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Review: Musical experiment - your views please

George Papavgeris 21 Dec 08 - 02:06 PM
olddude 21 Dec 08 - 02:10 PM
terrier 21 Dec 08 - 04:13 PM
olddude 21 Dec 08 - 06:11 PM
Leadfingers 21 Dec 08 - 08:23 PM
Suegorgeous 21 Dec 08 - 08:25 PM
Azizi 21 Dec 08 - 09:45 PM
George Papavgeris 21 Dec 08 - 11:07 PM
katlaughing 21 Dec 08 - 11:35 PM
George Papavgeris 22 Dec 08 - 03:35 AM
Chris Green 22 Dec 08 - 05:22 AM
G-Force 22 Dec 08 - 07:21 AM
Darowyn 22 Dec 08 - 12:03 PM
katlaughing 22 Dec 08 - 01:41 PM
Sugwash 22 Dec 08 - 01:51 PM
Suegorgeous 22 Dec 08 - 07:16 PM
katlaughing 22 Dec 08 - 07:19 PM
George Papavgeris 22 Dec 08 - 11:08 PM
Tangledwood 23 Dec 08 - 03:04 AM
George Papavgeris 23 Dec 08 - 04:08 AM
Bryn Pugh 23 Dec 08 - 06:58 AM
G-Force 23 Dec 08 - 09:39 AM
Spleen Cringe 23 Dec 08 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Dec 08 - 10:12 AM
George Papavgeris 23 Dec 08 - 10:21 AM
mauvepink 23 Dec 08 - 10:24 AM
Tangledwood 23 Dec 08 - 04:47 PM
Mrs Scarecrow 23 Dec 08 - 05:35 PM
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Subject: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 02:06 PM

I have attempted something many Greeks might consider sacrilegious - translating one of the most loved traditional songs of Crete - and I would love to have your honest opinion, warts and all, essentially: Does it work in translation? Is the tune and time signature too foreign?

The epic Cretan poem of Erotokritos, written in the early 17th century, has given rise to a number of typical Cretan traditional songs (Mantinades), each taking a different snippet from the story, all great favourites with the Greeks thanks to its beautiful imaginative use of colloquial Cretan dialect of the time. The Parting is the most famous of those, and I have been meaning to attempt a translation of it into English, but couldn't quite hack it. This week it came out, and you can listen to a rough arrangement/recording on George's MySpace page.

The story of Erotokritos is long and convoluted, not unlike that of Romeo and Juliette. The background to this particular snippet (the parting) is that Erotokritos (our hero), having been proved the bravest of the King's vassals, dares to send his old father to the King to ask for Aretousa's (the king's daughter) hand on his behalf. The king, insensed at this effrontery, exiles Erotokritos – and he is now taking his leave from Aretousa. The song is the conversation between them before he leaves.

Here is some info from Wikipedia about Vincenzo Cornaro, the author of Erotokritos:

Vitsentzos Kornaros or Vincenzo Cornaro (March 29, 1553 – 1613/1614) was a Cretan Greek poet of the Greek Renaissance who wrote the romantic epic poem Erotokritos. He was the leading figure of the Cretan Renaissance.

Not many biographical sources exist about Kornaros himself apart from the last verses of Erotokritos. It is believed that he was born to a wealthy family in Sitia, in 1553, and lived there roughly up to 1590. He then moved to Candia (present Iraklion), where his marriage to Marietta Zeno took place. Together they had two daughters named Helen and Katerina.

In 1591 Kornaros became an administrator, and during the outbreak of plague from 1591 to 1593 he worked as a sanitary supervisor. He showed interest in literature and was a member of a literary group called Academy of Strange, which was founded by his brother and fellow writer Andreas Kornaros.

He died in Candia, in 1613 (or 1614) and was buried at the church of San Francesco. The cause of his death remains unknown.

Erotokritos consists of 10,012 fifteen-syllable rhymed verses. The story takes place in Athens with King Herakles lives with his wife Artemis and their very beautiful daughter Aretousa, with whom the handsome and brave young man Erotokritos, son of the king's advisor Pezostratos, has fallen in love. After many difficulties and trials, the couple is married amidst celebrations and magnificent contests.

The world of this work is the ideal Greek world of friendship, pure feelings, authentic Greek traditions. It is the world of the beauty of Athens and Crete which is "the throne of virtue and the river of wisdom." The language is authentic Greek and Cretan, a synthesis and conscious effort of the poet to express lofty human feelings and values with simplicity, directness and truth.

