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Electronic Music & Sounds from Greece – Italy

cd eksofilo-small

This CD was made possible within the framework of the European Program Comenius Regio ARCA.DIA.logue being implemented by the 1st Athens Directorate for Secondary Education (DI.D.E. A’ Athens), Greece, in collaboration with the Puglia Regional Education Office (USR Puglia), Italy. A number of program participants recorded sounds of the countryside in the regions of Arkadia, Greece, and Salento, Italy. It was precisely those countryside sounds that became the anchor and the source of inspiration for a musical composition in six parts which employed electronic music.
Landscape I is the CD’s first track. Its rhythmic motif is based on sounds found in the natural environment (birds chirping, sheep bleating, etc) of Arkadia and Salento. Based on those sounds, we wrote a simple melody with a basso continuo accompaniment. Our key goal was to showcase the elements of nature and create in the mind of the listeners associations that would “transport” them to the mountains of Arkadia and the natural vistas of the region of Salento.
Talanton is the theme of the second track. A talanton, also known as a toaca or tuaka, is a form of musical instrument used by monks in Christian Orthodox monasteries and Greek Orthodox ones in particular. It is a five- or six-feet long wooden board with holes cut at either end. Ropes or chains are passed through the holes and the board is then suspended horizontally. Using a wooden hammer the monks repeatedly and rhythmically strike the board thus calling worshippers to mass and prayer. In the ravine of Lousios River, Arkadia, there are a number of historical monastic complexes which have retained the Mount Athos ascetic tradition in an environment of supreme tranquility. Nestled in their natural surroundings, the monasteries, together with Nature compose an ascetic and harmonious whole. In summer, the sound of the talanton calling the monks to prayer is the only sound disturbing the cicadas’ concert and the travelers’ contemplative mood. In this second track, the piano melody composed intertwines discreetly and unobtrusively with the sound the talanton emits.
The rhythmic base and composition of the CD’s third track drew inspiration from cupa cupa, a traditional musical instrument of Puglia, Italy. Cupa cupa belongs to the category of friction drums (tambour à friction), a percussion instrument consisting of a single membrane over a cylindrical sound box which can be a ceramic pot or jug, a wooden hollow object, or made from other materials such as tin. The stretched membrane has a reed attached to it. By rubbing a wet sponge on the reed, a characteristic sound is generated as the vibrations are conveyed via the membrane to the sound box.
The composition in the 4th track was inspired by the traditional loom which, in older times, played a key part in the home economy of the rural areas in Greece and Italy. Today, looms are sadly on the brink of extinction or can be located only in museums as the technological advances in weaving techniques have made the traditional loom no longer necessary. The loom’s sound was recorded in the region of Salento, ItalyIn the track, the music is interrupted at rhythmic intervals to showcase the sound of the weaving shuttle and the battening reed (type of comb) and remind us all of the everyday toil of our Greek and Italian ancestors who, for centuries on end, bent over the loom to produce woven goods and textiles of unparalleled beauty.
The fifth track’s title is “The Powder Mill”. In the past, powder mills such as the ones located in Dimitsana, Arkadia, were used in the production of black powder (gunpowder). In this track, our rhythmic base derives from the monotonous and rhythmic pounding sound the powder mill’s pilons made as they moved by means of a water power-driven water wheel to pound the ingredients of gunpowder together into one mixture: saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. The Powder Mills of Dimitsana are among the best known ones in Greece as they were the basic suppliers of the gunpowder needed for and used in the 1821 Greek War of Independence.
Landscape II is the sixth and last track of the CD. Its rhythmic motif is inspired from the sounds of nature in Arkadia (birds twitting etc). With the god Pan and the Nymphs in mind, we set up a musical dance which, again, we hoped that it would showcase the elements of nature and would “travel” the mind of listeners to the mountains of Arkadia.
One of the aims of the Comenius Regio ARCA.DIA.logue programme was to design creative educational actions that would lead to a learning journey to Tradition. In the case of our CD, our educational goal was to approach both the countryside and Tradition by means of sounds that define the regions of Arkadia, Greece, and Salento in Puglia, Southern Italy. Such sounds are those generated by a weaving loom, a powder mill’s pounding pilons, a monastic talanton being sounded, and by a cupa cupa, a traditional Salento musical instrument. Within the framework of this bipartisan, cross-cultural cooperation and by means of the process followed in our CD we will be able to discover and fully understand the meaning of “unity” that “diversity” has in a mutual cultural framework.
The CD’s cover was designed by the Institute of Professional Training (IEK) of Peristeri, Attica, Greece.
The electronic music made by the composer and conductor Dr. Ioannis Makris.