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Music of Cyprus

Characteristics of Fones

Some of the musical features that characterize the Fones (and a large number of other Cypriot
folk songs) are listed below. Features 1-7 were obtained from a semi-automatic analysis of a
subset of Fones melodies (cf. 6.2) although some of these had been already implied in the
literature (i.e. the use of microtonal intervals, 7th point). The rest were summarised from
[Zarmas 1993, Tombolis 1966, Karagiorgis 2010].

1. The pitch range of the melody is usually limited to a perfect fifth or sometimes a major
sixth interval.
2. Successive melodic steps usually do not exceed a major 3rd, with semitones being used

3. The main part of the melodic phrase is characterised by the insistence on the fourth or
fifth scale degrees and those contiguous notes.
4. At the beginning and the end of the phrase the melody ascends or descends in usually four
or five consecutive steps, (a “tetra/penta-chordal” movement).
5. The initial note is usually the third (especially when interjection words occur) or the
fourth. With interjections, we often observe a short ascending glissando just before introducing
the starting note of the melody.

6. Last note of the melodic phrase is (usually) the tonic.

7. Intervals other than equal-tempered are used and are particularly emphasised in the
embellishments of specific notes such as the highest note or the last note of the phrase.

8. Musical form can be either AA’ or AB

9. Phrase structure consists of a 15-syllable verse of two sentences; the beginning sentence
of 8-syllable length and the ending sentence of 7-syllable length (8+7).
10. Variations of the 15-syllable verse can be of the structure:
a. 8+8+7 (addition of a beginning sentence)
b. 8+7+7 (repetition of the ending sentence)
c. 8+8+7+7 (addition of a beginning sentence and repetition of the ending sentence)
11. Beginning with an interjection for the majority of the fones. This is usually an “Ee” or “Oo”
and reminds the hesitation expression of someone who doesn’t know what to say next. Note
that fones melodies were used for verse improvisation and that could be the reason of the
presence of these interjections. In addition, the interjection “Ai” can also be observed in some
cases and its role is rather to express pain. Whenever this appears it lasts longer than the other
interjections and it thoroughly consists of ornamentation, especially melismas.
Theory of Byzantine echos
The Byzantine music is characterised by the modes called echos (plural echoi). Experts
of Byzantine music define in total eight basic echoi, a system also referred to as
“octaechos” (eight-mode) [Levy & Troelsgard 2011]. In Byzantine notation, these eight
modes are categorised into four authentic modes and their corresponding four plagal
modes, namely the: First authentic, Second authentic, Third authentic, Fourth
authentic, First plagal, Second plagal, Grave13 , Fourth Plagal.

