Polyphonic song of Epirus
|Music of Greece|
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||"Hymn to Liberty"|
|Related areas||Cyprus, Pontus, Constantinople (Hasapiko)|
The Polyphonic song of Epirus is a form of traditional folk polyphony practiced among Albanians, Aromanians, Greeks and Macedonian Slavs in southern Albania and northwestern Greece. The polyphonic song of Epirus is not to be confused with other varieties of polyphonic singing, such as the yodeling songs of the region of Muotatal, or the Cantu a tenore of Sardinia.
Polyphonic Music in Greece and Albania 
In Greece 
Among Greeks, polyphonic song is found in the northwestern Greek region of Ioannina (villages of Ano Pogoni) Parakalamos and some villages north of Konitsa), in very few villages in northeastern Thesprotia (Tsamantas, Lias, Vavouri, Povla) and mainly among the Greek minorities in southern Albania (Northern Epirus), for instance in the Greek-speaking villages such as Delvinë, Dropull, Pogon (Kato Pogoni), Poliçan, Himara and the cities of Sarandë and Gjirokastër. Among Greeks a second kind of polyphonic singing differing in maximum roughness is also performed in Karpathos and Pontos.
In Albania 
Among Albanians, all four regions of Myzeqe, Toskeri, Chameria, and Labëria have the polyphonic song as part of their culture. Among Albanians a related form of polyphonic singing is also found in northern Albania in the area of Peshkopi, the Albanian communities of Kaçanik in Kosovo, the areas of Polog, Tetovo, Kicevo and Gostivar in Macedonia and the region of Malësia in northern Albania and southern Montenegro.
The region of Labëria is a particular region known for multipart singing and home to many different genres like that of pleqërishte. Songs can be of two, three, or four parts. Two part songs are sung only from women. Three part songs are more diffused and can be sang by men and women. Four part songs are a Labëria specialty. Research has shown that four part songs have come after three part ones and that are the most complex form of polyphonical singing.
The Gjirokastër National Folklore Festival, Albania, (Albanian: Festivali Folklorik Kombëtar), has been held every five years in the month of October, starting from 1968 and it has typically included many polyphonic songs.
Polyphonic groups of Epirus consist of four members at least. Each group has two soloists and a drone group, which provides and maintains the vocal rhythm of the song.
The first soloist (or the taker) (Greek: "πάρτης" (partis) or "σηκωτής" (sikotis), Albanian: Bëj zë or Mbaj kaba or marrësi, Aromanian: Atselu tsi u lia) is the voice that sings the main melody. The first soloist performs the beginning of the song (Greek: παίρνοντας (pernontas, taking) or σηκώνοντας (sikonontas, lifting), Albanian: e merr dhe e ngre), and literally acts as the narrator and leader of the group, singing the main part of the song. The second soloist (or the turner) (Greek: "γυριστής" (yiristis)) answers (or "turns") the voice (Greek: "γυρίζει" (yirizei, turns) or "τσακίζει" (tsakizei, crimps) Albanian: kthej zë or kthyesi, Mbahes or Kthehës or Pritës Aromanian: Atselu tsi u tali).
Sometimes, instead of the "turner", or according to some musicologists parallel with it, we find the role of the spinner (Greek: κλώστης (klostis, spinner), Albanian: dredhes). The "spinner" spins the song between the tonic and subtonic of the melody, a technique that reminds the movement of the hand which holds the spindle and spins the thread. This is a role that is often, but not always, found is the one of "rihtis", who drops (Greek: ρίχνει) the song in the end of the introduction of "partis", by singing an exclamation (e.g. Greek: αχ ωχ ωχ (ah oh oh) or, "άντε βρε" (ante vre)), which is a fourth lower than the tonic of the melody, resting "partis" and uniting its introduction with the entrance of the drone group.
The drone group is composed by the rest of the members of the polyphonic group and is also called iso keepers group (Greek: ισοκρατές, (isokrates, iso keepers) Albanian: Venkorë or Iso-mbajtës, and Aromanian: Isu), from the Greek Isocrates "ισοκράτης" and that from the Medieval Greek "ισοκρατών" (isokraton), "one who holds the ison", the note that holds on the whole length of a song, from Ancient Greek "ἴσος" (isos) generally meaning "equal" but here "equal in flight of song" + "κρατέω" (krateo) "to rule, to hold". The words ison and isos literally mean the continuous base note and isocrates creates and holds the modal base of the song. The isokrates role is particularly important; the louder the keeping of the vocal drone, (Greek: ισοκράτημα" isokratima), the more "βρονταριά" (vrontaria) (i.e. better) the song goes, because the rhythm and the vocal base of the song are maintained. The term derives from the Byzantine Greek musical tradition, where the "ίσον" also features.
The perfection of the rendition of the polyphonic song presupposes the existence and the unity of the several voices–roles of the polyphonic group. As a result, polyphonic song presupposes the collectiveness of expression and the firm distinction between the roles it reflects, and the unwritten hierarchy in the composition of the group and the distribution of the roles.
