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Vocal Music in Crete
Smithsonian Folkways

cd cover Recorded in 1977-1982 by Berlin's International Institute for Traditional Music, this reissue presents the rarely recorded repertoire of folk singing styles from Western Crete. Most expressive of local identity is rizitika, typically sung at important social events such as weddings, christenings, and saints’ feasts, as well as less formal gatherings. Singers may alternate between rizitika and the mandinakhes lyrical singing style. The latter, reflecting the influence of four centuries’ of Venetian rule over Crete, may be sung either a cappella or backed by some combination of the lyra (a small pear-shaped three-string fiddle indigenous to Greece), violin, and laouto (fretted lute). Tabakhaniotika, an urban style rooted in café culture, shares an affinity with the rembetika genre, a wry and passionate celebration of the dissolute life. Both reflect the mixing of Greek and Turkish elements springing from the often antagonistic relationship between the two societies. Tabakhaniotika is music for listening and social commentary, lamenting the vagaries of love and human tragedy, or satirizing the Turks. This recording and its extensive notes document the sustained historical encounter of diverse and often contentious cultures in a vital Mediterranean crossroads. — Michael Stone

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