.
- And those who follow the dance but evenly between them. And have a great dance picture.
Peter: he impresses the Chalki music, especially when you say passionately.
Stamatis: And I think that passion when I play, is similar to that of old Chalki people. Just intergenerational everyone puts its bit of in it. We try to be close to the old, to learn better.
- Thank you very much. I hope that we will talk again soon.