Forgetful, I Am Truly Glad
Forgetful I am truly glad, but mindful I am saddened;
remembering those foreign lands, I want to set out for them.
– Get up, good mother, knead some dough, bake fresh rusks for my journey.
Aggrieved she pours the water in, she kneads with tears a-plenty;
with heavy heart she lights the fire to heat the baking oven.
– O oven, bide your time to heat, and you, o loaf, to finish;
just let the caravaneer go past, my son must then remain here.
Translated by John Leatham
Αλησμονώ και χαίρομαι
– Αλησμονώ και χαίρομαι, θυμιούμαι και λυπιούμαι,
θυμήθηκα την ξενιτιά και θέλω να πααίνω.
Σήκω μάνα μ’ και ζύμωσε καθάριο παξιμάδι.
Με πόνους βάζει το νερό, με δάκρυα το ζυμώνει
και με πολύ παράπονο βάζει φωτιά στο φούρνο.
– Άργησε φούρνε να καείς και συ ψωμί να γένεις
για να περάσει ο κερατζής1 κι ο γιος μου ν’ απομείνει.
1κερατζής (ή κυρατζής): οδηγός καραβανιού
A representative example of some unique polyphonic songs found in Greece. It is one of the most striking musical forms in the world repertoire of popular polyphonic songs.
These particular songs are located in the region of the present Greco-Albanian frontier (Pogoni. Deropolis, etc.) where till 1944 Greek and Albanian communities lived together.
They are performed by four to ten singers, unaccompanied on musical instruments, with a strict hierarchy respecting the role and technique of each voice. The koryphaios (coryphaeus or lead singer), called the partis-sikotis, opens the song. The second singer, the yuristis, responds, while isokrates (drones) ‘sustain the pedal’. To this group may be added a klostis who contributes falsetto vocalization weaving in and out of the song between the tonic and subtonic of the melody. Both the yuristis and the klostis abruptly cease the song on the subtonic, thus creating with the partis a sharp dissonance (with an interval of a second) which imparts a unique sound to this polyphony.
Though research work has not led to any certain conclusion, there is much evidence to convince one of the antiquity of these songs that retain the pentatonic anhemitonic scale. In addition, the influence of Byzantine ecclesiastical music has affected the melodic line of the yuristis and the isokrates. Lambros Liavas (1989)
(From the introductory text in the LP and CD Songs about greeks far from home)
Studio recording, 1989.