There is no doubt that Cretan traditional music falls squarely within the category of modal music. However, to which modal tradition does it belong? To the Byzantine ochtaechos? To the makam tradition? Or perhaps to both or neither of these? The use of an analytical tool such as is offered to us by any of the major modal systems is potentially very useful in understanding Cretan melodies, but it can also be somewhat misleading.
Most of the major modal systems historically refer to urban musical traditions, which do indeed exhibit similarities as well as significant differences to rural traditions, such as those of Crete. In this course we will analyze a variety of Cretan melodies (new and old) from a modal perspective in an effort to better understand how and why they have been constructed as they are, as well as to better understand what is required of us in order to be able to work creatively within this unique idiom.
This course is open to all instruments, although students should be comfortable with their instrument, able to focus on the theory and repertoire that this course focuses on. The structure and contents of this course will include:
Kontylies, Sousta, Pentozali, and “leaping” dances: Maleviziotikos, Anogeianos & Steiakos Pidichtos, Roumatiani Sousta etc.)
1) Repeated melodic/rhythmic phrase units within a limited tonal range.
2). The patterns of intervals (tetrachords/pentachords) used in Cretan music.
3). Shifting tonal centers.
1) Intervals and tonal “attraction.”
2) The structure of the old syrtos melodies of Chania.
3) The rhythmic cycle of the syrtos, and the relationship between the melodies and the dance.
4) Syrta of Rodinos.
5) More contemporary examples: compositions of Mountakis, Skordalos, Klados, Xylouris and others.
6) “Modern” compositions.
1) The relationship between Crete and Asia Minor.
2) The appearance of makam on Crete.
3) Rhythmical “misinterpretations.”
1) The melodic structure of Rizitiko songs.
2) The relationship of the lyrics to the melody.
3) Their probable descent from urban “literate” sources.
Harmony and Disharmony
1) The introduction of new instruments to Cretan music.
2) In search of a definition of Cretan music.