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Leros Dances and music from the fishermen's festival in Panteli 9 September 2006

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In Leros day breaks and fades with song. It is with these that the sun raises and sets. One tune succeeds another, and all together welcomes the boat of life that comes and goes, and over again.

Each tune is meant to express one sole thing: the unique aroma of every moment in man's life: love and affection, fun and entertainment, wedding, self-sarcasm, sleep, emigration and death.

By songs of dawn, Lerians put their nightlong feast to sweet sleep. Exhausted by dancing, they sit around the table and absorb the pink of sunrise in melancholy love distichs (two-verse stanzas): a little bird at dawn was sadly weeping, for it had pain in the heart-, and its wing was chopped (CD 1, #14).

Airs occupy a special place in their souls.They come back time and again, full of  "ahi's" (sighs). They are free tunes to sit and listen to, similar to the slow "table" airs of the mainland; improvised melodies, completed with time, carrying the traditional style. They bear the names of old-time musicians who first composed them, or party-goers who loved them in a special way, so that they longed to listen to them and kept on asking for them at social gatherings, or loved to sing them. Their titles show that there always were and there will always be members of a community that stand out, whose sensitivity becomes a beacon of light, who act as a magnetic pole for the rest. Perhaps one day, next to the titles "Hadjidakis's Magnus Eroticus" or "Theodorakis's Dignum Est", one will not be estranged by the likes of Prouzos's, Yiannoukas's, Markatsos's, Yiangoulas's, Bilalis's, Loulourgas's or Lindos's air. The poetic themes of the songs vary. Sometimes full of nostalgia: when shall we set sail, that I sit at the helm, so I see Leros's moun tains and my trials be foregone? (Prouzos's, CD 1, #1) often filled with the emigrant's plaint: ahi, could I only, foreign land, and were it up to me, I'd let no one else fly off away from home (Yiannoukas's, CD 1, #2) other times talking of this world's vanity: I'm tired of my youth; I want to sell it out; I'd like to find a gallant man so it wouldn't be wasted (Markatsos's, CD 1, #4) or I haven't savoured my youth enough; I must not die, like a blossom I wither and lose grip of my life {Yiangoulas's, CD 1, #5) at times flowing with liquid desire I wish I were the perfume you scent your hair with, so I could penetrate your heart with every breath you take (Bilalis's, CD 1, # 7) or I saw you and languished and leant against a wall, and lost track of the small-talk I had for you prepared (Loulourgas's, CD 1, #10) reminiscent of the Cretan mantinada: I mean to tell you plenty, but lose it when I see you, and by my very love I start the wrong conversation sometimes with distichs of folk wisdom: if a man be of good breed, what good are backgrounds? (Lindos's, CD 1, # 12), also suggesting another mantinada: when the ram is of good breed, the fence cannot contain him; it is the man that makes the breed, and not the breed the man.

It is with xenastrefa or peismatica ("reverses" or "teasers") that Lerians exercise and receive sarcasm. They pick on others with jokes, sharp ones at times, while being picked on by the same token. Witty teasing, a feature of healthy social coexistence, is a Lerian's perpetual concern. This category includes sarcastic songs of the Carnival, as in down at the seashore sands, crabs hold a wedding; I was invited too, pasta gone sour delightfully played and sung by bagpiper Dimitris Lindos, who can tell time by just looking up at the stars.

Pastica are wedding songs. One hears praises for the bride and the groom, the bestman, their parents and relatives. Female voices singing here come down, Madonna, with your only Son (CD 1, #9), and also Emilia Hatzidaki's old unpublished recording (CD 1, #19), have the soft suppleness of a wedding dress and the sweetness of a woman becoming bride. The groom's song: we earned ourselves the groom through our kind words (CD 2, #15) is sung here by young men of the island. Listening to them one gets the impression that their voices ooze out of their backs and arms, confident that "man deserves a woman”.

