Chios Folk Music
Remarkably rich in history, culture and traditions, Chios also boasts an extremely diverse musical tradition, with special characteristics, varying from one part of the island to the other. As it happens in many other fields, like the natural landscape and architecture, the northern villages of Chios are quite different from the south, even in terms of folk music. With multiple musical influences, tracing back to the Ionian musical rhythms of antiquity and the musical legacy of the Byzantine Empire, but also reflecting the influence of the Latin conquerors and the folk musical tradition of Asia Minor and the Aegean islands, the folk music of Chios is worth discovering for the visitor.
The travelers who visited Chios as part of their Grand Tour, during the Genoan Occupation and the Ottoman Period were fascinated by the beauty of Chian women and the variety of their cloths. According to their encounters, the variety of cloth styles was similar to the variety of folk music and songs, with different features in every village.
There are songs that narrate stories with pirates and dramatic romances, like the “tripatos” from Nenita. Songs accompanying the mastiha producers during the laborious task of mastiha collection like the “Skoiniatikos”. They are danced accordingly, during the traditional celebrations and folk fests, reflecting the grace, the beauty, the chivalry and the love for life of the Chiots.
There are folk dances that are danced in a circle, like the “thetos”, but in the traditional fests, the dominating dance is “Syrtos” in couples.
One of the most characteristic Chian dances is the “Pyrgousikos”, a fast, cheerful and lively dance in a trio. According to the local tradition, two men and a woman in the middle dance vividly in a V formation.
As few people may know, the famous French composer Maurice Ravel, mostly known for his sensational “Boléro”, composed in 1904 the “Five Greek Songs”, female vocals and piano, inspired by five folk songs of Chios, which the French linguist Humbert Pernot had transcribed in notes during his visits to the island.
Chios Music School helps the local youth in exploring and preserving the island’s rich folk music repertoire, the traditional musical instruments and dances. Chios Youth’s Music Lab is a group of young people dedicated to preserving and promoting local traditional music.