Πέμπτη, 27 Ιανουαρίου 2011

Music - dance style of the Vlach - Aromanian speaking Greeks


The subject is huge and it is certain that it can not be exhausted in a few lines. Just from our experience, and from documented evidence of great scientists and researchers, we will try to ‘lighten’ the matter in an understandable way and writing for the simple reader.
  Firstly, it should be noted that traditional dance today, in the urban environment we live in, we like it or not, has changed, since we do not live anymore in traditional society. Today, the character of   traditional dance has to do more with entertainment than old customs and social function. It has been group-oriented, a lot of associations-clubs are established and generally there is a different evolution. Nevertheless, the practice of dance in our society contains elements of both worlds (traditional-urban), a fact that naturally happens to the Vlach-Aromanian speaking Greeks, too. The particular Vlach-Aromanian linguistic idiom and the negatively charged term "Vlach", in relation to the effects of the Romanian propaganda, do not prevent Vlach-speaking Greeks today to express their musical identity and there is no reason for their self-pity and isolation.
   Now, one, looking the music and dance style of the Vlachs in Greece in their places (more Epirus, Thessaly and Macedonia) can easily and clearly note their Hellenism, in terms of dance, rhythm and music. We can support, indeed, that their slow, magnificent and ‘Dorian’ style is closer to the ancient  Greek way. Vlach-speaking people dance and sing slower and heavier than their compatriots even in the same areas where they live with them. For example,  Vlachic  Beratic dances of  7 beats  whicn turn in 2 beats (in rhythm)  are slower than those of Thessaly (e.g. melody ‘I go  to vineyard’-‘beno mes t’ampeli’-Tasia). Also ‘Sigathisti’ wedding dances of Metsovo, Grevena (Vlach villages) are slower than the corresponding Sigathisti’ dances   of non Vlachic neighbouring areas. The same happens in ‘Tsamiko’ dance and slow   melodies in 5 beats (Karapataki, Leonidas).


