Talk:Polyphonic song of Epirus

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Its gonna look like this.

The polyphonic song of Epirus constitutes one of the most interesting musical forms, not only for the east Mediterranean and the Balkans, but also for the worldwide repertoire of the folk polyphony. The music is found among Greeks,Albanians, Aromanians, & Slavs [1].This polyphonic singing is also attested in Switzerland in yodeling songs of the region of Muotatal [2]


The origin of this polyphonic form, in spite of the fact that the research hasn’t reached certain conclusions yet, is considered to be very old (possibly, even pre-Hellenic). The melodies of polyphonic songs, including some more songs of Epirus and Thessaly, are the only ones in Greece that have preserved the pentatonic scale without semitones (a scale consisted of five tones without semitones). According to some musicologists, this scale is identified with the Doric way of the ancient Greek Dorians, the par excellence Hellenic harmony. Except from its scale, what pleads for the very old origin of the kind is its vocal, collective, rhetorical and modal character. The tradition of Polyphonic singing has being contested and used by both sides of the Greek and Albanian border in a nationalistic manner[3].

Polyphonic Music in Greece[edit]

These days, polyphonic song is found in northwestern Greek[4] region of Ioannina[5] (villages of Pogoni, Parakalamos and some villages north of Konitsa), in very few villages in northeastern Thesprotia (Tsamantas, Lias, Vavouri, Povla) and, mainly, in Northern Epirus[6], in the villages of the Greek minority[7] in south Albania (Dropolis, Upper Pogoni, Vuthroto, Himara).Also found in to varying degree in the rest of Greece & the islands[8].


Polyphonic groups of Epirus consist of four members at least. There are four distinct roles that compound the group.


"Πάρτης" (partis) or "σηκωτής" (sikotis) is the voice that sings the main melody, beginning, "παίρνοντας" (pernontas, taking) or "σηκώνοντας" (sikonontas, lifting) the song. The second voice answers, "γυρίζει" (yirizei, turns) or "τσακίζει" (tsakizei, crimps) the song; that’s why it is called the "γυριστής" ("yiristis", the turner). Sometimes, instead of "yiristis", or according to some musicologists parallel with it, we find the role of "κλώστης" (klostis, spinner), which makes peculiar yodels, "κλώθοντας" (klothontas, spinning) 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. A role that is often, but not always, found is the one of "rihtis", who "ρίχνει" (drops) the song in the end of the introduction of "partis", singing an exclamation (e.g. "αχ ωχ ωχ" (ah oh oh), "άντε βρε" (ante vre) a fourth lower than the tonic of the melody, resting "partis" and uniting its introduction with the entrance of "ισοκρατές" (isokrates). The rest members of the polyphonic group, "isokrates", keep the "ίσο" (iso, vocal drone), namely the sound of the tonic of the melody, creating the modal base of the song. The isokrates' role is particularly important; the louder the «ισοκράτημα» (isokratima, keeping of the vocal drone) is, the more "βρονταριά" (vrontaria) the song goes (i.e. the better). 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.

This part needs to be translated in English in the article. --Sulmues talk 21:12, 9 April 2010 (UTC)


  1. ^ Engendering Song: Singing and Subjectivity at Prespa by Jane C. Sugarman,1997,ISBN 0226779726,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 "
  2. ^ Engendering Song: Singing and Subjectivity at Prespa by Jane C. Sugarman,1997,ISBN 0226779726,page 356,A striking counterpart from outside the Balkans is the polyphonic Yodeling of juuzli from the Muotatal region of Switzerland
  3. ^ Notes from the Balkans: Locating Marginality and Ambiguity on the Greek-Albanian Border,2005,ISBN-10: 0691121990,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, .."
  4. ^ Greek Folk Dances by Rickey Holden, Mary Vouras - 1965 - ,page 10,"The tonal variations produced on this instrument by Greek musicians, particularly in the music of Epirus"
  5. ^ World Music: The Rough Guide by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham - 1999 - ISBN 1858286352,page 149,"The city of Ioannina in Epirus has long been an important centre of this style"
  6. ^ World Music: The Rough Guide by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham - 1999 - ISBN 1858286352,page 5,"south of Gjirokastër, has a sizeable ethnic Greek population, and their music is related to the music of Epirus,"
  7. ^ World Music: The Rough Guide by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham - 1999 - ISBN 1858286352,page 127 ,"The folk music ot Epirus (//игл.) exhibits strong connections with that of northern Epirus (now in Albania)"
  8. ^ World Music: The Rough Guide by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham - 1999 - ISBN 1858286352,page 127,"The repertoire tends to fall into three categories which are also found further south mirologya or laments (the instrumental counterpart is called skaros); drinking songs or tis tavlas ;and various dancable melodies as noted above common to the entire mainland and the islands also"

