International  •  Mediterranean Traditions »

Greek Folk

The folk music (or dhimotika) of Greece represents a unique fusion of Eastern and Western styles and influences. The majority of older songs bear the influence of Eastern modes (dhromi or makamia) that are either Turkish or Iranian in origin, with the dance music of mainland Greece's koumpania group -- as well as the folk music of Macedonia and Thrace -- retaining their modal background. The music of the Epirus region is heavily influenced by the nearby Albania and Macedonia areas, and can be divided into three distinct forms -- dance songs, drinking songs and laments, or miroloyia. The Pelopennese and central mainland regions are home to strains of music similar to those found in the Epirus area; chief among them is palea dhimotika, a traditional folk ballad sung to dance rhythms. The liveliest musical culture among the Greek islands is found on Crete, where the music is highly syncopated (ideal for dancing), performed by an ensemble typically comprised of a lira player and one or two laouto players.