Erotokritos has been characterized as a masterpiece of the Greek language which unites the magic of myth and a deep understanding of everyday life. It expresses the "threefold ideal which is bravery, beauty and wisdom." A work rooted deeply in authentic Greek traditions, humanity, true feeling and pure love for life and freedom.


Please fire at will...


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: olddude
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 02:10 PM

George

It is absolutely without a doubt beautiful ...

I love it ... it is an amazing piece of work and one that you should be very proud of ...

I will wear it out for sure listening to it again and again


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: terrier
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 04:13 PM

I'll second that, very listenable to, it makes an excellent song.


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: olddude
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 06:11 PM

Listened again George
all of your music is amazing
wow


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 08:23 PM

George - NOT on my list of songs to steal by a long chalk , but that doesnt mean I woulldnt listen to it - in fact its 'Orribly Average !
You've bloody well done it again !! To use my favourite Barkerism , "Sparky Lad - Shit Hot"


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 08:25 PM

George - it's lovely! on first hearing you've done a fantastic job with the translation, you have a great facility with both the English language and the evident poetry of the original.

Is that the original tune? not sure what you mean by too "foreign" - surely it makes sense for it to sound Greek? which it does. And to me it also has a bit of an English medieval quality to it.

Can't wait to hear the non-rough version! :)


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Azizi
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 09:45 PM

George, I agree with all the other commentors. I think that you have a great song here.

I don't know what Greek music sounds like, but if some of it sounds like Erotokritos, than I've got to listen to more Greek music. But I agree with Suegorgeous that the tune sounds like what I think medieval English tunes sound like.

Fwiw, I had to use more sharp listening skills than I usually do because of your accent, but I like accents so that was cool.

If that's the rough version, the actual version is going to be a winner!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 11:07 PM

Thanks folks. Yes, the tune is the original traditional one. Greek music varies by region just as much (and in some ways more) than British traditional music. Crete was heavily under Venetian and Genoan influence in the middle ages, for example, and that shows a little. While Macedonian traditional music (referring here to the Greek part of Macedonia, i.e. the North/North West, where I come from) is clearly Balkan in style. And so on.

The translation is as much line-by-line as I can make it, and I am using all the original imagery (the tree you planted in my heart burning - nothing else can grow there - painting your face with my heart's blood - etc etc). It is impossible to convey the beauty of the original language, unfortunately, which is colloquial but quirky, not as strange as Chaucerian English in words, but somehow stranger because of the unusual use of common words.

Talking of imagery, the whole 2nd book is devoted to some jousting games the King organised (where Erotokritos is the final winner of course), with some 30+ jousts described in painstaking detail. Jousting in Greece? I hear you say. Well, yes, in Crete certainly; it must have got there via the Italian influence.

I am asking a whole bunch of Greeks to review it too, fearful that I might be creating an abomination, but so far so good.

Perhaps when I retire, I might translate the whole 5 books of it. I calculate it would take me 2 years...


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Dec 08 - 11:35 PM

Two years well-spent, it would be, imo. I LOVE this, George. I've always loved Greek tonalities and to actually be able to understand the lyrics makes it even better. It is absolutely beautiful and well-done!!! Thanks so much for sharing with us. I have a friend in WY who is of Greek heritage, a cantor and a scholar. I will be sharing this with her. In fact if I thought she'd still be up tonight, I'd call her and play it down the phone line. I am excited for her to hear it!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 03:35 AM

Something about the time signature: It's a mix of 9/8 and 4/4, while the verse itself consists of an 8-syllable half-line followed by a 7-syllable half-line. To marry the two, there is a single pause after each half-line, so 8+pause, 7+pause totalling 17/8 (or 9/8 + 4/4). It makes for a "skippy" rhythm that some people might find hard to follow, hence my fears of "strangeness" to western ears.

Normally it would be played on a Cretan lyre (3-string vertically bowed instrument, a little smaller than a fiddle) with lute accompaniment. I play neither, so my arrangement for now includes 12-string guitar with a 6-string guitar in the role of the lute.

Vicki Swan doesn't know it yet, but I have visions of the nyckelharpa taking up the part of the lyre...


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Chris Green
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 05:22 AM

George - it's superb. Can you hurry up and translate the rest of it - I want to know what happens next?!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: G-Force
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 07:21 AM

" ... the unusual use of common words."

George, I don't know if you realise it, but that is also one of the things which makes you (as a Greek writing in English) a distinctive songwriter.


