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Kostantis Kourmadias, Nikolas Angelopoulos & Laura Shannon | Syntazontai Avgerines

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World: Greek Folk World: Balkan Moods: Type: Acoustic
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Syntazontai Avgerines

by Kostantis Kourmadias, Nikolas Angelopoulos & Laura Shannon

Exquisite Greek folk song about the dance of the nymphs, played on traditional instruments in the old style. This song was chosen as one of three worldwide link-up dances for World Circle Dance Day 2018.
Genre: World: Greek Folk
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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Syntazontai Avgerines (feat. Dimitris Brendas)
Kostantis Kourmadias, Nikolas Angelopoulos & Laura Shannon
6:12 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Syntázontai Avgerinés – Syrtós Sta Tría

This traditional dance song from Thessaly, mainland Greece, is a very old traditional song, played in the old way, on the old instruments. On this track, Kostantis and Nikolas Angelopoulos play violin and laouto, with Laura Shannon playing defi, and our friend Dimitris Brendas on clarinet. Kostantis sings and Nikolas and Laura join him on the chorus.

Syrtós Sta Tría, often simply called Sta Tría, is one of the most widespread and ancient dances in Greece, in the family of three-measure dances which are found wherever circle dances still survive. It often serves a ritual purpose, as when danced to this song at Easter celebrations in villages near Karditsa, Thessaly.


Thessaly is a historic region with a variety of different ethnic groups including Sarakatsan, Karagounes, Vlachs, and locals with roots in the area since ancient times. The inhabitants of Kappá are said to have emigrated from what is now Italy in the first century A.D. Archaeological sites nearby attest to the presence of settlements and sacred sites since antiquity. Kappá is northwest of Karditsa, on the road between the villages of Fanari & Mouzaki, where the mountain meets the Thessalian plain, and is one of the 73 villages of the ‘Agrafa’ region, ‘unwritten’ since Roman and Byzantine times. Amáranto lies a little deeper into the Pindus mountains.


Thessaly is known for its agriculture, animal husbandry, beekeeping and other occupations close to the land, and also for its ‘nature-worshipping mysticism’ and its enduring mythology, particularly revering the Muses and the god Apollo. Many place-names and dance-songs refer to the Nymphs or Muses. The ‘Avgerinés’ of this song are Nymphs associated with the dawn star, o avgerinós (Venus). We know from Elizabeth Wayland Barber’s book The Dancing Goddesses that beliefs related to Nymphs and Muses (female spirits associated with water, fertility, music, and dance) are key elements in folk customs throughout Eastern Europe and the Slavic world. These supernatural beings are honoured and remembered in many regions even today. According to Marguerite Rigoglioso, nymphs and muses were not purely mythical, but represent the real-life priestesses who went underground when Christianity replaced the older Greek beliefs. My own research reveals that these sacred women are often referred to, obliquely or overtly, in Easter songs, dances and other ritual customs, hinting at a collective memory of spring mysteries of death and resurrection from pre-Christian times. I believe that the white kerchief, which is mentioned in the song and which women hold in their free hand when leading the dance, is also a secret sign of the priestess, Nymph or Muse.

Songs such as this one most likely travelled through Thessaly with the wandering minstrels of Byzantine times. Versions are found in villages including Amáranto, Plátano Trikálon and Yerakári Kalambákas. Interestingly, different versions often refer to women of specific ethnic and religious groups, naming for instance a Jewish, an Arvanitic, and a Bulgarian woman all dancing together. The name Sirmopoúla (literally ‘silver bird’ could refer to a woman from Syria, or could be a version of the woman’s name Asimi (‘Silver’), Sirmó in Epirus. Silver and gold were also attributes of the Nymphs and appear in many songs. One possible interpretation is that gold and silver represent the sun and moon, and by extension all the benevolent energies of the cosmos. These precious metals symbolise something even more precious: the love and togetherness which connect us with others, as well as with the positive energies of heaven and earth.

In their emphasis on community, connection, and mutual support, traditional music and dance embody ancient values which are rapidly disappearing in the modern era but are still alive in Greece. The sacred hospitality famous in antiquity can still be found here: everyone is welcome to the dance circle, which is both hearth and harbour, a shelter for travellers to gather together around the warmth and light and shared joy of the dance – in this case, the sacred monastery or temple built by the dancing nymphs as they join hands and dance in the circle… Come and dance with us!

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