a) Constantinople lyra

1. Asia Minor Dance Suite

Taximi Hijaz 2:35

Zeibekikos 3:03

Syrtos Azizie 3:33

Karsilamas 1:41


Taximi Kiourdili Hijazkiar 1:59

Zeibekikos “Whenever you see two cypress trees” 2:59

Socrates Sinopoulos, Constantinople lyra

Pericles Papapetropoulos, Tambour

Amin Ala Gabu, Bentir

Socrates Sinopoulos was born in Athens in 1974

b) Cretan lyra

3. Syrta Rodinou 5:36

A medley of traditional melodies named in honour of Andreas Rodinos (1912-1934) after the manner in which he himself performed (and in 1934 recorded) them. They form a significant part of the Cretan musical tradition.

4. Rethemiotiki sousta 3:12

5. Stafidianos melody (manes) 3:03

6. “Kondylies” from Mylopotamos and a fast “pentozali” (Cretan dance) 5:16

7. “Kastrinos” dance (Maleviziotikos) 5:02

Zaharias Spyridakis, Cretan lyre (with supplementary string, #3-6 &without #7),

Karolos Kouklakis, Laouto (lute)

Pericles Papapetropoulos, Boulgari (#3,4,6,7)

Vangelis Karipis, Bentir (#3) & Toumbaki (#5)

Tambour (#3: 3,

Zaharias Spyridakis was born in Athens in 1971 and in 1984 began studying with Kostas Mountakis.

c) Pontic lyra

8. Kotsari. From the district of Kars 2:58

9. Lament (Charon) 2:46

10. Omal (4/4) From the region of Garasar 2:56

11. Tik (5/8) From the Matsoka area of the Pontus. Solo dance 2:57

12. Dipat (9/8) From the district of Trebizond. A woman’s dance 2:55


13. Tas (6/8) From the district of Kars. 2:43

14. Pyrrihios-Sera (3/8). From the Matsouka area in the district of Trebizond. 2:40

George Amarantidis

George Amarantidis was born in 1944 in Kapnohori, Kozani. His father was also a lyra player and singer. He grew up and was taught his art in an environment where the Pontic musical tradition was authentic and alive. At the age of 15 he began playing the lyra at weddings, festivals and other celebrations. After arriving in Athens around 1973-74, he met Dora Stratou with whom he worked for nine years, as well as with Domna Samiou. He has always tried to remain faithful to the Pontic tradition, avoiding innovations. Therefore his recordings only include old traditional songs. The lyra he plays in this collection is 300 years old, made of plum wood and of course, originates in the Pontus.

Daouli played by Yiorgos Yevyelis.


“Greek popular musical instruments” Fivos Anogianakis, Athens 1976.

“Greek musical instruments” Stavros Karasakis, Athens 1970.

“The history of musical instruments” C. Sachs, New York, 1940.

The text on the Constantinople lyra was written by Socrates Sinopoulos.

Recorded at the SIGMA studio.

English translation: Yvette Varvaressou

Supervision of production: Petros Tabouris

Cretan lyra

The lyra has a pear-shaped soundtable and short arm, without frets, extending from the soundtable, tuning keys (positioned from back to front), bridge and three single strings attached to the end of the soundtable (“kteni”).

Played with a bow, the instrument is usually made by the musician himself, and can be of various sizes according to the type of sound required, whether deep or high and piercing. It is usually 0.40-0.50 m long and 0.15-0.20 m wide. Mulberry, ivy, oleander, wild pear, walnut, chestnut, maple, beech, plum or cypress are used to make the soundtable, the arm and the head, which are usually contracted from a single piece of wood.

Mulberry, ivy and wild pear are considered to give the best sound. Pine or fir is used for the lid. The soundtable, or “kafka”, is hollowed out with small sharp knives, chisels and other cutting tools. The thickness of the sides varies from 0.3-1cm, and is not uniform for the whole instrument. It is usually thinner around the sides and thicker at the base. In the past, a small hole was made in the base to make the sound louder. The instrument’s short arm extends from the soundtable, culminating in the head with its tuning keys, called the “kefaloma”.

