OPA! Why The Mountains Are Black: Primeval Greek Village Music 1907-1960

This is not music that is from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Rather, its music from the villages of Greece, where smoke filled rooms were packed with dancers holding hands and swooping around in a circle.

You’re not getting bouzouki’s and broken  plates here; rather the sounds are produced by violins, Eb or C clarinets along with a variety of reeds similar to the Armenian duduk and accompanied by tenaciously rhythmic guitars. The result is infectious rhythms and dances that give hints to Oriental roots; the songs could easily be mistaken for Indian or Persian folk music of the same time period. Of the few vocals, the songs are shouted out with nasal and chesty abandon.

The styles are signature by the islands from which they come from. Before the days of radio and multi media, music was highly provincial, so sounds from Kalamata are distinct form Constantinople and Crete, and the palpable difference is quite exciting. Because of the primitive recording quality (which  has been impressively remastered), this is not for casual listening, but for attentive education and inspiration. There’s lot to learn from these concise tunes of passion.


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