   So, we personally, do not see any particular difference, except speed in music and dance. Their   music rhythm (beats) is exactly the same as the Greek one: 2 / 4, 3 / 4, 5 / 4, 7 / 4, 8 / 4. There is, sometimes, a difference in the kinetic part of the dances but not in beats (rhythm) and this is natural for every Greek region. For example: ‘Zaharoula’ dance  from  the Vlachs of Mount  Vermion -in movement- looks like ‘Paitouskino’ dance of Aridea (Macedonia). The dances‘Yanni Costa’,‘Balatsos’, ‘Sygathistos’ from Sirako (Epirus) have a specific kinetic pattern but the rhythm (beats) is  exactly like Zagori and Vlacho-Zagori (Epirus) villages (5 beats). The dances ‘Hatzistergios’ and ‘Vlahoula’ of Vlachs in Eastern Macedonia, in movement resemble to the dances of the local people  in this particular area. ‘Vovousiotiko’ and ‘Metsovitiko’ dances (Epirus), though they are ‘sigathista’ (8 beats) in rhythm, follow the circle shape. ‘Fragkitsa’ dance from Vlachs of Mount Paiko-Macsdonia has a special kinetic pattern in 5 beats .Finally ‘Bairatse’dance from Vlahokleisoura (Vlachs from Florina area) has the simple ‘two steps’ Vlachic kinetic pattern, instead of  the complicated  kinetic pattern of ‘Poustsieno’dance  of  Florina (it has the rhythm of 16  beats of ‘Poustsieno’)
   As it is clear, the difference (which exists in all Greek dances) is due, firstly, to  the influence of the areas  where Vlach-speaking Greeks moved or relatives Greek populations (Mount Vermio, Mount Paiko,  Eastern Macedonia, etc.) and, secondly,  to the normal variation (diversity) because of their very mountainous and isolated area (Metsovo, Vovousa,  Grammos, Aetomilitsa, Syrako, Kalarites, etc.).
   Therefore, the only essential difference lies in the use of the Vlach-Aromanian idiom (Enlatinization during t Roman Empire); this does mean that the Vlach-speaking Greeks do not have songs in Greek. On the contrary, most of their songs are in Greek. In particular, the ceremonial and epic songs that still exist  (Samarina, Perivoli, Avdela, Smixi, Vovousa, Metsovo, etc.) at ‘Tranos (Big) Dance’ in summer, in the churchyard of the Patron Saint, all, without exception, are in Greek. One can go any time there and note it.
  On many tours , I've done for the last 30 years in  Pindus villages, in my persistent question,  why at  ‘Tranos (big)Dance ,outside the church on the holiday of the Saint of the village, all the songs are in Greek, the answer was the same: That’s the way  we found it,  that’s the  we always sing and that’s the way  our ancestors sang !
   It should be noted that whatever ceremonial (Tranos dance outside the church, dances songs and customs of the Ceremony of marriage, etc.) is durable and difficult to change, compared with dancing and songs of celebrations and entertainment (cosmic part).
   I remember one incident 20 years before: I was the leader (as dancer) of the Vlach Folk Club of Veria and we were invited to Samarina on the 15th of August to take part in the festivities. As we were dancing in the centre of the yard of the church, we were approached an angry old woman with a walking stick, telling us urgently to dance all around the yard and not in the center. We continued to dance the way we did, because we could not change the flow of our program. At that time, we could not understand the importance (for that woman) of the fact that we had to dance all around. We had offended the ‘sacred’ place and its functionality at that moment. We didn’t know that, because we haven’t experienced it in our villages in Vermion. Personally, I apologise to that nice lady, in retrospect.
  It is therefore found and noted that the songs of Vlach speaking Greeks are in both and Vlach and Greek  speech,  on the grounds that the Vlachs were always bilingual and the course of  their history  there were times when  the songs were probably more in Vlachic than Greek voice(Athena Katsanevakis Thessaloniki 1998). This does not mean that the Vlach-speaking songs should not be maintained. It is an urgent need, duty and obligation of our state to preserve this Aromanian-Vlach linguistic idiom, because it is an important cultural element for all Greek people. On the other hand, however, we must be careful to non-redemptive (slaved) tendencies from ‘curious’  political circles abroad that we see in recent years.
   Here are some views of prominent researchers, scholars and musicologists who give us information about Hellenism of the dances and the songs of the Vlach-speaking Greeks and the big difference with those of Romania.
   Mr. George Papadakis, Greek musicologist, when asked by a journalist in Greek national radio program (ERT), in 1987, about the music and the songs of Vlach-speaking Greeks, said that “in terms of scales, modes, spaces, musical instruments, and rhythm (beats) they are not just similar to Greek, but exactly the same Greek The only difference is language and of course how to adapt the syllables (Vlachic) to rhythms and melodies. Source: Οι Ελληνόβλαχοι (Αρμάνοι) Τόμος Α Γιώργης Έξαρχος σελ. = page 293 publications Καστανιώτης“
   Tache Papahagi (Romanian Ethnologist, linguist, folklorist) in the course of his research in his book «Poezia Lirica populara (lyrical folk poetry), Bucharest 1967, among other things, he admits that" when you hear the melodies of Aromanian-Vlach songs, you will conclude that Aromanian-Vlachic folk poetry has Greek origin. The same author, also in 1923, in his work "O Problema De Romanitate Sud-Illirica (The problem of Romanization of south Illyria)” writes: “It is known that the dance of Romanian peasants is one and unique throughout all Dakoroumania; a group of persons caught by the hand, forming a closed circle and dance to the rhythm of  2 beats”.
   G. Markou (Romanian ethnomusicologist) in his work ‘Folclor Muzical Aroman = Aromanian folk music, Bucharest 1977”, among other things, states that the Aromanian-Vlach dance to rhythms whose name has Greek origin (syrto, sygkasto, Karapataki, tsiamiko).
   Samuel Baud-Bovy (famous Swiss ethnomusicologist) in his "Essay on the Greek folk song», Athens 1984, and "Koutsovlachic songs of Thessaly”, Thessalonica 1990, concludes that there is “Polyphony’ in the songs of the Vlachs and  Slavic-speaking and Aromanian-speaking  people of Greece musicologically in their  absolute majority are descendants of indigenous  populations(as well as the findings of anthropologists).
    Dr Achilles Lazarou (Greek, Balkans and Vlachs expert) in his study "The Dance of Vlachophones», Thessalonica 1979, makes the following conclusions: The  dance of Vlach people  is gentle and slow, while the Romanian one  is fast, impetuous and abrupt. The Armanikos dance song performed by the dancers and the Romanian gymnastics to music. The fact also that the word saturation = dance Armani-Vlachs are more archaic than the word hora = Romanian dance, which is a purely modern Greek loan, certifies that unambiguously preceded the Latinization of Greek (later Armani-Vlach) against the Dacians ( later Romania).
   Dr Athena Katsanevaki (Greek musicologist) in her PhD entitled "Songs Vlach-speaking and Greek-speaking songs of Northern Pindos, historical-ethno musicological approach: the archaism and their relation to the historical background (Thessaloniki 1998) proves that Armanian-Vlachs are indigenous, ancient Greek population.
  Socrates Liakos’ (from Pisoderi) views, according to modern scholars (G. Exarchos etc.) are respectable and have documented evidence. He gives us the following seven Vlach dances in his book "Macedonia and Armani, Thessaloniki 1976. We write a summary of what he says:
1. ‘Armatolikos’. It is ‘pirichios’ (war) dance (named ‘Tzienngi’, according to Rigas Fereos- a Greek hero and scholar) and it is probably a continuity of an ancient Macedonian war dance, called ‘Telesias’. This dance had the music of the today ‘Beratico’ (or Arvanitovlachico).
2. Basha (ballos). Rigas Fereos mentions it with its current name ‘sygathistos’. This dance was  in pairs (male and female).
3. ‘Klefticos’. It's called "dance Foureskou = bandid - captain" and it is an exact copy of the ancient Macedonian dance ‘Karpeas’. This dance was in the rhythm of ‘Tsiamiko’.
4. ‘Sourouvarikos’ (Rogatsiarikos and Iskinarikos). It is about a dance during the well known customs of ‘Dodekaimero’ (twelve days in Christmas and  New Year holidays) , very similar to a Gothic one in Byzantine times and to an ancient Greek called ‘Kourites’.
5. ‘Syrtos’.  Women preferred it (they called it ‘sirtou’).Rigas Fereos tells us that it is about the ancient dance ‘Geranos’.
6. Tziatzios. It is the ‘Tranos’ dance of the village that we previously referred .The first dancers were the oldest ones. In the ancient latino-macedonian language of Via Egnatia these old people were called ‘dza’ and ‘dadza’ (first composed word for the Greek surname ‘Tziavelas, Tziamitras, Tziamihas, etc.), the ‘zii’= namely the divine, respectable of the Italian language, therefore the ‘dioi’ of the ancient-greek language.  Consequently, it is the dance of the old people, the senatorial, since the dancers move slowly, seriously and magnificently
7.  Hasapikos. This dance is Thracian and not ancient Macedonian.
After all this , Socratis Liakos, tells us, that he considers necessary to note that all the dances of Vlach-Aromanians are ancient Greek. 





John Tsiamitros, teacher of traditional dances,
    translation in English by John Tsiamitros, to.

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