zeibekiko and rebetika (was: Re: meteoric bursts of light )

From: Amara Graps (amara@amara.com)
Date: Sat Nov 10 2001 - 15:38:47 MST

"scerir" <scerir@libero.it>, Fri, 9 Nov 2001
>"Life lives us, not the other way round"

This line triggered some Greek music and dancing thoughts and notes.

Sometimes when Greeks are full with a high sense of well-being that
they call "kefi", they can no longer contain the urge to express
their satisfaction with life and so they begin to dance. Dancing has
been integral part of their life from the present time, back to
ancient times. They dance it when they are filled with kefi, they
dance when they are filled with grief. Especially during their 400
years occupation, small expressions like this was/is a way to hold
on to sanity in a world with suffering. In the film: Zorba the
Greek, Zorba, when he is grieving over hs son's death, gets up and
starts dancing; he said that if he didn't dance at that moment he
felt that he would surely go mad.

There are hundreds of Greek dances, women can join in with the men's
dances, although they are usually performed by men. The dance that
Anthony Quinn performed in Zorba the Greek is called a "zeibekiko"
where the dancer's arms are outstretched, resembling the wings of a
bird (sometimes it is called the dance of the eagle).

Many of the Greek dances revolve around music from the bouzouki,
which is a mandolin-like instrument, and the atmosphere of the
waterfront tavernas would inspire bouzouki music and spontaneous

In addition to their dances, the Greeks created another form of
expression, the "rebetika", which was rooted in the late 1800s and
came to full form right after WWI. The rebetika is a blend of old
folk songs, Oriental rhythms, Byzantine hymns, often played on the
bouzouki, songs which emerged from the deepest levels of urban life:
waterfront dives, slums, opium and hashish dens. The musicians were
called Smyrna musicians, and by the mid-1920s this music spread to
Athens and more respectable cabarets. This music had the most
profound influence on Greek music last century. Originally the
lyrics reflected their origin in the dens that produced them: "I am
a rascal and a bum, and I enter the opium den still high from the
night before", then the songs evolved into reflections of their
dreams, hopes and apprehensions: "The moon is down, the darkness is
deep, only one man, cannot fall asleep" (this about loneliness). A
majority of Greeks at that time (and perhaps since) found their
'soul' in the music because of a close harmony with the music and
poetry and bouzouki instrument plus a blending of the musical
elements of their previous ~500 years history.

A good description of how the rebetika moved the Greek are these
words by a Greek composer named Hadjidkis. This is how he felt when
he heard a rebetika for the first time:

"Dazed by the grandeur and depth of the melodic phrases, a stranger
to them, young and without strength, I believed suddenly that the
song I was listening to was my own, utterly my own story."


Amara Graps, PhD email: amara@amara.com
Computational Physics vita: ftp://ftp.amara.com/pub/resume.txt
Multiplex Answers URL: http://www.amara.com/
"Take time to consider. The smallest point may be the most essential."
Sherlock Holmes (The Adventure of the Red Circle)

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