The early days of Cypriot music was influenced by French musicians and the music they brought to the island. It was actually a cultural capital for a short while during the Middle Ages. Both secular and sacred polyphonic music was popular during this time. Later during the Renaissance period, there was a move to keep up with other current musical trends throughout Europe by introducing Cyprus to contrapuntal music. While under the Byzantine Empire, musical notation had its own reformation. However, it was one that was based on the early Greek notation and developed into something far more complicated that only few scholars knew how to read it correctly.
Traditional folk music has many similarities to the music of Greece but also borrows styles and instruments from Turkey as well. Violins are very common as well as the lute (for Greek-Cypriots) and the ud (for Turkish-Cypriots). Other popular instruments found in folk music are the accordion, various percussion instruments, and the penny whistle. It tends to be composed using modal scales, based off of different Arabic modes and musical styles. Greek-Cypriot music is also closely related to the music of the Aegean Islands.
Most folk music has a corresponding dance of the same name. Some of the more common dances are the thetatsia (or tatsia), syrtos (a type of line dance where the dancers hold hands in a curved line), and zeibeikiko. The sousta is performed with violins, lyres, and mandolins. Originally danced as a marital dance in Greek, it still retains its elements of eroticism and courtship and is danced with pairs of women and men opposite of each other. The karsilama is a suite of four dances (which is different from Greece and Turkey) performed in the standard 9/8 time signature. Some variations do have different time signatures, and the dances are different for men than women.
From the late 1970s, metal rock has taken hold of the Cypriot music scene. Now, I’m not a huge fan of metal, but I do like some of the old 80s metal bands if there’s a solid vocalist with a clear melody 95% of the time. I found a band called Winter’s Verge that I like pretty well. Ok, I have their album Tales of Tragedy in my Spotify playlist, and I have to admit, I’ve had some of their songs stuck in my head. What I like is not only the hard power rock feel, but I’m always a sucker for when bands use strings in rock. It automatically gives it that goth sound and complementary cool points. In some ways, it reminds me of old Metallica from the 1990s or my husband suggested that at times, it’s reminiscent of Megadeth or Judas Priest. This song is one of my favorite ones off this album (and reminds me a little of Staind.) I’ve been debating on whether or not to buy the album off iTunes. I’m supposed to be buying theatre tickets this weekend. I might have to buy both.
And not surprising, the rap and hip-hop scene is Cyprus is also alive and thriving. It sort of depends on the artist, but I’ve found some artists rapping in English and some in Greek. One artist that I found on Spotify was Lyrical Eye – I only found a few songs and most of those were collaborations and sung in English. The style is fairly mainstream American in style. The other one that I found was called DNA – Dimiourgoi Neas Antilipsis. Rapped in Greek, their style does have some elements of Greek-influenced music with the use of lutes mixed with Western turntables and drum beat. I like this artist better, but only because I love the fusion of these two different cultural elements.
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