The lid is slightly convex, made of well-dried wood that has straight, thick grains and no knots. Its thickness is uniform, usually only a few millimetres. In the past some lyras were made entirely (soundtable, arm, head and lid) of the same hard wood (mulberry, walnut, cypress, etc). Two semi-circular holes (the “eyes”) are always made in the lid. The column is considered the “soul” of the instrument. One end is supported on the base of the soundtable and the other on the base of the bridge and not on the lid, as is usually the case in the violin family. The three tuning keys (usually known as “striftalia”), are of various sizes according to the musician’s preference and style of playing. Around the keys there are three strings which rest on the bridge and are attached to the other end of the instrument, either on an extension of the soundtable or “kteni”, made of hard wood or bone.

The first string, tuned to the highest note, is called the “kanti”, “kantini”, “teli”, or “daktylokorda”, the middle string is known as the “mesiaki” or “mesiani”, while the third and lowest is called the “vourghara” or “bassa”. In the past the strings were made of sheep gut, but nowadays commercial strings, usually violin strings, are used. Another past custom was to add one to three supplementary strings, attached to an equal number of extra tuning keys alongside the main keys. They were passed through holes in the bridge beneath the main strings and were attached to the end of the lyra in the same way as the main strings. Usually tuned identically to the latter, or one octave lower, they intensified and made the sound “sweeter”, that is they added harmonies. Often a small bridge was attached to the head of the lyra on which the middle string rested in order to bring it in line with the other two. The strings, played with a bow, are usually about 28-32 cm long from the tuning keys to the bridge.

The bow tended to be convex in the past and made of wood. Its length varied from 45-50, sometimes even 60 cm. It had horse-tail hairs (“beghiri”) and small bells (“gherakokoudhouna” or “lyrarokoudouna”) hanging from it. As the bow moved back and forth, the bells provided rhythmic accompaniment to the melody. The hairs were attached to each end of the bow in various ways, and were rubbed with resin or even incense. Nowadays most musicians use a violin bow.

The lyra is usually only decorated on the sides of the soundtable and on the head in front, with geometric carvings and rosettes and other raised designs (such as anchors, birds, flower pots, etc.) and heads of birds or animals.

The pear-shaped lyra is tuned in 5ths. In the past it was also tuned “a la Turca” (intervals of 4th and 5th)).

The strings are not pressed with the flat of the fingers, as with the violin, but with the fingernail, which presses the strings from the side.

The melody is usually played on the first, highest string. The second string (one fifth lower than the first) is not often used for the melody, and the third string (at intervals of 4ths or 5ths) rarely so. However, during the playing the bow often scrapes the second string along with the first, on which the melody is being played or the second and third strings together, thus accompanying the melody with a rudimentary “harmony” (with a drone).

When the lyra was played solo, it provided its own accompaniment from the rhythmical beat and sounds made by the bells as the bow moved back and forth. When the musician is seated, the lyra rests on the left thigh, or between the legs. When the musician is wandering around, he rests the lyra on his chest. In the past, the lyra in this case rested on the musician’s wide belt. Apart from “lyraris”, the musician is also called a “lyratzis”, “lyritzis” or “lyristis”.

Constantinople lyra (“politiki” i.e. “of the city” or “polis”)

The type of lyra encountered in Constrantinople (Istanbul) is pear-shaped with three strings. What distinguishes it from the other types of lyra found in Crete, the Dodecanese, Thrace and Bulgaria is its small size, nasal sound and the playing technique.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, its repertoire included popular songs and instrumental pieces performed by famous Greek and Turkish lyra-players in the taverns of Constantinople, accompanied solely by the Constantinople lute. At the beginning of this century, thanks to the Greek master Vasilakis, the lyra was introduced into art music ensembles of the “city”, replacing the “rebab” and the violin. As a consequence, the technique changed, chiefly due to Vasilakis’ pupil Tanbouri Cemil Bey, who introduced new techniques in fingering as well as in the use of the bow, influenced by the tambour, his first instrument. Unfortunately his predecessors, including Vasilakis himself, left no recordings. Nonetheless sufficient evidence of the old technique is to be found on recordings of more recent musicians (during the 20th century) who had not been greatly influenced by Cemil Bey. The most prominent of these are Paraschos, Alekos Bazianos and Lambros Leondaridis.

The Pontic lyra or “kementzes”

The lyra played by the Greeks of the Pontus and Cappadocia is arc-shaped with a bottle-shaped soundtable, short arm without frets, tuning keys positioned form front to back and three single strings. Thus it differs from the pear-shaped lyra not only as regards its shape but in the way the sound is produced. It is usually constructed by the musician himself, and is of various sizes. It is usually 50-56 cm long, 10 cm wide and its widest point near the bottom, and 3-4 cm in depth. These days there are craftsmen in many cities producing the Pontic lyra.

