Thursday, April 12, 2012

Yet Another Country Heard From: The Bagpipe in Greek Folk Music

“Men are like bagpipes. No sound comes from them until they're full.”
Irish proverb

Bagpipe music is prevelant throughout Eastern Europe. Since one of the main occupations in these countries (back in the old days, before industrialization) was sheep or goat herding, when an animal was slaughtered or died from natural causes, the first thing on the mind of the pastoral peoples was "what use can I make of the hide?" The gaida was a logical as well as a creative use for what was left of the dead critter.

When the shepherds created bagpipes and found they could make music with them they were delighted. Of course, not everyone appreciated the sound, but then the bagpipe is one of those instruments people either love or hate.

Most people don't associate Greek music with bagpipes. They are actually quite popular in that country, especially in the northern regions bordering Bulgaria and Macedonia.

The Greek bagpipe, or gaida, is similar to the bagpipes in the other Balkan countries, made from the hide of a sheep or goat, and fitted with chanters, a blowpipe, and a drone.

The first video is of a Greek dance which looks and sounds Bulgarian, Troiro, from the region of Thrace. (The dance Triti Puti from Bulgaria is very similar to this one.) By the way, there is a Thrace in Bulgaria, too.

Zonaradikos, a traditional Greek folk dance, is also from the Thracian region and related to the Bulgarian Pravo Horo. These dancers performed at a Greek Festival that I went to during the late summer of 2010. You can hear the gaida loud and clear here.

The next video is a dance from Greek Macedonia, also played on a gaida. I noticed comments have been disabled for this particular video. Unfortunately, there is a lot of contention among the Greeks, Bulgarians, and Macedonians over what constitutes "Macedonia." If everyone realized how similar their music and dances were they wouldn't be fighting so much.

For those who want to know why the name Macedonia has been contested, here's some food for thought from Wikipedia.

If you liked this (and I hope you did :) you may also enjoy Bulgarian Folk Dances and Their Greek Relatives.

If you like the gaida as much as I do these posts are must reads:

The Bagpipe and Bulgarian Folk Music (it is, after all, the national instrument of Bulgaria)

The Bagpipe in Macedonian Folk Music (you will see some interesting bagpipes here, including one with the head still on!)

Another Country Heard From: The Bagpipe in Romanian Folk Music

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