The Pontic lyra in contemporary Greece

Tsahourides, Matthaios. 2007. The Pontic lyra in contemporary Greece. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis examines the performance techniques for playing the Politic lyra, a vertically-held bottle-shaped bowed lute which is the main instrument of the Poetic Greeks. The objectives of the research were to identify the ways in which the traditional performance techniques for the Lyra have been extended in the past, especially in the work of Gogos Petrides, and to explore the possibilities of extending these further in order to enable the lyra player to effectively perform styles and repertoires from outside Greece, with particular reference to the music of Afghanistan.

A detailed discussion of changes in performance practices required the use of a broad range of contextualising material, enabling the author to position his work in the context of modern Greece. The thesis begins with a historical overview and provides background information about the culture and history of the Pontic settlements on the Black Sea coast of what is modern Turkey, up to the population exchanges of 1922. It provides a detailed organological study of the instrument and looks into its history, concluding it has a European/Byzantine rather than a Middle Eastern origin. The author also discusses the traditional and the contemporary performance techniques of the Pontic Lyra and describes his own experience as both performer and ethnographer during extended periods of fieldwork. The DVD and CD included in the thesis are of major importance as they provide a key role in demonstrating and illustrating the author's core research methods, findings and outcomes. The author's work was `mirrored' in an unassessed recital given at the end of the research.

Chapter 1 provides a historical overview of the culture of the Pontic Greeks. Chapter 2 describes the morphology of the Pontic lyra and discusses its origins. Chapter 3 discusses the traditional and the contemporary performance techniques for the lyra; the author also describes his own learning experience within the context of a musical family. Chapter 4 considers three traditional genres of lyra music, the extended techniques attributed to Gogos Petrides, which have been further developed by the author. Chapter 5 recounts fieldwork carried out in Greece with six well-established Pontic musicians, who have much to say about the influence of Gogos Petrides. Chapter 6 explains how, through making a study of Afghan music as played on the dutar and rubab, the has adapted pre-existing and devised new techniques for playing the Afghan repertoire on the Pontic lyra. Chapter 7 summarises the research carried out, while an Appendix describes the preparations made for the recital which is part of the examination process. This thesis is accompanied by a CD and a DVD illustrating aspects of the research.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Politic lyra, Gogos Petrides, performance practices, Pontic Greeks

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Date Deposited:

12 Jun 2020 13:36

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 14:30


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