Music is one of the most popular cultural activities in Greece. It is connected to the historical importance of the song and to the popularity of musical expression through dancing. Music in Greece is considered a Greek perfection. In ancient Greece, poetry was used in art, music, and education.
From the cultural point of view, this is how the Greeks taught their children. Back then, even though most of what we know about their Greek poetry was written down, most people couldn't read or write so everything was memorized. The Greeks used the aulos, which is an early version of the recorder and the lyre, which is an early guitar. Besides being blessed by the muses with the gift of, almost all the ancient poets had other occupations. Some were teachers, others philosophers and some were soldiers. Even the government hired poets to write words praising the rulers to try to get people to follow their every whim. This is known today as propaganda.
Music is very popular in Greece and the country has a prolific, varied musical history. From the folk music of the workers to the Easter hymns of the Orthodox Church, the Greeks use music to express their joys and their sorrows, to pray party and mourn. Greek music is central to Greek culture and history, and the word music itself derives from ancient Greek.
Other Art forms
Greek Music is closely related to other sciences such as mathematics and philosophy thus it was one of the important subjects in young people’s education. Its connection to the theatre and poetry was of major significance. Masterpieces of Greek literature such as the Homeric epics and Ancient Tragedies were preserved thanks to music. It is an indisputable fact in Greece, that music has made an invaluable contribution to the development and diversity of the Ancient Greek culture.
Music in Ancient Greece
Ancient Music in Greece remains one of the least illuminated chapters of the History of Greek Culture. Despite the fact that we have access to information concerning the role of music in everyday life, a great deal of significant information about the sound and the way it was played remains unknown. The studies of the Greek ancient sources reveal that the role of music in ancient Greece was far more complicated than that of music nowadays. Greek Music nowadays is part of our everyday routine and a means of entertainment.
Greek everyday Music routine
In Greece, music was people’s everyday routine and due to the fact that music was a complicated form of art as well as a cultural expression, it was highly regarded in all private and public festivities. Music, the singing and lyrics, Orphisms, group of dancers as well as the song between the acts were the Greek features of a highly civilized community. From the archaic period Greek music gradually assumed a more complicated form and role, the result of this development was that special music competitions were organized in many parts of Greece. After the 6th century music played a significant role in two major festivities known as ‘Megala Panathinea’ and ‘Megala Dionysia’ and was a main reason for Athens to hold a prominent position in terms of cultural development. During those festivities some very significant kinds of lyric poetry and music emerged, the most significant kind of which was the Ancient Drama. Music was a main feature in celebrations such as weddings, social gatherings and a valuable companion in everyday routine. Music in Greece was closely connected with sports and athletic games, mainly because the music would encourage and motivate the athlete to achieve a better performance.
Greece consists of 13 regions. They have their own musical institutions most of which have a long tradition and still contribute to the active musical. There are many town bands and their most intense concentration is observed in the Ionian Islands. Some possible explanations lie in the musical history of the area, is oblation from the mainland, and the general cultural climate.
The nature of Greek Music
Based on the ancient Greeks, music was divine as it assisted in healing both soul and body. It soothed people’s souls and it inspired and helped them relax. The above mentioned features justified the presence of Greek Music and Orphisms in religious festivities such as the ‘Panathenaea’ held in Athens.
Music Education in Modern Greece
Before 1990, there was inadequate provision for aesthetics and arts education within the Greek education system. A Presidential Decree for Aesthetics Education made significant proposals for the Greek modernization of arts education in schools, particularly in reforming and regenerating art teaching.
After that period, the Ministry of Culture launched the Melina Project to the educational system that aims to raise the status and improve the quality of the Greek cultural dimension in education and to the revival of the daily school activities. Melina’s project encourages a review of existing teaching methods and curriculum content in the arts, such as theatre, modern dance, music, photography and literature.
Music in Schools
Music in Greece is an obligatory. This includes the knowledge of knowing the elements of music, instrumentation, singing and basic music theory. Choral groups and orchestras exist in all the schools that perform in different occasions and celebrations of the school life. Especially in the Greek Universities, the lessons concern musicology, music education, acoustics, choral conducting, ethnomusicology, music and general pedagogy, traditional Greek music, Byzantine music, psychology, music history, form, harmony, analysis, counterpoint and fugue. There are Greek schools, specific for Music, that Greece called Music Schools. The curriculum for these includes individual performance lessons and lessons in the classical instruments. Also studies in theory, analysis, harmony, form and structure, history of music, counterpoint, and Byzantine music are taught as classroom subjects.
Types of the Greek Music
Laika songs, evolved from Rebetiko, simplifying the Greek music and making it easier on the ear and more suitable for mass distribution. Laika song is very popular music in Greece and is the most prevalent genre of the Greek music. This type of music, usually sing of love and loss.
Rebetiko, is a genre of the music in Greece, which first appeared at the end of the 19th century. This type of Greek music was developed out of the harbors where the Greek working classes lived. Rebetiko combines traditional Greek folk songs with the more contemporary songs sung in large Greek cities.
Nisiotika, is the music of the central Aegean Sea, (Sporades, Dodecanese and Cyclades). After 1975, popular Greek musicians, began singing Nisiotika songs and they became popular nationally. The lute and the violin are the central instruments of this type of Greek music. They are songs with a gentle rhythm and soothing melodies.
Cretan music is focal to Cretan Greek Culture which is one of the most vibrant cultures in Greece. Cretan music is popular across the Greek mainland and islands. Cretan music is characterized by its improvisation. It evolved out of ancient Greek and Byzantine Music.