Ta Xila

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A popular couples dance from Lesvos. The Xila is accompanied by the famous instrument the Santouri. The tune is a distinct tune on the island of Lesvos. The dance can be done as a syrto style dance in couple and in groups of four. The Xila is also popular at weddings and social gatherings on the island.

Ta Xyla (Pieces of Wood) or Kiourtiko tune, Article from the Crete University Press Publication of LESBOS AIOLIS - Greek Traditional Music 5. Under the Supervision of Nikos Dionysopoulos.

A four-beat instrumental tune that has become very popular in Lesvos in recent decades. The tune is found as far away as the Caucasus, and is also known as “Çeçen kizi” (“Chechen Maiden”) in a transcription by the important Turkish musician, Cemil Bey (1873-1916), who took of Asia Minor’s traditional music as raw material for his own compositions. According to the clarinetist Vasilês Soukas, another version of the tune is found in Preveza, under the title “Pleura.” The oral tradition gives an account of how the tune entered Lesvos’s traditional music, via Agiasos, in connection with the construction of the first steam-powered olive-press, which was built to meet the town’s needs in 1878. After the main building had been erected, thick wooden beams (the trunks of birch and pine trees) had to be laid across the walls to support the roof. They were hewn in the nearby woods and carried down on the shoulders of many men. In order to set a marching rhythm and put everyone in a good mood, the wind band chose a cheerful, rhythmic piece to play—which happened to be a Turkish patinada of which Agiasos’s Ottoman commander was particularly fond. (According to the Rodanos brothers, the tune was called the “kiourtiko”—from the Turkish word for Kurd—in Agiasos before the Second World War. It was played as a slow march and only as a walking tune, and was never danced. In the early years of the century, the tune was played once a year: on Turkish Police Day, when the Turks came out on the streets and treated everyone. According to P. Pantelellês (†1995), who played the trombone, it was called the “kiourtiko alem havasi” in Plômari, and was only played as a patinada. It was also known as the “tune of Osman Pasha.” And at Kapi, M. Kyriakoglou tells us, “if you had asked the musicians of earlier times to play it as a syrtos, you’d have got yourself into a fight. They called it the kiourtiko and the beat was a little different.”) Ever after, the tune was known in the area as “Pieces of Wood” or “Ta tambania” or “Ta tsamia” (taban and çam being the Turkish words for plank and pine tree, respectively). According to elderly townspeople, the tune fell into disuse in the early decades of the century, and was only revived as a result of a chance occurrence in Agiasos’s main square around 1935. In recent decades, it is played to a slower time signature, thus making it possible to dance as a syrtos. In that form, it has become a favorite tune of the whole island; it is part of the basic dance repertoire and is played as a representative melody from Mytilênê at events on the island and elsewhere. In this recording, however, we have chosen to present the piece in a form closer to the way it was originally played, as a patinada. Charilaos Rodanos, Kôstas Zafeiriou, and Stauros Rodanos; recorded in 1994. [1]


  1. ^ DIONYSOPOYLOS Nikos, LESBOS AIOLIS - Greek Traditional Music 5 Crete University Press Greece. p13


Ta Xila tune and dance