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The four traditions of mandolin music in Greece

The presence of the mandoline in Greece is located in the late 19th century and is linked to four different music traditions: Smyrnean songs, Athenian song, Eptanisian serenade and Cretan dances. Each tradition originates from another region. The repertoire and wealth of the Greek ‘mandolin’ is characterized by an impressive diversity of rhythms, harmonies, scales and melodies – due to the creative assimilation of both oriental and Western European influences. Since the music was passed from generation to generation by oral transmission and because performers of traditional music are usually at an advanced age, there is too little documentation on the performance practice.

This dissertation wants to examine which repertoire defines each of the four traditions as well as which factors and historical events influenced the instrument's music, playing techniques and music performance. As well as what specific mandolin playing techniques and style one needs to play the music of those four traditions today.

The purpose of the project is to explore, document and record the repertoire, to look at historical events that influenced the mandolin music and to provide a comprehensive and clear description of these traditions. Fieldwork will provide a better overview of the repertoire and insights about the geographical and stylistic characteristics.

Promoter: Yves Senden