Skip to Main Content

International Music Resources by Country: Greece

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Panoramic photo of Santorini

Citation (1)

Map of Greece

Map of Greece

Citation (3)

Listen to Greek Music!

Folk Songs From Mainland Greece Vol. 1 Album Art

Bouzouki: The Sound of Greece Album Art

I Love Greece, Vol. 6: Music For Films Album Art

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-Greece

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music


Facts in Brief

Flag of Greece


Capital: Athens

Official language: Greek

Official name: Elliniki dimokratia (Hellenic Republic)

Area: 131,957 sq km

Current Population: 10,718,565

Climate: Hot, dry summers with mild, wet winters near the Mediterranean. Cooler in northern mountains.

Religions: Christianity

Citation (2)

Traditional Greek Music

Greek traditional music (dimotiki mousiki

Greek traditional music (dimotiki mousiki) consists of several autonomous regional styles with similarities that are apparent only at a second glance (the skopos principle, verse forms etc.). It includes the music both of minorities on the mainland (Vlachs, Albanians, Bulgarians, southern Slavs, and Roma) and of Greek communities outside the state of Greece itself, particularly in Italy, the USA, and Australia. 

The music of Greece divides into three major stylistic areas: the mainland, the islands, and Asia Minor. It can be further divided into urban and rural musics.  The emergence in the 20th century of a small pan-Greek repertory (the kritikospentozaliskalamatianostsamikos, and sirtos) was the result of media influence (radio, records) and the promotion of folklore for tourists. Another pan-Greek form is rebetika, arising from an urban sub-culture and developing between 1810 and 1955 into a taverna song and dance form. Folk terminology distinguishes between the secular singer, tragoudistis, and the Orthodox church singer, psaltis.

Traditionally, song and dance titles are formed in terms of a personal possession (e.g. skopos tou Georgiou, ‘tune of George’), denote function (e.g. tou gamou, ‘wedding song’), or involve place names and regional names (e.g. kalamatianos, a dance from Kalamata; pogonisios, a dance-song from Pogoni). Titles relating to content (e.g. zoumpouli, ‘hyacinth’) or quoting the opening line of the text are rare, and often derive from collectors. Songs with standard texts (ballads) are called stereotipika. Various ballad texts are frequently sung to the same melody (idiomelos).

The musicians themselves hardly think at all in terms of scales and chords, or if they do they describe them as maiore (‘major’) or minore (‘minor’). Folksongs employ syllabic lines of 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, and, very rarely, 13 syllables.

Read More About Greek Music Here!

Citation (4)

Composer Highlight: Theodorakis Mikis

Headshot of Theodorakis Mikis

Greek composer. As the son of a civil servant, he spent his childhood years in various Greek provincial towns. At 17 he gave his first concert in the town of Tripolis, presenting his composition Kassiani. After a demonstration against the Italian occupiers of Tripolis in 1943, he was arrested and tortured. After his release, he left for Athens, where he studied music at the Conservatory and was recruited into the resistance against the German occupation. During the Civil War that followed World War II, Theodorakis was active on the side of the Left. He was arrested and exiled, first on the island of Ikaria and later on Makronissos. He was severely tortured and barely escaped with his life, but it was on the notorious prison island that he began composing his first symphony.


Citation: Holst-Warhaft, G.  Theodorakis, Mikis. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 14 Sep. 2021, from


(1): "Panorama of The Four Bells and a Greek flag - Santorini" by "Jorge Láscar"

(2): Country Profile (Greece), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 31 August 2021 from


(4): Romanou, K., Mathiesen, T., Lingas, A., Maliaras, N., Chaldaiakis, A., Plemmenos, J., Bamichas, P., Kardamis, K., Kontossi, S., Economides, M., Tragaki, D., Tsagkarakis, I., Chardas, K., Seiragakis, M., Chianis, S., & Brandl, R.  Greece. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 13 Sep. 2021, from