See also[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • World Music: The Rough Guide by Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham - 1999 - ISBN 1858286352
  • Greek Folk Dances by Rickey Holden, Mary Vouras – 1965
  • Engendering Song: Singing and Subjectivity at Prespa by Jane C. Sugarman,1997,ISBN 0226779726

External links[edit]

[[Category:Albanian music]] [[Category:Epirus]] [[Category:Greek music]]

Megistias (talk) 20:44, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

I am changing it,references and all?Megistias (talk) 21:24, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

The article is focusing in greek-speaking polyphonic songs. I believe it needs to be renamed 'Greek polyphonic songs of Epirus'.Alexikoua (talk) 22:59, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

....but what you would say to unesco and the others that say what you call greek is albanian too...!

we can create seperate articles about albanian, vlach polypohny etc. The sections, especially 'voices', of the article are focused in Greek-speaking polyphony.Alexikoua (talk) 05:26, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

you can include vleh and/or greek polyphony as extension of original albania polyphony somewhere else...

Rv of user:Athenean[edit]

This edit took out all the Albanian songs and left the Greek ones. Is there a particular reason? --Sulmues Let's talk 04:33, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Any particular reason you linkspammed the page with dozens of exclusively Albanian songs? Athenean (talk) 04:36, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
The songs from Politsani, Delvino and Dropolis are all from Albania, I don't see what the problem is. Athenean (talk) 04:38, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Well, we had roughly 50 Greek songs (only this link has 25 songs in Greek) (which still are there after you reverted me), so I added some Albanian songs to cover the topic. I also translated the names from Albanian to English. Could you please tell me why you took the Albanian songs out and left only the songs in Greek? --Sulmues Let's talk 04:43, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
We don't have 50 Greek songs, and you didn't add "some" Albanian songs, you added a whole bunch. This is POV-pushing. Don't play dumb, we both know what you are trying to achieve here. Athenean (talk) 04:54, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
The link to myspace has several songs in Albanian, and Vasil Tole is also in Albanian. I suppose 2-3 more would be ok, but nothing crazy, alright? Athenean (talk) 04:56, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
There is nothing crazy in improving an article by providing links to songs. Those are some very good examples of very well known polyphonic songs that you deleted. I don't know Greek and I'm not playing dumb. I bring to the table what I know, while you delete my work. I invite you to put here all the Greek songs that you could find. I am bringing first-hand polyphonic songs and very well known ones. I wish I could provide "Mora rrugen per Janine" in a polyphonic version, but the ones that I brought are very good songs. I'm really sorry that it has to be this way for every single contribution I make. I really don't know where you are going with this attitude. And I don't see now one single song in Albanian, they are ALL in Greek. --Sulmues Let's talk 05:02, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Adding a zillion links to songs only in Albanian is POV-pushing, and you know it. The best thing for you to do is to find maybe 2-3 websites that have polyphonic songs in Albanian, as is done for the Greek songs, and leave it at that. But to add 50 songs in Albanian is nothing short of obnoxious. Athenean (talk) 05:10, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
I don't see why bombarding an article with external links could be constructive. If you can provide 2 websites dedicated on Albanian polyphony it would be ok. I see that there is already one Albanian site (V. Tole).Alexikoua (talk) 05:15, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

I added 27 songs in Albanian which you deleted, while there are currently many more in Greek. If you find my contributions "obnoxious" thank you I'll stop my contributions to this page. I invite you to find all the Greek songs and put them on Wikipedia, but revert yourself and put the Albanian songs back please. And... there is not a single song on Vasil Tole's website. --Sulmues Let's talk 05:23, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Adding 27 links is obnoxious, and very transparent. Find a website with songs in Albanian and add it. I could find hundreds of songs in Greek on youtube if I searched, but Wikipedia articles are not supposed to be collections of youtube links. You know what you need to do to reach a compromise, so either do it or stop complaining. Athenean (talk) 05:30, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
The compromise you are offering is to have 40 songs in Greek and 2 songs in Albanian. If I offered to have 40 songs in Albanian and 2 in Greek, then we'd reach a compromise of 21 songs in each language. That's what I call a compromise. Either that or this article has to be split into Albanian polyphonic songs and Greek ones. --Sulmues Let's talk 05:34, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

