Mar 14, 2012

Domna Samiou: The Keeper of Greek Folk Tradition Is Singing with the Angels

In Domna Samiou a modern Homer lived: taking a rich, oral tradition and compiling decade after decade, century after century of culture into an opus of incomparable magnitude.

Domna Samiou was born by Greek parents, refugees from Asia Minor. And it was her cultural background, steeped in traditional and at the same time cosmopolitan music from the region of Smyrni/Ismir, which prompted her to later immerse herself in music: byzantine music, the mother load of all folk music in the Eastern Mediterranean, through to Greek folk music and the music of magna Grecia. She travelled the lengths and breadths of Greece, from the high mountains of Rodopi and Pindos to the lowlands of Thessaly down to Crete and the islands, always carrying a small recorder and seeking the elders: the keepers of the great oral tradition ever since the Homeric times...

She died at 84, active and joyous to the end. May the earth that lies above you be light, oh Grecian one.

Folk song Tzivaeri, the mother's lament of migration

Cretan song "The Sound of the Chains" (As heavy as the irons hang, so will the black clothes)

Thracian folk song "If I were a bird to fly" (to go abroad and see my beloved again)

Note how similar the tenuta, the harmonies and the solemnity of the voice performance is with byzantine ecclesiastical hymns.

Song Black Sea, modern orchestration & additional lyrics mixed with a Thracian folk dance song) by D.Savvopoulos

"Φταίνε τα τραγούδια του, φταίει κι ο λυράρης
μα φταίει κι ο ίδιος του ο λαός γιατί 'ναι μαραζιάρης
Μαύρη θάλασσα κλειστή, μακρινές μου πεδιάδες
πίσω από τις συμπληγάδες"

The songs are to blame, the lyra player too.
But it's its people to blame most because they like lamenting to.
Black sea, closed, faraway lowlands
behind the Symbligades*.

*translation by me

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