various artists,
Bagpipes of Greece
(Topic, 2005)

We don't usually think of bagpipes when we think of Greek music -- bouzouki, tambour, fiddles, even, if we go back a way, panpipes, but not bagpipes. When you stop to think about it, that's rather odd: pipes in general are one of the basic classes of musical instrument, and bagpipes in some form seem to be part of a pan-European tradition, with examples from Spain to Scandinavia, from the British Isles to the Balkans.

As Wolf Dietrich points out in his commentary on Bagpipes of Greece, there has been a revivial in music for the bagpipes in Europe in recent decades that doesn't seem to have spread to Greece, although there seems to be a long tradition of music for the gáida in the north, the tsamboúna in the Greek Aegean and the toloúmi in the Pontus.

Consequently, this collection is as much, or more, an ethnographic document as musical entertainment. It has been a long-term project: some tracks were recorded in the early 1970s; performers, the vast majority over 50 years of age, are listed along with their "day jobs" (carpenter, shepherd, peasant).

As a document, I have no complaints, and will happily include this in my ever-growing collection of music from various places around the world. I don't think, however, that it will occupy a frequent place on my CD changer: at 28 tracks running just over an hour, that's a lot of bagpipes, which can be somewhat nervewracking, especially since the variations in melody and tempo tend to blend into one long piece.

by Robert M. Tilendis
11 November 2006

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