I suggested you add 2 Albanian websites but you still insist on bombading with dozens of external links the article. Why this extreme disruptive behavior? Also proposing to add 27+27 external links together in one article is one of the weirdest suggestions I've ever heard in wikipedia.Alexikoua (talk) 05:34, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

I invite you to bring all the songs in Greek that you can find. Wikipedia will be richer. Why would you be affraid of bringing all the Greek songs from youtube? I brought 27 songs in Albanian, just bring the Greek ones. Bring as many as you can. No one will revert you. I'm not deleting anything, you are deleting mine and offering "compromises" just to have the Albanian songs out of the article. I find disruptive that you delete my external links, and I did not propose a 27+27. I just said that if you offer "compromises", that's what you are going to end up doing: bargaining numbers. I invite you to revert yourself because I didn't hear one single reason why those Albanian songs shouldn't be in wikipedia as links of the polyphonic songs. Otherwise I'll have to revert you. --Sulmues Let's talk 05:37, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
And I invite you Sulmues to expand the article's main text instead of playing and adding dozens of external links. I inform you also that the article says nothing about how the singing is performed in Albanian,, also it would be interesting to add something about the folk festival of Gjirokastra. Making a point just by bombarding the article with external links is really childish.Alexikoua (talk) 05:59, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
You fail to see that you added 27 external links in one article, and this is childish and I suggested you some alternatives to improving the article's quality this time.Alexikoua (talk) 06:15, 27 April 2010 (UTC)
Ok, now I have 10 songs from Laberia and I improved the article. Still plenty of Greek songs there and even less Albanians. --Sulmues Let's talk 06:48, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Someone has to merge the last two paragraphs (Structure and Voice)[edit]

--Sulmues Let's talk 08:04, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

done.--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 09:28, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Ref name[edit]

Please use the ref name tag, instead of adding the same reference multiple times.--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 09:31, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

What do you do when you have different page numbers though? --Sulmues Let's talk 15:04, 27 April 2010 (UTC)

Mass deletion[edit]

This edit [1] is problematic. It removed a large amount of information under a completely misleading summary. There is no reference touchup, and the paragraph merging is in fact a mass deletion of useful material. I see no valid reason why this material was removed. Athenean (talk) 23:33, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

I added previous deleted sourced info but kept merged paragraphs. The Cat and the Owl (talk) 06:42, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
@User:TinaTrendelina: Please stop deleting sourced material. If you have arguments please consider to talk here instead. The Cat and the Owl (talk) 09:50, 29 April 2010 (UTC)