Plum wood, mulberry, ivy, walnut, cedar or acacia, etc., is used for the soundtable and head, which need to be made of a single piece of wood. Plum is considered the best, followed by ivy. For the lid, usually convex in shape, pine and fir ar mostly used. Two holes are made on either side of the soundtable, while two long, narrow and slightly convex openings (known as “rothonia”) are made on the lid.

The top of the column (“skoular”), is attached to the lid (just beneath the left foot of the bridge) on the side of the highest-tuned string, and the bottom is attached to the base of the soundtable.

The three strings are wound around the tuning keys and rest against the upper and lower bridge, and are attached to the lower end of the soundtable (palikari). The strings are usually 28-32 cm long (from the upper to lower bridge) and ar played with a bow.

It is interesting to note that the lyra’s tuning keys are still referred to by the ancient Greek words “koupalin”, “kollops”, and “kollavos”. The lower bridge, the “ghaidhiaron” or “ghaidour”, is narrow, very slightly convex and extremely small in comparison with that of the pear-shaped lyra. In the past, the two higher-tuned strings (the “zill” and the “mesaia”) were made of silk and the third, or lower-tuned, (hamba) from gut. These days the strings are usually metallic (“telia”) or else two are metallic and one of gut. The bow, around 50-55 cm long, is made of hard wood and is convex in shape. In the past it also had horse-tail hairs attached to it. Today many musicians use a violin bow. When the musician is seated, he rests the lyra on his left thigh, or else between his legs which are held together. The lyra is held leaning slightly forward; to the left. When the musician plays standing up, he supports the instrument with the thumb and forefinger of his left hand resting on the head of the instrument.

The Pontic lyra is tuned in 4ths while the strings are pressed with the flat of the fingers, as with the violin and not with the fingernail as with the pear-shaped lyras. When the musician is playing the melody, he often presses down the second string along with the first. The bow is also used thus, so that two strings are being played at the same time. Therefore, the Pontic lyra can be played in the following ways: a) the melody is played on the first string, the second string playing an accompaniment with a drone: b) the melody is played on both strings, with variations of 4ths; c) the melody is played on the second string and accompanied by the fist string with a drone. With the exception of (c), which is encountered only rarely, both other methods are frequently used, according to the preference of the musician.

Another interesting technique is the use of ornamentation on almost every major note. The musician plays standing up, usually moving in time with the dancers steps and calling out to the dancers.

The Pontic lyra is usually played solo and is an “indoor” instrument. However, when played at celebrations and open-air festivals where its relatively weak sound cannot easily be heard, two or three are usually played together, sometimes even more. For the same reason it is often accompanied by daouli, zournas or tsambouna in different combinations.


(Κωνσταντινούπολης, Κρήτης, Πόντου)


Α. Πολίτικη λύρα

Σουίτα Μικρασιατικών χορών

Ταξίμι “χιτζάζ” – Ζεϊμπέκικος

Συρτό Αζιζιέ – Καρσιλαμάς

Ταξίμι “κιουρντιλί χτιζαζκιάρ”

Ζεϊμπέκικος “Όπου δείς δυο κυπαρίσσια”

Β. Κρητική λύρα

Συρτά ροδινού

Ρεθεμιώτικη σούστα

Σταφιδιανός σκοπός

Μυλοποταμικές κοντυλιές και γρήγορο πεντοζάλη

Καστρινός πηδηχτός χορός

Γ. Λύρα Πόντου







Πυρρίχιος – Σέρα

Lyra BANDEJA Lyra PORTADA Lyra - 01  CUBIERTAS  24 Lyra - 03  repertório Lyra - 05 Lyra - 07  kritikí lýra Lyra - 09 Lyra - 11  polítiki lýra Lyra - 13  lýra póntou í kementzés Lyra - 15  (english) Lyra - 17 Lyra - 19 Lyra - 21 Lyra - 23 Lyra - BANDEJA Lyra - BANDEJA interior Lyra - CAJA Lyra - CAJA interior Lyra - DISCO Lyra - HOJA Lyra - HOJA interior Lyra - PORTADA