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Darowyn
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 12:03 PM

Many congratulations on your translation. I really do think you have got the language right. The vocabulary is very plain, with no artificial archaicisms, and that allows the exceptional imagery to come through in a very direct way.
It's a superb job.
I do have a criticism though- there are five seconds of silence at the end of the track.
O.K I'm very picky about technical aspects of recordings, and I can't fault anything else on any of your MySpace songs.
Consider me a fan.
I would like to hear the same passage of Erotokritos sung in Greek as well though.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 01:41 PM

I meant to say I loved the rhythms, too! Thanks for posting the particulars. Would also love to hear it in Greek, BUT Love that you have shared it in English. That is no mean feat, I know! COngratulations!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Sugwash
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 01:51 PM

Wonderful, very well done sir. My first impression was that it could be an English/Scottish border ballad. Not the time signature, (although that didn't strike me as too far from some interpretations of border ballads), but the sentiments expressed. That's just a personal view, I'm no expert on border ballads. As a song though it works very well. Bravo!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 07:16 PM

Maybe if and when you get to do the non-rough recording and also perform it - you could first sing a bit of the Greek? to give us a flavour.... then launch into the English.


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: katlaughing
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 07:19 PM

Here's what my friend in WY said, George: I liked it a lot and thought the instrumental music sounded Greek and the singing sounded Celtic, beautiful.


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Dec 08 - 11:08 PM

Good idea Suegorgeous, I could start with the opening verse in Greek.
G-Force, Darowyn, katlaughing et al, thank you for your kind words. Darowyn, you're right about the extra silence at the end, this is a VERY rough recording, I didn't bother editing it!

Celtic singing - now I think of it, I was semi-consciously introducing a western approach to the singing, to make it easier to assimilate. The original Cretan manner of singing is much more ornamented.

At risk of exposing my inadequacies, here are some "proper" Greek versions: First the Spiridakis brothers, where you can see the Cretan lyre and lute used (the words are from a different passage of the poem here). Then, the definitive version of The Parting - for my money - by the now sadly dead Nikos Xylouris.


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Tangledwood
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 03:04 AM

George, since you've spent a bit of time down here in Oz I know you'll understand if I say "bloody rippa mate!"
Yes, the translated story works and is wonderful, as is the music. It sounds foreign, but that adds to the imagery. I think we have all been exposed to enough "world music" to appreciate it rather than for it to be off-putting.

I hope your Greek friends continue to give it the thumbs up. A classic story deserves to be shared with as many as possible without the handicap of language differences.

I'm not too familiar with the Adobe player - is it possible to save the file to my hard drive? My slow internet connection doesn't do justice to the recording and the usual right click doesn't give the save option.


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 04:08 AM

Tangledwood, I have now allowed downloading of the song from MySpace. I will also PM you another address from where you can download it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 06:58 AM

Brilliant. More, please - congratulations. "Yah soo [phonetic !] "

Kind regards, Bryn


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: G-Force
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 09:39 AM

I have now managed to play the track too. I definitely think George has got himself a retirement project!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 09:51 AM

Fantastic stuff! I think there's a very good argument for a whole album of this... the sound is almost psychedelic - in a good way - and with beautiful words. Good Man!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 10:12 AM

That's a real achievement, George. Expressing the poet's thoughts while maintaining rhythm and rhyme in English is remarkable.

I have only one small criticism. The rhyme 'humble and crumble' near the beginning is too Germanic for my ears. I can lose sight of the language difference most of the time, but 'crumble' is simply too Germanic (I looked it up and verified this) to fit the rest of the song.

I love the melody and the unusual rhythm. I also love the thought of her 'planting a tree in his heart.'

Congratulations on the fine project!


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 10:21 AM

Did I not mention the Germanic influence in Cretan traditon?
I AM joking of course... :-)
Although I do believe that the typical Germanic trick of reserving waterside space by spreading one's towel out in the early morning was first exhibited on Crete (really!).

I'll work on that, leeneia, thanks for the tip. I could go for "lowly" and "a-word-of-some-sort-ending-in-owly"...


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: mauvepink
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 10:24 AM

I am certainly not surprised what a wonderful job you have done with this, given your musicality and abilities to interpret moments, emotions and the injection of great feeling.

You been and gone and done it again George! :-)

My hope is that your fellow countrymen will also see it

mp


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Tangledwood
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 04:47 PM

"Tangledwood, I have now allowed downloading of the song from MySpace. I will also PM you another address from where you can download it. "

Thank you very much indeed George, much appreciated.

Mal


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Subject: RE: Review: Musical experiment - your views please
From: Mrs Scarecrow
Date: 23 Dec 08 - 05:35 PM

I like it very much the rhythm is pleasantly unusual but I dont think too foriegn at all. The words are lovely


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