Institute for Mediterranean Studies

Greek Traditional Music

Greek Traditional Music

Primary Investigator Giorgos Amargianakis †, Professor of Ethnomusicology, University of Athens

In the project description and while the research was still ongoing, we read the following:

The aim of this research program was to collect and examine existing information related to ancient Greek, religious Byzantine and contemporary folk music. The specific aims regarding the study of each musical genre were as follows:

A. Ancient Greek music

  1. Card-indexing and archiving of all information on music from ancient Greek writers, as well as the collection of all surviving musical recordings
  2. Photographing and archiving of musical performances in paintings, bas-relief and sculpture.

About 16,500 entries on music from ancient Greek and Latin writers have been indexed and archived in a special lexicon. Also, approximately 450 performances relating to ancient Greek music have been classified in a special archive.

B. Byzantine ecclesiastical music

  1. Photographing and cataloguing of surviving manuscripts and theoretical writings, as well as information on music from the Patristic literature.
  2. Study of the tradition of melodies since the appearance of Byzantine notation until today.

Until now 162 music codes have been microphotographed (Microfilm Collection). Furthermore, an effort to decipher the old Byzantine notation especially of the versicle music was in progress throughout the duration of the programme.

C. Greek folk music

  1. Taping and transcription on stave of folk songs from all parts of Greece.
  2. Collecting and archiving of recorded and hitherto published material.
  3. Publishing on discs of representative melodies according to area.

Transcriptions of traditional melodies from treatises of the 19th and 20th century were indexed and around 300 papers on Byzantine and folk music, published in rare journals and newspapers have been bound in 11 volumes. In addition, past music material (audio tapes with original recordings) was gathered and integrated into a single archive with the new recordings that took place within the programme.

Τoday, the IMS collection includes the following deliverables:

  1. Eleven (11) bound volumes with reprints of [rare] Greek and foreign published papers and articles of musicological content from 1880 to 1980. (pdf)
  2. Indexes from 44 published books, journals and yearbooks with recordings of traditional music both in Byzantine and European notation from. (pdf)
  3. Collection of photocopied manuscripts and published scores of Greek composers of the early 20th century (Mantzaros, Samaras etc.)
  4. Microfilms of Byzantine manuscripts (40) (from the National Library, the Gennadius Library, the Vatopedi Monastery etc.). (pdf)
  5. Indexing of Byzantine musical manuscripts into cards and folders
  6. Indexing information on ancient Greek music from Ancient Greek and Latin authors
    1. Special index of musical terms (tabs)
    2. Catalogue of ancient composers - compotitions - passages
  7. Collection (photocopies) of illustrative material related to ancient Greek music in publications of archaeological content
  8. Original recordings of traditional music on audio magnetic tapes (reels)
  9. Finally during the program, in 1988 the following three vinyl records were published by the Crete University Press (CUP) (the first two are available on vinyl today in the IMS library, while the third on cassette).

Greek Traditional Music 1, Tunes and songs of Crete from the J.A. Notopoulos Collection, Research-Recording: James A. Notopoulos, Selection of Items from the "Notopoulos Collection" at Harvard University: Mary Vouras, Musical Transcription and Comentary: Sotiris Tsianis, Recording 4-24 May 1953, Crete University Press (CUP) , Endowed and Sustained by by the Pan-Cretan Union of America, July 1988.


Greek Traditional Music 2, Tunes and Dances of Eastern Crete, Pantelis Baritantonakis: Violin, Antonios Baritantonakis: Guitar, Musical Supervision and Notes: Georgios Amaryanakis, Supervision of publication: Nikos Dionysopoulos, Recording 1983, 1987 Department of Ethnomusicology, University of Crete, Crete University Press (CUP), Endowed and Sustained by by the Pan-Cretan Union of America, July 1988.


Byzantine Church Music 1, Works by Cretan Composers Georgios Kris (d. 1815) Nikolaos Daskalakis (1897-1988), Musical Supervision and Notes: George Amargianakis, Recording and coordination of publication: Nikos Dionysopoulos, Recordings made in February 1988, in the Katholikon (main church) of Arkadi Monastery, Crete University Press (CUP), Endowed and Sustained by by the Pan-Cretan Union of America, July 1988.