FolkWorld #68 03/2019
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Music of Thrace

»Music of Bulgaria«


Thraki is a terrific collection of traditional Thracian songs and dances from the veteran Rodopi Ensemble.

Music of Thrace is the music of Thrace, a region in Southeastern Europe spread over southern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace), and European Turkey (Eastern Thrace).

The music of Thrace contains a written history that extends back to the antiquity, when Orpheus became a legendary musician and lived close to Olympus. Though the Thracian people were eventually assimilated by surrounding Balkan groups, elements of Thracian folk music continue.

Rodopi Ensemble: Thraki
The historian Strabo reported of the music-loving race of the Thracians. In ancient mythology, the country in southeast Europe comprised of south Bulgaria, northwest Turkey and northeast Greece was a place of worship of the wine- and fun-loving god Dionysus. Early composers such as Orpheus were of Thracian descent. Today the region presents itself as a cultural crossroads between East and West. “The idioms and nuances of Thracian music derive from the harmonious coexistence of people from different cultures,” says vocalist and lute-player Drosos Koutsokostas, “people who use music and singing to come together as one.” The Rodopi Ensemble started in the 1990s under the name of Lalitades before adopting their current name as a clearer representation of their geographical provenance from the Rodopi mountain range, i.e. musically performing and celebrating romantic love songs and lively dances inherited from their forefathers and played on violin, clarinet, qanun (a large zither), lute and a variety of percussion instruments. This is the classic line-up of the Café Amán orchestras which are presumed to be the precursors of the Rebetiko ensembles, though with a rather rural than urban backdrop. [wt]
Track Listing

1. Synkathistos (Synkathistos dance)
2. Tsakitzis (name of a folk hero)
3. Apo tin Prousa kinisa (Starting from Bursa)
4. Baidouska (Baidouska dance)
5. Kita me glikia mou agapi (Look at Me, Sweet Love)
6. Mia Paraskevi (On a Friday)
7. Tora pou stisan ton choro (Now that they Started Dancing)
8. Roman Havasi (The Air of Gypsies)
9. Margoudi (Mantilatos dance)
10. Balos and Sousta (Balos and Sousta dances)
11. Menexédes kai zouboulia (Violets and Hyacinths)

Rodopi Ensemble "Thraki - Thrace – The Paths of Dionysus", ARC Music, 2019

Rodopi Ensemble
Drosos Koutsokostas (vocals, lute)
Kyriakos Petras (violin)
Nikos Angousis (clarinet)
Alkis Zopoglou (kanun)
Yorgos Pagozidis (percussion)
Artist Video

Traditional Thracian dances are usually swift in tempo and are mostly circle dances in which the men dance at the front of the line. The gaida, a kind of bagpipe, is the most characteristic instrument, but clarinets and toumbelekis are also used. The Thracian gaida, also called the avlos, is different from the Macedonian or other Bulgarian bagpipes. It is more high in pitch then the Macedonian gaida but less so than the Bulgarian gaida (or Dura). The Thracian gaida is also still widely used throughout Thrace in northeastern Greece.

Types of dances

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Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

Date: February 2019.

Photo Credits: (1) Dionysus, (2)-(3) Rodopi Ensemble (unknown/website).

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