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Music of Greece
General Topics
AncientByzantineNéo kýmaPolyphonic song
EntehnoFolkHip hopLaïkoPunkRockSkiladiko
Specific Forms
Media and Performance
Music awards Arion Awards • MAD Video Music Awards • Pop Corn Music Awards
Music charts Greek Albums ChartForeign Albums ChartSingles Chart
Music festivals Thessaloniki Song Festival
Music media Difono • MAD TV (MAD World, Blue)MTV Greece
National anthem "Hymn to Liberty"
Regional Music
Related areas Cyprus
Regional styles Aegean Islands • Arcadia • Argos • Crete • Cyclades • Dodecanese Islands • Epirus • Ionian Islands • Lesbos • Macedonia • Peloponnesos • Thessaly • Thrace

Greek folk music includes a variety of styles played by ethnic Greeks in Greece, Cyprus, [Australia], the United States and elsewhere. Apart from the common music found all-around Greece, there are distinct types of folk music, sometimes related to the history or simply the taste of the specific places.


Aegean Islands

Main article: Music of the Aegean Islands (Nisiótika)

The Aegean islands of Greece are known for nisiótika songs; characteristics vary widely. Although the basis of the sound is characteristically secular-Byzantine, the relative isolation of the islands allowed the separate development of island-specific musics. Most of the Nisiótika songs are accompanied by lira, clarinet, guitar and violin. Modern stars include Effi Sarri and the Konitopoulos clan; Mariza Koch is credited with reviving the field in the 1970s. Folk dances include the chiotikos, stavrotos, ballos syrtos, trata and ikariotikos.

One of the most famous singers of cycladic music is Domna Samiou.


The Greek islands of Kárpathos, Khálki, Kássos and Crete form an arc where the lira is the dominant instrument. Kostas Mountakis is probably the most widely-respected master of the lira, which is often accompanied by the laoúto which resembles a mandolin. Bagpipes are often played on Kárpathos. Crete has a well known folk dance tradition, which includes swift dances like syrtos, maleviziotikos, haniotikos, pentozalis and laziotikos.


In the Aegean Cyclades, the violin is more popular than the lira, and has produced several respected musicians, including Nikos Ikonomidhes, Nikos Hatzopoulos and Stathis Koukoularis.


Cyprus is an independent country, currently contested between the Republic of Cyprus and the internationally unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Cyprus' folk traditions include dances like the sousta, syrtos, zeimbekikos, dachas, and the kartsilamdhes.

Dodecanese Islands

There are prominent elements of Cretan music on the Dodecanese Islands. Dodecanese folk dances include the trata, ballos, syrtos, issos and syrtos rodou.


In Epirus, folk songs are pentatonic and polyphonic,sung by both male and female singers. Distinctive songs include mirolóyia (mournful tunes) vocals with skáros accompaniment and tis távlas (drinking songs). The clarinet is the most prominent folk instrument in Epirus, used to accompany dances, mostly slow and heavy, like the menousis, fisouni, podhia, sta dio, sta tria, zagorisios, kentimeni, koftos, yiatros and tsamikos.

Ionian Islands

The Ionian Islands were never under Turkish control, and their kantádhes (traditional songs) are based on the popular Italian style of the early 19th century. Kantádhes are performed by three male singers accompanied by mandolin or guitar. These romantic songs developed mainly in Kefallonia in the early 19th century but spread throughout Greece after the liberation of Greece. An Athenian form of kantádhes arose, accompanied by violin, clarinet and laouto. However the style is accepted as uniquely Ionian. The island of Zakynthos has a diverse musical history with influences from Venice, Crete and elsewhere. The island's music heritage is celebrated by the Zakynthos School of Music, established in 1815. Folk dances include the tsirigotikos, ballos, ai yiogis, kerkyraikos and kato sto yialo.


Folk dances in Macedonia include samarinas, akritikos, baidouska, gaida, macedonikos antikristos, leventikos, mikri eleni, partalos, kastorianos and sirtos macedonias.


Folk dances from Peloponnesos include the kariatidon, tsakonikos and Kalamatianos syrtos.


There is a long-standing tradition of a cappella music in Thessaly, including in dance music. Folk dance from Thessaly is slow and stately, and includes dances like the klistos, tai-tai, pilioritikos, svarniara, sta tria and karagouna.


Instruments used in ancient Thracian music such as Bagpipes (gaida) and lyra are still the ordinary instruments of folk music in Thrace. Folk dances include the tripati, sfarlis, souflioutouda, zonaradikos, kastrinos, syngathistos, baintouska and apadiasteite sto xoro. In Thrace, there is also a Muslim, mainly Turkish and Gypsy, minority. The dominant music of Turkey, Halay, had been banned in Turkey because of its Middle East origins in the past. Thus the traditional music of the minority in Greece is usually seen as more genuine Turkish (Halay) than the folk music found in Turkey itself. Halay is a famous dance in the Middle East. It is a symbol for the tempestuous way of life in its place of origin, Anatolia. It is a national dance in Armenia and Turkey. The traditional form of the Halay dance is played on the Zurna, supported by a Davul. The dancers form a circle or line, while holding each other with the little finger. From Anatolia the Halay has spread to many other Regions, like Armenia or the Balkans.

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