Traditional music[edit]
Traditional music on Cyprus is similar to the traditional music of Greece and includes dances like
the tatsia, sousta, syrtos, ballos, zeibekiko, karotseris and the karsilama suites. Note that unlike
Greece and Turkey, there are suites of four karsilama dances, different for men and women, some
of them other than the standard 9/8 rhythm. Traditional Cypriot music – similar to Greek and
Turkish traditional music – is modal, based on the musical systems of the Byzantine echos and the
Turkish makam. Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots use the violin as the main solo instrument,
accompanied by the lute. The tamboutsia and the pithkiavlin are also used. Until the beginning of
the 20th century, the davul and the zurna (daouli and zournas in Greek) were used by both
communities (although mostly by Turkish Cypriots) in village festivals and weddings, but these
instruments were later excluded from the Greek Cypriot soundscape. Another instrument that
was played earlier in Cyprus was tambouras, which is known in Greece as ‘pandoura’ or
‘trichordo’ (a three-stringed instrument). Notable performers of Greek Cypriot folk music include
singers Theodoulos Kallinikos, Michael Tterlikkas, Christos Sikkis, Michalis Hatzimichail and Ilias
Kouloumis. A niche artist of traditional music is Gianni Delfinogamis, a champion of
many tshiatísta(Cypriot Greek: τσιατίστα, "spite [song]") competitions. The tsiatísta is
improvised antiphonal singing akin to the Cretanmantinada, with satirical and comedic intent,
usually performed between friends or relatives poking fun at each other. Greek-Cypriot folk music
is most closely related to the Nisiotika (the folk music of the Aegean Islands) and especially so to
the music of the Dodecanese. The traditional music of Cyprus is also greatly influenced from the
music of the Greeks of Asia Minor.
Attempts to either popularize or fuse traditional music with other genres have taken place since
the 1970s. For example, the famous singer and composer, in Cyprus and Greece, of traditional
Cypriot and popular music is Mihalis Violaris. Another example includes Monsieur Doumani, a
Cypriot band from Nicosia which focuses on developing Cypriot traditional music and reworking
traditional Cypriot folk songs.[1]
Classical music[edit]
The Republic of Cyprus has its own Symphony Orchestra, the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra, a
professional, full-time symphonic orchestra which was established in 1987 (as the Cyprus
Chamber Orchestra) along with the Cyprus Youth Symphony Orchestra and its Music School which
provides education and musical training to young musicians of all levels. These institutions are
under the umbrella of the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra Foundation which is fully subsidised and
supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. [2] [3]
Cypriot musicians and performers of classical music include the pianists Cyprien
Katsaris and Martino Tirimo and the pianist and musicologist Solon Hadjisolomos.
Notable composers include:
 Nicolas Economou
 Marios Joannou Elia
 Yannis Kyriakides (born 1969),[4] Cyprus-the Netherlands
 Solon Michaelides (1905–1979), Cyprus-Greece
 George Kallis Cyprus-USA
 Andreas G Orphanides
 Savvas Savva
 Andys Skordis
Western popular music[edit]
Rock and heavy metal music[edit]
First era: 1970s to 1990s[edit]
The history of Cyprus' rock and heavy metal music begins a few years after the war of 1974,
during the late 1970s. This period is known as the First Rock Era of Cyprus. One of the pioneers of
the rock/metal scene in Cyprus is the band known as Kimstyle TR (TR standing for Teenage
Revolution). This band was the first to bring and introduce live rock shows to the Island. The
band's first pop/rock single was called "The Lady & The Parrot" which was so ahead of its time,
for the standards of Greece and Cyprus, that the lyrics were found offensive; therefore, it was
banned by CyBC TV and copies of the single were burnt by the customs authorities. This spawned
many teenagers to start forming bands & that brought competitions amongst them in the movie
theatres. Kimstyle and Kim Nicolaou's Rock & Reggae show (first of its kind broadcast by CyBC),
who later influenced the group Armageddon in the mid-1980s, with their traditional heavy metal
sound are considered to have taken rock music on the Island one step further. The longest-
running band to date, they have managed to be synonymous to the Cyprus metal scene
throughout the years, with quality releases and a few visits abroad. Nowadays, they have moved
more into the progressive side of metal.
In the early 1990s, Godblood started the local Black metal scene, acting firstly as a school-band,
and later on continuing with their small record label 'Throne Productions'. They have disbanded
and only some can recall some shows they had in Cyprus with bands from the Greek
scene like Rotting Christ and an international festival in Israel in the late 1990s. In Heavy/Power
metal there were bands of great quality such as Diphtheria and later Arryan Path leading the
There were also a couple of active Thrash metal bands during that era giving great live shows
such as Regicide(supporting Epidemic) and then Scotoma. Eventually, the 1990s were a very
active period for the scene in general.
After 2000[edit]
Some popular rock bands in Cyprus are Akoustikoi Epivates (founded by lead singer Vyronas
Poutsos), lopodytes, savvas isovitis(solo singer/guitar), by accident, Katadotes (Καταδότες), Full
Volume, Quadraphonic, Johnny & the Liars (Punk/Alternative rock), Maenads, Forty Plus, Triple
Jam and Krokes (both are Greek rock bands), Ophiochus (Instrumental Funk/Rock), Isaac's Cello
Active bands, with releases and/or live shows of the 2000s (some appeared also in magazines
and websites around the globe):[5]
 Methysos
 Stormcast
 Winter's Verge
Progressive rock/metal[edit]
Progressive rock is one of the newest genres entering the Cyprus rock music scene, with the only
band following this genre and possibly sparking its creation in 2004, Quadraphonic.
Quadraphonic (a.k.a. Q4) is a Progressive rock/metal band that continues to play gigs all over
Cyprus. With a wide variety of influences concentrated mainly on Progressive Rock, Funk,
Oriental and Metal, this band has created an original type of music, which however has limited
World musics[edit]
One of the most successful and recognised world music groups in Cyprus is Monsieur Doumani.
The group was formed in Nicosia in 2012 and has released two albums, Grippy Grappa (2013) and
Sikoses (2015). The band focuses upon the unique character of Cypriot folkloric music, enriching
traditional songs with new arrangements, melodies, rhythms and sounds and crafting a style
distinctively their own. The band’s music is a blend of the traditional element with modern
genres.Their repertoire also includes their own compositions in the Cypriot Greek dialect, which
are inspired by contemporary Cypriot society, as for example the recent financial crisis that hit
the island and the corrupted political system. Monsieur Doumani was nominated for "Best
Newcomer" in Songlines Music Awards 2014 and participated in acclaimed festivals around the
globe such as WOMAD Charlton Park[6] 2014, Sommarscen Malmö, Songlines Encounters Festival
Electronic/world music[edit]
In 2008 the electronic/world music group Mikros Kosmos ("small world") arrived in Cyprus and
recorded their first album in Nicosia. Their first performances presented live remixes for laptop
and voice of classic Greek rebetika, with performances at New York City's Golden Festival and
elsewhere in the United States. Mikros Kosmos's full-length original album moves away from the
classic rebetika with an affection for minimal arrangements and a lyrical abstraction which is
uncommon in the history of Greek music.
 Kypria Festival [2]
 Pafos Aphrodite Festival (an international opera festival in Pafos) [3]
 International Music Festival at the Kourion Amphitheatre. [4]
 During the spring months of April and May Bellapais Abbey (a 13th
Century Lusignan Monastery in Kyrenia) hosts celebrated musicians from all over the
 Salamis in Famagusta is another such Cyprus historic site used for concerts.