Modern Laments in Northwestern Greece

Their Importance In Social And Musical Life And The “making” Of Oral Tradition

Having as a starting point a typical phrase -“all our songs once were laments”- repeated to the researcher during fieldwork, this study aims to explore the multiple ways in which lament practices become part of other musical practices in community life or change their functionalities and how they contribute to music making. Though the meaning of this typical phrase seems to be inexplicable, nonetheless as a general feeling it is shared by most of the people in the field. Starting from the Epirot instrumental ‘moiroloi’, extensive field research reveals that many vocal practices considered by former researchers to be imitations of instrumental musical practices, are in fact, definite lament vocal practices-cries, embodied and reformed in different ways in other musical contexts and serving in this way different social purposes. Furthermore, multiple functionalities of lament practices in social life reveal their transformations into songs and the ways they contribute to music making in oral tradition while at the same time confirming the flexibility of the border between lament and song established by previous researchers.

Journal Musicologist
Year 2017
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 95-140

Katsanevaki, Athena N. (2017) Modern Laments in Northwestern Greece: Their Importance In Social And Musical Life And The “making” Of Oral Tradition . In: Musicologist: International Journal of Music Studies, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp. 95-140. Available at



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