There are three references (from Gilbert Rouget, Journal of Hellenic studies, and Martha Maas) that attempt to support a Doric origin of the polyphonic song because it uses the pentatonic scale. I cannot see anything that actually supports such claims in any of the references. I don't want to tag as doubious because I am faithful that someone will improve the references or put a more decent passage from them to support that the music is really pentatonic. My impression is that the polyphonic song of Epirus uses semitones all the way. --Sulmues Let's talk 12:24, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Wrong, the music of Epirus, especially in Greece, contains folk songs that are mostly pentatonic and polyphonic. The Cat and the Owl (talk) 13:05, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
The origins are possibly of Byzantine church music. As Sulmues pointed out the sources given don't confirm the statements.--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 13:17, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
The sources are stating exactly that the pentatonic scale is identified with a form of the Dorian Greek music, so yes, they do confirm the statement on the sentence. The Cat and the Owl (talk) 13:35, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
The pentatonic scale is found in most of world including Celtic and African music too. You can't use that to confirm anything.--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 13:46, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
What I fail to see in the references is that the pentatonic scale is what defines the Polyphonic song of Epirus. I am not saying that it's not part of the Dorian Greek music. From the references provided I still fail to see that the pentatonic scale connects Dorian music and polyphonic music as of today. Cat and Owl, show me in the references where is it written that the polyphonic song uses pentatonic scale please. I will also say that if you do find those references for the Greek music, then we really should split the article between the Albanian and the Greek polyphonic song as they are clearly different: The Albanian song uses semitones, and a classical example is "Mora rrugen per Janine". The song has been sang by Mentor Xhemali and a "kthyes" plus the iso people and is extremely rich in semitones. --Sulmues Let's talk 13:53, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
You sure? Recordings of "Mora rrugen per Janine" that I find online certainly sound pentatonic to me (though there may be occasional shifts from one pentatonic scale model to the next, if I heard that correctly, and possibly occasional chromatic inflections of individual tones in the improvised performance; the basic melodies are most decidedly pentatonic though. Mind you, my ear isn't perfect.) Fut.Perf. 15:45, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
I can play 4-5 cord instruments and have been a musician in my past lives. A pentatonic music is extremely poor, because it uses the 5 main tones in an octave, rather than 7. "Mora rrugen per Janine" is extremely rich in tones and semitones. An example, "FA" and "SI" are not included in the main pentatonic scale, but they are present in "Mora rrugen per Janine" and in many other polyphonic songs. I am glad that you noticed chromatic inflection. As a rule of thumb, pentatonic scaled music is NOT characterized by chromatic inflections. Again, I don't see one single reference to support that the polyphonic songs of Epirus (at least the Albanian ones) are pentatonic scale music. --Sulmues Let's talk 16:32, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Albanian songs from the Prespa area are apparently described as "based on" pentatonic scales here (unfortunately, the most relevant chapter isn't online). There are several transcribed music examples. From what I can see, semitone intervals are occasionally touched on in diminutive embellishments, but the principal melodies are, indeed, solidly pentatonic in nature. Fut.Perf. 17:22, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Although as a musician I disagree, as a Wikipedian, I feel obligated to rest my case. --Sulmues Let's talk 18:50, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Those pieces Sugarman gives transcriptions of (pp.44, 46, 48 in the Engendering Music book [2] are sure fascinating. The thing about chromaticism and pentatonic-ness appears to be that you only ever get semitone steps as a cambiata-like embellishment (i.e., if your melody is resting on a, you can briefly touch b-flat and then return to the a, but I see no instance in those pieces where a melody proceeds, say, from a through b-flat to c or the like.) Anyway, great stuff. Fut.Perf. 21:21, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

[undent] The sourcing that was recently added is poor indeed. Fn.4, to "Gilbert Rouget, Music and Trance: A Theory of the Relations Between Music and Possession", is a highly speculative work on a rather esoteric interpretation of various musical traditions world-wide; it proposes an interpretation of ancient Greek modes, but mentions modern folk music only with a single remark in passing, making no mention at all of Epirus specifically. The work Rouget quotes as an authority on this, by S. Baud-Bovy, would appear to be more pertinent though. Fn.5 lacks any indication of what article and what author this is from, and quotes a fragmentary sentence whose most important part, the reference of the first word "that", remains opaque. There is no indication whether that sentence is even talking about ancient or modern music. Fn.6 is a work which would likely be relevant to the study of ancient music, but we aren't told what (if anything) it says about modern Epirotic music. Given this sketchy information, I have serious doubts these references support what they are claimed to support. What we need are specialist works of modern ethnomusicology, and make sure you consult several different ones and report all their views, because these things are likely contentious. Even if we do find good sources, it makes no sense to start citing things saying that "some musicologists support X", if we aren't yet in a position to assess what other views exist (and I bet a package of cookies there is disagreement among the experts on such things). Fut.Perf. 14:58, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Update: when assessing whatever sources might still come up, we'll definitely have to be very cautious: according to this [3], the notion of an ancient Greek historical connection (through the "pentatonic"="Dorian" equation) may play a heavily polticised role in some research traditions of patriotic local ethnomusicology. No source, even ostensibly respectable musicological treatments, can be taken at face value uncritically in such a context. Fut.Perf. 16:15, 29 April 2010 (UTC)
Some more pointers here: [4]. Fut.Perf. 16:19, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

I've removed the whole section. It wasn't just this one sentence that was unsourced, but the whole passage (which, by the way, has been present in the article ever since its first edit, when the whole thing was created as an unsourced essay in 2007). Sure, something can be written about those various hypotheses and the national agendas behind them, but that needs to be done from a clearly external, neutral perspective. Fut.Perf. 08:17, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

New info[edit]

I added the following sentence(which was disruptively removed)

I also provided the page numbers in Ardian Ahmedaja's book which are pages 243-44. --— ZjarriRrethues — talk 21:39, 4 May 2010 (UTC)

