Museum shows there's more to Greek music than bouzoukis

Mon Feb 16, 2015 5:18am EST
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By Jeremy Gaunt

ATHENS(Reuters) - Tucked away in a corner of Athens' historic Plaka district is a small museum showing that there is more to Greek music than "Zorba's Dance" and "Never on Sunday".

In fact, the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments, or MELMOKE, contains barely any bouzoukis, the quintessential Greek instrument that often accompanies the smashing of plates in overseas Greek restaurants.

Instead, visitors are treated to rows of wood and bone flutes, pottery drums called toumbeleki, and gaida - bagpipes made of sheep or goat skins.

On a recent Saturday, the basement was echoing to the sounds of students learning to sing and play old-style, including using a santouri, a type of hammer dulcimer.

"Traditional music was live until recently," said Petros Moustakas, a musicologist at MELMOKE, which is designed to protect the heritage and keep the old way going.

Modern Greek music is very popular in Greece and unlike many

European countries the local fare tends to outnumber English and American imports in music shops.

It is more like pop and disco, but Moustakas says it still uses the "modes" of traditional music, albeit in a far more urban way.   Continued...

A visitor looks at bells displayed at the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments (MELMOKE) in Athens February 15, 2015. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis