Asia Minor (today´s Turkey) represented the center of culture, scholarship and arts for many centuries. It influenced countries from all over the world, both culturally and politically. At the time of its greatest boom, it enjoyed a period of great prosperity. Consequently, it became a target for conquerors coming from foreign nations and empires. Since the times of Byzantium, Konstantinopolis had been the center of national, religious and cultural and political life of Christian Greeks. It dictated and controlled all spiritual and political life all over Asia Minor.

Before 1922, the area of today´s Turkey was inhabited by approximately 2,845,000 Greeks, thus comprising about 20 % of Turkey´s population. Their influence on the economy of that time was considerable. After the end of WW1 Greece was officially granted the region of Smyrna at the Paris Peace Conference. However, the Turks´ refusal to acknowledge this official act led to the outbreak of a number of further battles and the subsequent defeat of the Greek Army. Their defeat resulted in a new treaty, the so-called Lausanne Peace Treaty, according to which about 1,500,000 Greeks had to leave their homes and move to Greece. The fugitives were seeking a better life and their goal was to reach big cities such as Athens, Pireas, Kaval, Solun and possibly Crete Island. Their arrival influenced Greek culture, society and especially music to a great extent. It gave rise to a music genre called Rebetiko.

Now let us return to the subject of Asia Minor. The cultural centers of Asia Minor were especially concentrated in big cities along the north-west coast. The cities formed regions which were characteristic of a specific music tradition. Unlike the area of mainland Greece, where bandit folk songs from rural areas prevailed, in the urban areas drunkard songs, emotive song and verse ballads predominated. Similarly, the difference can also be observed when comparing the folk dances of the two regions – the mainland Greece is dominated by tsámikos, syrtos syngathistos and other more difficult dances, while in Asia Minor people dance ballos, karsilamas, zeibekikos as well as different dances associated with port taverns and light entertainment.

From the perspective of musical science, the music of Asia Minor is modal, being based on the Byzantine musical tradition. It likewise develops the tradition under the Turkish rule and continues it outside the ecclesiastical background as well. The existing church and Byzantine modes are supplemented with Persian, Arabian and Turkish scales. Similarly to Turkish and Arabian music, they use microtones. Uneven rhythm is usually used, most frequently 9/8 (zeimbekikos, karsilamas) and 7/8 (kalamatiano). As for regular rhythms, the two most well-known ones are chasapikos and tsifteteli (beledi in Arabian). However, the influence of Arabian rhythms in the Greek Asia Minor music, appears as late as at the beginning of the 20th century.

The most frequently used musical instruments associated with this kind of music are the following:

  • politiki lyra (a stringed string instrument),
  • kanonaki (oriental zither),
  • kavali (flute) or clarinet,
  • santuri (small cimbalom),
  • uti or laouto politiko (lutes).

[1] DRAGOUMIS, Markos. I paradosiaki mas mousiki 2. Athény : Adeto, 2001. s. ISBN 978-090-130-56-32.
[2] ALONEFTOU, Eleni. Závěrečná práce: Seznámení s rebetikem. Pražská konzervatoř, Praha, 2010.
[3] DRAGOUNIS, Maximos. Blog – Maximos Dragounis [online]. 2010-03-22 [cit. 2011-08-24]. Maloázijskí Gréci, nositelia a šíritelia gréckej vzdelanosti. Available from WWW: <>  

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