Why does Greek music sound Oriental? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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These were very interesting videos, for me especially because I've asked myself the same questions and because I have arrived at the exact same conclusions.
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I discovered Farya back in February this year.

I have been most pleased to watch and listen to his creations and have posted several of the musical ones in the Juke Box.

I am watching this video now.

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Ηπειρος της Πεντατονιας. Epirus of Pentatonia.

A 10 year work of over 500 musicians involved showcasing the pentatonic breadth by remixing certain folk songs with contemporary foreign and exotic sounds.

It's a pretty cool work. I bought this album composed of 4 cd's, a DVD(I believe), and a hard-cover book back in 1999 as a 15-year-old shopping for cd's in the local shop in downtown Piraeus after school.



Alternative rock rendition, not by the same people.

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A side note, per Wikipedia:

"Misirlou" (Greek: Μισιρλού < Turkish: Mısırlı 'Egyptian' < Arabic: مصر Miṣr 'Egypt'[1]) is a folk song[2] from the Armenian region. The original author of the song is not known, but Arabic, Greek, and Jewish musicians were playing it by the 1920s. The earliest known recording of the song is a 1927 Greek rebetiko/tsifteteli composition. . .

It gained worldwide popularity through Dick Dale's 1962 American surf rock version, originally titled "Miserlou", which popularized the song in Western popular culture; Dale's version was influenced by an earlier Arabic folk version played with an oud.
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Why does Greek music sound Oriental?

Because traditional Greece is oriental, kind of.

Although Greece can be said to be the origin of Western culture, at the same time Greece is in a little bit different category from Western Europe and the rest of Eastern Europe. Greece had a very dominant culture so never fully fell under the sway of Roman culture.

Greece may not be truly oriental but it is a middle area that does not easily fit into either category. Greece is also a Mediterranean country and was ruled by the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) for several hundred years.
Byzantium, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire also had a similar feel, different from the West, before it was conquered by Turkey.

Back in the 1900s, the "Oriental" usually referred to Turkey or Persia, sometimes the northern Levant countries like Syria and Lebanon, maybe the muslim countries in Central Asia. Although Chinese and even Japanese things (and people) might be referred to as Oriental for those who had very little familiarity with China and exotic Eastern culture and origins as more of a broad category. However, "oriental people" usually refers more to East Asian people like China.
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Puffer Fish wrote:Why does Greek music sound Oriental?

Because traditional Greece is oriental, kind of.

Although Greece can be said to be the origin of Western culture, at the same time Greece is in a little bit different category from Western Europe and the rest of Eastern Europe. Greece had a very dominant culture so never fully fell under the sway of Roman culture.


The videos prove without a shadow of a doubt that what people term as Oriental & Western Music systems can rightly be just called Greek music.

So Greece retains both(and more) styles of Music, natively. This also explains why for example Greece has music that sounds oriental to a westerner but does not even exist in "oriental countries" such as rebetiko for example which would sound peculiar to a Turk or Persian as it does not exist in their countries even though it sounds extremely "oriental".

Back in the 1900s, the "Oriental" usually referred to Turkey or Persia, sometimes the northern Levant countries like Syria and Lebanon, maybe the muslim countries in Central Asia. Although Chinese and even Japanese things (and people) might be referred to as Oriental for those who had very little familiarity with China and exotic Eastern culture and origins as more of a broad category. However, "oriental people" usually refers more to East Asian people like China.


Funnily enough Greek Music also sounds Far-Eastern too and Greek folk and modern music still retain the Pentatonic system that traditionally sounds Japanese or Chinese. It is highly unlikely that China or Japan inherited it from the Greeks or vice-versa and one of the videos above deals with this peculiar question.

Modern Greek music sounds Western(because of the Heptatonic system), Balkan, Middle-Eastern(because of the Chromatic system) & Sino-Japanese(because of the Pentatonic system), natively. Greek music is extremely diverse.

The Heptatonic, Pentatonic, Chromatic System have existed in Greece since the antiquity.

The Heptatonic became popular in the West.
The Chromatic became popular in the Middle-East.
The Pentatonic was discovered independently by Greece and China sometime in the 1st millenium BCE. it remains the most popular style of Music in the Far-East.

Ancient Greece used to have one more system called the Enharmonic(not to be confused with the harmonic system which is Heptatonic), which was used for ritual, was extremely dark and was trashed by the Philosophers as "dangerous". This modal system was not adopted by anybody and was abandoned by Greece sometime during the 2nd-5th CE. So it did not develop like the other musical systems and modes.

This is a preserved example of the Enharmonic mode:

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