Newsflash: Kosovo and the rest are not in Epirus. The article name is Polyphonic song of Epirus, not Albanian polyphonic singing. As for being disruptive, what is ramming through such changes to a flashpoint article without so much as an edit summary if not disruptive? Athenean (talk) 21:43, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
In previous versions of the article in the Greece section it was added that polyphonic singing was found also in the rest of Greece but because there were no sources about that FutureP removed it [5]. This is a similar situation with the difference of this being a sourced fact and not a wp:peacock claim.--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 21:48, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
The article talks about a specific region. Moreover, polyphony is also known in specific places in Greece too apart from Epirus (not to mention antiquity). This article deals with Epirus, not Albanian or Greek performance in general. Alexikoua (talk) 21:55, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
The scope of this article should be determined in terms of the musicology, not of the national politics: i.e. not by what geographic label was originally put on it, but by the range of this type of singing, supposing that it is a relatively uniform, distinct regional tradition. If this same kind of singing is found further afield among Albanian populations, then it should be naturally part of the same article. We might run into a bit of a problem if those aspects turn out to be so prominent their coverage would require some renaming of the article, because there might not be such an easy and short geographical label for those areas together, but then, oh well, life sucks. In any case, as long as we still agree that the main focus of this musical tradition is indeed Epirus / Southern Albania, and those outliers can be treated in just a brief notice, I don't really see a problem. Fut.Perf. 22:02, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Then FutureP can I add again the brief sentence I had written?--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 22:04, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Polyphonic singing is found throughout the Balkans, e.g. Karpathos. We need to draw the line somewhere, or else rename the article to Polyphonic singing in the Balkans. Athenean (talk) 22:05, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
Checking the page in the European Voices book (unfortunately I can only see p.243, not the next), it does seem to be emphasizing a difference between the Geg and Tosk traditions, implying that those Geg songs are significantly different in musical substance. Taking that into account, I would suggest, if we are to mention it, it should be clearly under such a perspective: a side-note pointing out that there are these other things that are perhaps somehow related or comparable, but not centrally belonging to the same cultural prototype. Fut.Perf. 22:14, 4 May 2010 (UTC)
To see page 244 change from .de to .com or .es(or the opposite). Okay then FutureP how about:

--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 22:21, 4 May 2010 (UTC)


About this [6] edit, I think the term "maximum roughness" needs a bit more background, because it's a very specific and not commonly known technical concept that can only be understood in the context of that author's analysis of "roughness diaphony" ("Schwebungsdiaphonie"). It would of course be great if we could integrate an account of this feature, but I think that would first need some research and a competent summary of what the whole feature is about, before we can use it in a description of how those other singing styles are different. Fut.Perf. 14:30, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

We could add more info about the feature, although we have to popularize it as much as possible otherwise the majority of the readers won't understand this concept.--— ZjarriRrethues — talk 15:13, 5 May 2010 (UTC)
Yep, and to do that, we'll have to understand it ourselves first. Don't know about you, but I guess it would take me some time and energy to work through that chapter. Fut.Perf. 16:58, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

Stupidus Maximus[edit]

It seems that this article has became the new victim of the specific user, who's just wandering around disrupting any proccess. While his spi case is still open [[7]] he didn't lose the opportunity to make paragraph moves in childish style & adding an overextented list in -external links- like in Chameria. Another clearly extreme pov style edit, typical of an spa user. History proves that spa accounts like him, soon will strike again here.Alexikoua (talk)

What are you talking about? Give evidence of adding an overxtended list. Stupidus Maximus (talk) 19:11, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
You didn't explained why you splitted the first section seperating Albanian from Greek, while moving Albanian singing seperated on top, rest on bottom. The entire edit is simply povish. Since you took the initiative without giving any explanation or summary you still need to clarify this first.Alexikoua (talk) 19:23, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
In the Alphabet, Albania is before Greece. Give evidence of adding an overxtended list. I also made edits to correct albanian words writen with no ë. Fix them. Stupidus Maximus (talk) 19:30, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Alexikoua you are commenting on the user and not on content. Maximus reordered following wp:MOS. Why would that be so upsetting to ordeal a revert by you? --Sulmues Let's talk 19:34, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm sorry but I'm clearly commenting both on contents and user, as I wrote above. Off course unexplained seperation of a section and childish moves don't apply to any MOS.Alexikoua (talk) 19:55, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Greek speaking villages...[edit]

Are not in Greece but in Albania. I suggest you remove those villages under Albania and mention their apparent greek population. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:27, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Here is an interesting link from unesco about the albanian iso polyphic music[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:36, 19 September 2012 (UTC)