See also 
- Music of Greece
- Music of Albania
- Music of Epirus (Greece)
- Byzantine music
- Song of Çelo Mezani
- Song of Marko Boçari
- Bart Plantenga. Yodel-ay-ee-oooo. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 978-0-415-93990-4, p. 87 Albania: "Singers in Pogoni region perform a style of polyphony that is also practised by locals in Vlach and Slav communities [in Albania].
- Engendering Song: Singing and Subjectivity at Prespa by Jane C. Sugarman,1997,ISBN 0-226-77972-6,page 356,"Neither of the polyphonic textures characteristic of south Albanian singing is unique to Albanians.The style is shared with Greeks in the Northwestern district of Epirus (see Fakiou and Romanos 1984) while the Tosk style is common among Aromanian communities from the Kolonje region of Albania the so called Faserotii (see Lortat-Jacob and Bouet 1983) and among Slavs of the Kastoria region of Northern Greece (see N.Kaufamann 1959 ). Macedonians in the lower villages of the Prespa district also formerly sang this style "
- Engendering Song: Singing and Subjectivity at Prespa by Jane C. Sugarman,1997,ISBN 0-226-77972-6,page 356,A striking counterpart from outside the Balkans is the polyphonic Yodeling of juuzli from the Muotatal region of Switzerland
- Ricky Holden, Mary Vouras: Greek Folk Dances, 1965, page 10
- Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham: World Music: The Rough Guide, 1999, ISBN 1-85828-635-2, page 149
- Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham: World Music: The Rough Guide, 1999, ISBN 1-85828-635-2, page 5, 127
- Ardian Ahmedaja, Gerlinde Haid. European voices: Multipart singing in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Böhlau Verlag Wien, 2008 ISBN 978-3-205-78090-8, p. 267.
- Ardian Ahmedaja, Gerlinde Haid. European voices: Multipart singing in the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Böhlau Verlag Wien, 2008 ISBN 978-3-205-78090-8, p. 283.
- European voices: Multipart singing in the Balkans and the ..., Volume 1 By Ardian Ahmedaja, Gerlinde Haid page 210, 243-44 
- European voices: Multipart singing in the Balkans and the ..., Volume 1 By Ardian Ahmedaja, Gerlinde Haid pages 214-215 
- European voices: Multipart singing in the Balkans and the ..., Volume 1 By Ardian Ahmedaja, Gerlinde Haid page 241 
- Notes from the Balkans: Locating Marginality and Ambiguity on the Greek-Albanian Border,2005,ISBN 0-691-12199-0,page Back matter ,"... the appropriate manner(Adkins 2002; Adkins and Lury 1999; Skeggs 1997). 16. Theodosiou (2003); Nitsiakos and Mantzos (2003) note that polyphonic singing has become one of those traditions that is argued about by nationalist folklorists on both sides of the border, .."
- European voices: Multipart singing in the Balkans and the ..., Volume 1 By Ardian Ahmedaja, Gerlinde Haid page 215 
- European voices: Multipart singing in the Balkans and the ..., Volume 1 By Ardian Ahmedaja, Gerlinde Haid page 211 
- Takis Kalogeropoulos, Lexicon of the Greek Music, 2001, ISBN 960-7555-39-2
- ἴσος, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- κρατέω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
- Psaltic Chant, Monastère de la Théotokos et de Saint martin
- Sugarman, Dave (1997). Engendering song: singing and subjectivity at Prespa Albanian weddings. Chicago studies in ethnomusicology. University of Chicago Press. p. 221. ISBN 0-226-77973-4.
- Tziovas, Demetres. Greece and the Balkans: identities, perceptions and cultural encounters since the Enlightenment. Ashgate Publishing. p. 198. ISBN 0-7546-0998-7.
Further reading 
- World Music: The Rough Guide by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham - 1999 - ISBN 1-85828-635-2
- Greek Folk Dances by Rickey Holden, Mary Vouras – 1965
- Engendering Song: Singing and Subjectivity at Prespa by Jane C. Sugarman,1997,ISBN 0-226-77972-6
Songs in Greek 
- Greek Polyphonic Song
- Songs from Politsani
- Polyphonic Song from Delvino
- Polyphonic Festival, MySpace
- Polyphonic Singing from Epirus, Greece
- Polyphonic Song from Deropolis
- Greek Polyphonic Song
Songs in Albanian 
- Songs from Labëria
- Song from Labëria Albanian: Kenge nga Laberia
- I'll Start by Thinking Albanian: Do filloj duke menduar
- Ismail Qemali Song
- Albania Rock and Stone, You'd Kill Yourself for Your Flag Albanian: Shqiperi o shkemb e gure, vritesh pritesh per flamure
- Wake up Himara, Wake up Vlora Albanian: Dil Himare e dil moj Vlore
- Manushe Your Hair Albanian: Manushe leshura tende
- Sons of Shepards Albanian: Bijë Çobanesh
- Kurvelesh, What did You Do with Your Sons? Albanian: Kurvelesh, ç'i bëre djemtë?
- Shake Your Handkerchief Albanian: Tunde moj shamine
- Get Out, May Your Root Get Out Albanian: Dile moj te dalte rrenja
- Songs from Skrapar