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The Project

[Translate to english:] Polyphonia


Polyphonia are a choir dedicated to the preservation of Greek songs in Berlin. Incorporating around 50 members, it has a 'worldy' demographic, with singers ranging from their early twenties to their late seventies! It was formed with support from the Greek Cultural Association 'Exantas'. The repertoire includes folk songs and art songs, such as from well-known Greek composers like Mikis Theodorakis.


Polyphonia perform around ten concerts per year - at street parties, cultural organizations, the Foreign Office and at the renowned Werkstatt der Kulturen der Welt (World Culture Workshop).  Twelve members of the choir took part in the World Music Album 'Heimatlieder', together with choir director Aris Meliadis.  Some of the older members of the choir grew up without a record player or even a radio. Thus keeping with the traditional, orally-learnt style passed on through generations, where the opportunity to listen to music would come only when the community sang together - with pots and pans suppyling th if need be, if nothing else was on hand! 

Polyphonia "Dho Sta Lianochourtaroudhia"

Polyphonia "Karavi Karavaki"

Although Karavi, Karavaki and Dho sta Lianochourtaroudhia are songs that are familiar to the older members of the choir, having been inherited from their childhood, they are still are part of the everyday life of the younger generation. There are dance songs in Greece that are performed at most events, but especially at village festivals such as the Panighiria. The exact origin of the song is unclear. It is likely that the lyrics underwent various changes over the years, while the traditional melody, tonality and rhythm remain unchanged, rooted in antiquity. The scale used in the song is now known to be Turkish-Arabic or Hicaz Hijaz. It is related to the chromatic scale and features the use of the tetrachord, which is a series of three smaller intervals that span the interval of a perfect fourth. This technique can be traced back to Aristoxenus (a pupil of Aristotle) and his music theories. The rhythm of many Greek songs have their origins in ancient prosody. The use of long, sustained notes are indeed ancient in origin, only being modified slightly today, to suit the taste of contemporary musicians. Within the numerous melismas, the small, quarter-tone steps vary, individually. In Greek folk songs there are few exceptions to these rules and thus there is a general consensus of structure.


Karavi, Karavaki

 Ship, little ship
You drive along the coast
Come out so I can see you

You have enchanted me
I'm crazy about you
Your sister has bewitched me

You make me crazy
With a red flag
And a golden cross,
Come out so I can see you

Come out, so i may convalesce
So I won't fall down and die
Come, so I may see you a little

So that my sorrow ceases
When you travel to the city
And to Agia Sophia
My sweet love

Come, come, when i tell you to
Don't torment me into weeping
Come come, my little grey partridge,

In the embraces are the intent.
Take on me
And set sail out to sea

Come out that I may see you
Come so that you are me and I am you
And I'll prepare a camp for our slumber

Come after me
That it may amuses you

The fishing boats
Have left the city at anchor
Like crispy-leaved basil

Your hair, braided
Have made ​​many great, made me
Your hair and your neck
I have called into action

 The Turkish girl they have seen
The Turkish girl they have seen
And sighed: "Ah Zamba, Why?"

Your little eyes so black
Full of sorrow and heat
You flutter your eyelashes
And I can not go on


Karavi, Karavaki (

Ship, Little Ship) is a song from Eastern Thrace and the eastern Aegean, probably from the island of Chios specifically. It's the love song of a sailor, who describes the longing for his beloved. She has bewitched him but he has to leave her behind in Istanbul. The song is in 7/8-time, the rhythm of the  folk dance Kalamatianos. The rhythm and intonation have a relationship to ancient Greek verse dactyl, the measurement of the Iliad of Homer - short / long / short.


Dho sta lianochourtaroudhia

Here in the bright mea-
oh my oh my!
Here in the bright meadow
Here in the bright meadow
A great dance will take place

What a great-
my oh my!
What a great dance will take place
What a great dane will take place
Like a border, lining up in order


Five little- oh my oh my!
Five little partridges flew
Five little partridges flew
Around the field they drew

five little partridges
theyflew around
the  field they drew

Around the field, oh my oh my!
Around the field they flew
Around the field they flew
And asketh they,  for us two

Who is the whi-
oh my oh my!
Who is the white one?
Who is the red one?

Who is the one
with the pretty-shaped brows?

Who is the white one? Who is the red one?

Who is the one
with the pretty-shaped brows?

 Dho sta Lianochourtaroudhia is an upbeat song in 6/8-time from the Evros region, in Eastern Thrace, bordering Turkey. The 6/8-time is a folk dance, Zonaradiko, named after the way in which the people in the dance circle hold on to each other by the belt (Greek: Manzoni).