Tag Archives: Greek music

The Sirens’ Song

– The Sound of Ancient Music

In this short video, professor D’Angour gives a lively introduction to the subject covered in more detail by the article that follows. Video courtesy of professor D’Angour and producer Steve Crabtree.

What song did the Sirens sing? As a classicist and trained musician, the idea of knowing the sound of ancient Greek music long fascinated me, but when I looked into the scholarship as a student I found it technical and unrewarding. In 1983 I sat the exams for the All Souls Prize Fellowship, and at the viva in a room packed with Fellows, Isaiah Berlin asked me ‘Since you’re a musician, aren’t you interested in investigating ancient Greek music for a few years?’ I replied ‘The evidence is too slight for an extended investigation’. After a shocked silence, one of the Fellows coldly observed ‘All the more reason to do it, you might think’. Having failed to impress the Fellowship, I embarked on a career as a cellist. Continue reading The Sirens’ Song


 – The Greek Blues

Ever since Sappho “loved and sang,” nine-time rhythms have been found on the shores of Asia Minor, in the islands of the eastern Aegean, and in the Dodecanese. Today they are represented by the 9/4 beat of the zeibékikos and the 9/8 beat of the karsilamás.

These two rhythms, in their several variants, and the 2/4 time of the khasápikos are also prevalent in the urban, popular music of the Aegean, which since the final decades of the 19th century has spread from its epicenter, Smyrna, to all harbor towns and so created that marvelous tradition of the rebetiko song. Continue reading Rebetiko

Tetos Demetriades

 Modern Greek-American Muse of World Music

Tetos Demetriades must certainly be counted among the many Greek-Americans who have directly influenced the culture of Modern Greece and the world at large. Demetriades was a singer, composer, and record producer of incredible importance not simply to the history of Modern Greek music but also to the production of ethnic music in the United States.

Album cover for one of Demetriades' records.
Album cover for one of Demetriades’ records.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, then, we find that a great deal has been published about this man in Greece and across the Internet. Unfortunately, much of this material contradicts itself. Having said that, a wealth of reliable documents exists on this man and his long career. For those of you who are unconcerned with history but who love Greek music nonetheless, you can stop reading this account and directly contact the University of Utah concerning listening copies of this man’s personal musical legacy. In the 1990s, a collection of re-recordings of all Demetriades’ known records, as a performer, were deposited by noted record collectors Dino X. Pappas and Andrew Dellas at the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. For those of you who would like to know more of this man’s contributions to world music, I offer this sketch. Continue reading Tetos Demetriades