Culture – Music

Habits and customs, folk art and architecture, dances and songs, are all reflections of the soul of the people and have their roots deeply embedded in the past.

Folk singing in Naxos holds significant value as a national treasure. It forms an essential part of the island’s musical tradition and is deeply intertwined with dance. Within the community of singers, instrumentalists, and dancers, one can discern the lyrical Cycladic poems of ancient times, characterized by their distinct idiomatic and skeletal structure.

Lyric poetry flourished in the Cyclades, with the individual at its core. The prevailing ideal of that era was to live life as it is, embracing the present moment. Youth and love were highly cherished values. Cycladic poetry was crafted with a focus on human-centric thinking, representing a decisive shift towards celebrating mankind.

Since ancient times, Naxos has developed its own unique musical identity, influenced by the cosmic and Byzantine elements of sound. The relative isolation of the island facilitated the separate evolution of local music. The majority of Naxian songs are accompanied by instruments such as the lute, violin, guitar, and tsabouna (a type of Greek bagpipe).

One notable aspect of Naxian musical tradition is the practice of “autonomous distich songs“. These are improvised verses that hold conceptual autonomy. They are spoken in everyday life, often employing rhyme and occasionally sung. These songs are personal expressions, ephemeral in nature, and follow conventional patterns. Rhyme is a deliberate and integral musical element in Naxian songs, and every Naxian song incorporates rhyme. In terms of rhymes, the lyrics for “Kotsakia” are usually improvised by the dancers and singers, with the focus on creating a fun and describing the present situation. The lyrics often consist of playful jokes, teasing, and light-hearted banter, with each dancer trying to outdo the others with their wit and humor.

“Pain can only be overcome with joy. One commandment then: To enjoy the joyful element of life promptly.”

Archilochus Greek lyric poet 680 BC -645 BC, Paros