The cretan music association of the Chania County “Charchalis” was founded in 1976 by the county’s folk artists, with the goal of preserving the musical tradition of Crete, the salvaging and the evolution of our folk heritage.
During its 30-year course, it has offered the chance to any interested party to learn our island’s original music tradition. The association also has released a rich discography, publishing a series of discs with historical recordings, so that the young people will be able to listen to the old, original performances of great artists. The association is affiliated with the University of Athens and with well-known musicologists regarding topics that relate to the local music tradition. It houses a community room that is also a museum of photographs and musical instruments in GRIGORIOU E. 26 street in Chania, where the local artists can share opinions and give prominence to our original music tradition.
Charidimos was taught the tampachaniotika songs by his uncle, Nikolaos Kourkoumelakis or “Kourkoumelis” (1903-1986), from Kato Souda, a famous bulgari player of his time, who became well-known for his devotion to the art and his passion for performing these songs, which he also called “gyrogialitika”. The songs were not only sung by groups of friends, but also in taverns, coffee houses, and “ntampades”, ontades where the patrons of the “chain” would stay. At the time they were considered low-quality songs, as they would reflect the everyday pains and woes of the life at the harbor.
The tampachaniotika songs were sung and played by Charidimos using bouzouki and lute in a sweet melody. His wife, Fofo (born in 1932), would give beautiful performances of the songs, fitting of the style of that era.
According to the testimony of Charidimos Kourkoumelakis, the bulgari players from Kato Souda were; Chatzinas (the first teacher according to Charidimos), Vlachos Nikolis or “Vlachonikolis”, Volakas, and of course his uncle, Koukroumelis.
He came from Asia Minor to Chania when he was only 3 years old. The tampachaniotika songs were very popular in the city of Chania, and were performed by all the old artists in Chania and the surrounding areas, such as Tampakaria, Kato Souda, Nerokourou, Tsikalaria, Chalepa, Nea Chora, etc, using various instruments, but mostly the bulgari. They were performed in coffee houses, taverns, and hookah bars which saw a rise in numbers during the Occupation, since the Germans would allow free smoking, which would attract black-market dealers and smugglers. They would perform with various instruments, but mostly with bouzouki, baglama, and less with bulgari. He remembers old bulgari players, such as Kostas Vernadakis, Protogeris, Kotzamanis, Vlachos, and Kourkoumelis, as well as sandouri players, such as Antonis Papamarkakis or “Tsesme”, Alekos Dachtylas, and Chantzigiorgis, people that he worked with during that time at an establishment. According to him, most of the sanduri players were disciples of Loukas Mpertos.
The tampachaniotika songs were also performed by Koufianos and Naftis’ father. He also says that in 1936 the city of Chania welcomed the “Foursome of Piraeus” (Markos Vamvakaris, Stratos Pagioumtzis, Georgios Mpatis, and Artemis Delias) who performed in Splantzia. This inspired him greatly, and decided to acquire his own bouzouki, since up to that point he would play with the instruments of Mastorakis and Kasiotis. He also says that before Markos came to Chania they would mostly perform the tampachaniotika songs. Then many others started playing the bouzouki.
“Someone owned a coffee house at the stairs of the Market, named “Protogeris”, who would play the bulgari and he remembers wealth patrons from Rethymno that would come to hear him play for days on end. There was also the coffee house of Mountavris that was also a hookah bar.
Someone else from Vamvakopoulo performed the tampachaniotika songs using an outi, named “Prodromos”. There was later a company of Jews, one of them played the guitar, another the mandolin, and another the violin, who would perform many songs but the tampachaniotika as well. We started performing around that time, myself, Naftis, the Sapounides, Charidimos Kourkoumelis, Vasilodimitris, Giorgis the poor, and others, but we would play with a three-string bouzouki, as we performed the tampachaniotika songs, cretan songs, and rempetika songs. There were two coffee houses/hookah bars in Splantzia, the one of Mparmpa Manolis the Round and the one of Mountavris, and Trikoupis’ at Lentariana. The establishments we would perform at with Naftis were Lampathe’s at Mpolari, Marina’s at the harbor, and Trifonas’ in Nea Chora. I produced Katinaris, Vasilodimitris and many others. Giorgis the poor would play cretan songs using a bouzouki, but I can’t remember his last name.”
He also mentions Koutsourelis, Giorgis, Foustalieris, someone named “Periklis” from Pervolia on Chania, Rozakis, Tzimakis, and others.
Stelios Foustalieris says that in order to play, sing, and compose these songs, you need to feel pain, passion, and love for this kind of music. He says that his uncle, Antonis Chareklas, who he worked with and published records, he was the teacher that everyone studied under in Rethymno. He mentions Giorgos Agioutis, Vladimiros Ploumistakis, Giannis Armenis who played the outi.