Lullabies are probably everybody's front door to life. And mothers become the angels nurturing newly born infants with tender melody. Babies ought to be blessed, if they are to start their life in such beautiful melodious sound, full of piety, as voices in this recording: those of Irene Koutsanelou (CD 1, #6) and Angelica Tahliabouri (CD 2, #12).

Greek Dances encountered in Leros are: Lericos or stavrotos (issos), syrtos, calamatianos, sirba, ballos, sousta, “ta tria”, “mechanicos”, passumaki (slipper), and three more teasing dances: skoupa (broom) , piperi (pepper) , evzonakia; alongside these, the Anatolian dances of zeybekiko and karsilamas.

Special reference ought to be made not so much of songs strongly influenced by the Anatolian coast in words and music (Black-handled dagger, CD 2, #8; Yiala, CD 2, #10; Yiangoulas's, CD 1, #5) as of the "wind" rising from the lips of the two oldest participants in the present edition: Yiangos Bakas and Yiangos Koutouzos also known as Hehas. Their voices carry the colour first gazed upon by their eyes: a vast blue. This image turns to memory only to pour out into wavy words, to spread around and embrace the castle way up there, taking hold of our souls. T ransition from joy to absolute fulfilment comes easy. All it takes is a little taste of Lerian air and a voice, full of scents and fragrances, singing: Like the air at Smalos, which is venerated, I sit and await you, my darling love-bird This is true of everything: either you love at first sight, or you never do.

 

Thanassis Moraitis

            August 1998

 

CD1 CD2
  1. Του Προύζου / Prouzos's
  2. Λέρικος (οργανικό) / Lericos (instrumental)
  3. Του Γιαννουκά / Yiannoukas's
  4. Λέρικο έρι (του Μαρκάτσου) / Lerian eri (Markatsos's)
  5. Του Γιαγκούλα / Yiangoulas's
  6. Νανούρισμα / Lullaby
  7. Του Μπιλάλη / Bilalis's
  8. Σούστα τραγουδιστή / Sung sousta
  9. Παστικά / Pastica
  10. Του Λουλουργά / Loulourgas's
  11. Γέρος (οργανικό) / Elder (instrumental)
  12. Του Λίντου / Lindos's
  13. Σούστα Λέρου (οργανικό) / Lerian sousta (intrumental)
  14. Της αυγής / Dawn song
  15. Σίρμπα (οργανικό) / Sirba (instrumental)
  16. Παπάς / Priest
  17. 'Ελα να πάμεν όξω / Come let us go outside
  18. Καριώτικα (οργανικό) / Icarian dance (instrumental)
  19. Παστικά / Pastica
  1. Γιάλα / Yiala
  2. Του Γιαννουκά / Yiannoukas's
  3. Λέρικα σταυρωτά (οργανικό) / Lerica Stavrota (instrumental)
  4. Σούστα (οργανικό) / Sousta (instrumental)
  5. Του Καντούνη / Kandounis's
  6. Μες στα πετρωτά / On the rocky site
  7. Ροδίτικο ( οργανικό ) / Rhodian dance (instrumental)
  8. Μαχαίρι μαυρομάνικο / Black-handled dagger
  9. Ξένος εδώ, ξένος εκεί / An alien here, an alien there
  10. Το έρι του Σκουμπουρδή / Skoumbourdis's eri
  11. Ακριτικό / Acritic song
  12. Νανούρισμα / Lullaby
  13. Του Νισύριου / Nissyrios's
  14. Σούστα Λέρου (οργανικό) / Lerian sousta (instrumental)
  15. Του γαμπρού / For the groom
  16. Αποκριάτικο / Carnival song
  17. Καλύμνικος σκοπός / Calymnian air
  18. Για παρηγόρησε κι εμέ / Do comfort me too

 Κεντρική διάθεση / Distribution : 

" Η ΑΡΤΕΜΙΣ ", Πλάτανος, 85400 Λέρος, Ελλάδα / " H ARTEMIS ", Platanos, 85400 Leros, Greece

 

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