Greek Frame Drums
March 17-20, 2008
in Mesolóngi, Greece
Greek Frame Drums
They say location is
everything and I must say the GFDM 2008 had breathtaking
views everywhere you looked. This is the view of the mountain
that was directly behind Glyka
Apartments (the villa where we stayed). Every morning
mist rolled down off the top of this huge peak.
The view of the front
of the room where I stayed. Surrounded by such natural beauty
each day, one could not help but be inspired to do music.
All of the participants stayed here as well, and we bonded
rather quickly as a group of adventuring frame drummers.
Three guys from Spain arrived the first morning after having
spent the night in their car. Apparently, cell phone GPS
systems are not the most reliable source for locating prime
frame drumming locations!
The view of the mountain by mid-day
when the mist had been long burned off by the sun.
Mountains behind me and the sea in
front . . . literally. An added plus was a large quiet restaurant
less than a minute walk away.
Preparations for the evening fire
circle jam sessions complete with Oriental dance and tasty
food prepared by Glyka herself! Glyka is the owner of this
beautiful property and a published poet as well as a great
cook and now a lover of frame drumming and particularly
my overtone singing and hindewhu songs! This is the only
place I have been to where I received nightly requests for
The rooms - very comfortable, clean,
attractive, heat, AC, private bath/shower, kitchen, refrigerator.
This pic is off of the Glyka
Apartments website. My room was blue . . . but I wasn't!
Although I don't have any pics of it, I can't say enough
about the food. Each meal was a culinary delight and there
was always more than you could eat being offered. You won't
go hungry in Greece!
Gerasimos Siasos gave a workshop on
the Ipirotiko def. He compiled a very detailed book with
all the strokes and historical information on the Ipirotiko
def in Greece and gave a copy to each participant. His brother
now makes these drums in Greece for order.
Nikolaos Forlidas gave a workshop
on traditional Greek rhythms. The variety of odd meter patterns
in traditional Greek music is amazing. Nikolaos also compiled
a short booklet that was given to each participant with
all the rhythms notated and explained.
I was brought over to teach a large
variety of workshops on the major frame drumming styles,
which included modern bodhran, riqq, pandeiro, tamburello,
kanjira, and hand held frame drums such as tar, bendir,
and ghaval. I was surprised that conducting all the workshops
in English was not a problem but I came prepared with many
of my ideas about technique and rhythm on notated handouts
with plenty of material to last learning sessions well after
the event was over. This was a great opportunity to debut
material from my forthcoming frame drums method book (due
out this summer). 6 hours a day of workshops for several
days followed by a 45" solo concert was one of the
most unique experiences of my life. Simultaneously exhausting
We spent a day doing a clinic and
a small concert at the biggest school for traditional music
in Greece (Music School of Agrinio). Apparently, one can
study frame drums there, and they have been using my scores
as learning material for the last 6 years!
Impromptu accompaniment by Javier
Student ensemble performing at the
opening of the school concert. Their piece was all odd meters,
and they never lost it!
I was scheduled to perform with Greek
traditional musicians, which I had never done before and
could not turn down. Luckily, some of their music was notated
(some!). Great players!
Everyone is a musician at this school!
N. Scott Robinson solo concert complete
with candlelight! About 300 people came from the local town
who thunderously applauded my efforts despite their never
hearing this kind of music before. The rhythm is going to
I was so impressed by one of the school's
young riqq students that I invited him to join me in an
improvisation. He was nervous being only 14 or so but he
played great! Watch out for this guy (Mikhalus) in the future.
Concert finale - After playing a 45"
solo set and a 20" set of traditional Greek music with
saz and ney players, I asked some of the attendees to put
a little parting piece together since we had enjoyed each
other so much. One of the attendees was an Oriental dancer
from Denmark, Marianne Jakobsen, so we did a piece in 7
and it brought the house down.