Arvanites’ Songs and Music

Arvanites’ Songs and Music

Douou, douou, douskou, dou Douskou douskou* and holly Douskou, douskou and holly And a Kallianotikos leg! (traditional lyrics - * douskou in the language of the Arvanites was the holly blossom)

Self-taught musicians abounded in the villages of Ochi and they would play to relieve the harsh conditions and isolation in the villagers’ lives. The settlement of the Arvanites in southern Evia (the northern side of Ochi up to Aliveri and Avlonari) occurred between 1402 and 1425 at the encouragement of the Venetians who wanted to use them in their military campaigns. The Arvanites became fully integrated with the locals, both borrowing and lending elements of their own culture. One of the elements that left a deep imprint on the area was the language. These days, it is spoken by the older people, but it is gradually being lost. The mass migration away from the countryside has meant that old songs and dances that the farmers and shepherds in the Ochi villages used to enjoy are being forgotten. The simple, spontaneous Arvanitika songs of southern Karystia were improvised. The themes of the songs were the family and social life. During a feast, or while dancing, songs were inspired by the moment and performed by people who knew neither how to read or write. The songs were handed down from generation to generation orally. The Arvanitika songs were made to dance to. The three basic musical instruments of a Cavo d’Oro band were the lyra, the bagpipe and the tabor. Lutes and fiddles came to southern Karystia after 1900, while the clarinet was used rarely. There are also pseudo musical instruments: mainly leaves such as ivy leaves, lemon tree leaves and strawberry tree leaves that mimicked the sound of bagpipes and clarinets. The dances myloniatikos, karystinos, ballos, and stavrotos kavodoritikos (or kallianiotikos) were danced throughout a feast and the dancers would only stop to refresh themselves with some wine. The kavodoritikos or stavrotos of Karystia is one of the most well-known Greek island dances.

music instrument: bagpipe


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