Giannis Armenis, Chareklas, Michalis Arampatzoglou who played the santouri, and Foustalieris who played the boulgari, they had joined into a band and played the tampachaniotika songs, along with other songs. He also talks of two great bulgari instrument makers, Giannis Papadakis, and Georgios Polioudakis or “Chalilis” from Perovilia of Rethymno, who was also a bulgari player. He says that in Chania you could find “Stafidianos”, “Chtikiaris”, and “Charotsa” since the old days. He also talks about his influence from the “rempetes” when he went to Athens in 1933, since he published the “rempetika songs of Crete” when he returned, and became a solo player with an accompaniment of a guitar. He also says that there were two Cretan-Turks in Rethymno, Chasanis whi had a limp, and Giounis, both of which played the bulgari. Another bulgari player was Chanelakis, who was his mother’s brother.
There were many bulgari players in Rethymno, but few of them were great. Most of them were amateurs and played out of sync just for fun. Bulgari was primarily played in the urban centers of the counties of Chania and Rethymno. He also says that in Chania, other than the bulgari, the most popular instruments were the violin and the lute. In Rethymno they would play the mandolin, the bulgari, and the lyre. The lute found its way to Rethymno in 1930 by “Psylos”, and that is when it was discovered by Foustalieris. In Heraklion they would play the violin and the guitar, and in Lasithi they would play the violin, the guitar, and the ntaoulaki. He had many friends in Chania and he would often visit. He was friends with Koutsourelis, Naftis, Sarimanolis, and many others that were part of groups of friends. He also says, like all others, that these songs were not for dancing, and were played in groups of friends, in taverns, and in coffee houses.
Tzimakis remembers someone named “Karampetis” in Rethymno, Giorgis Agioutis who played the bulgari, Giannis Armenis who played the outi, Mpaxevanis, Foustalieris, Chareklas, Antonis Vogiatzis, Vladimiros Ploumistakis, but in his own words; “Foustalieris the Great was the best of them all”.
He also says that in Chania he learned a lot from the “amaxades”, the “tampakides”, from many others that used to sing those songs and from old musicians. Since the old days in Chania you could find “Stafidianos”, who came from Mexhmet Mpeis Stafidakis, “Chtikiaris”, “Charotsa”, “my Nene”, and many others.
In his own words; “These songs are difficult, complex, eerie, querulous, both in singing and in playing. In order to sing them properly you need to have the gift of the voice, to know how to perform vocal trills, stops, pauses, and to be deeply passionate about something. That is the secret, and it is best to love.”
Naftis says that “the first bulgari player that I met was Kostis Vernadakis, who was killed by the Germans in 1940. He was old, as he had served in the military in 1926. He was about the same age with Nikos Kourkoumelakis or Kourkoumelis, and Vlachos. Another old one was Droseros or Mpoulanteris from Drapania in Kissamos (1878-1949). Those were the great artists of the bulgari.
He also speaks of someone called “Dachtylas”, who would beautifully perform the tampachaniotika songs with a santouri, who lived in Splantzia and then went to Heraklion. Other players around the same time were Antonis Papamarkakis or “Tsesmes”, and Giorgis Chatzigeorgiou or “Chatzigiorgis” (1900-1987), who played the tampachaniotika using the santouri, but mostly songs from Asia Minor. These were the great ones, and after them came the younger ones; “myself, Sarimanolis, the Sapounides, the “Ftochaki”, Vasilodimitris, and others, but we performed the songs using a bouzouki.”
Other players were Nikolaos Katsoulakis or “Koufianos” (1877-1947), Giorgos Koutsourelis (1914-1994), Naftis’ father who played the violin (Vasilis Papadakis or “Kopanidis”, 1880-1949), and Charilaos Piperakis (1888-1978) who was the first to record the tampachaniotika songs in America. There were many singers, Theocharis Tzinevrakis, Giorgis Lorenztos, Tzimakis, Antonis Kontopyros, Grigoris Mathioudakis, and others. Naftis says that we owe a great debt of gratitude to Stelios Foustalierakis or “Foustalieris”, since without him bulgari would have been lost, both as an instrument and as a method of instrument playing, as well as many melodies from the tampachaniotika songs.
Foustalieris was the first one to publish these songs in a great variety, preserving old melodies, often using his own lyrics, while he also made many compositions of his own.
Stelios Lainakis was born in 1951 in the village of Kalathenes in Kissamos, in the county of Chania. He is an architectural engineer, married to Efi Koulovatou, father of two children. He became familiar with the cretan music from a young age at its source, Kissamos, since his father was a great singer and dancer of the cretan dances, among other things, a renowned reveler of his time. Nowadays, other than a collector and a researcher, Stelios Lainakia is an established expert in the solo way (mperdelidiko style) of playing the lute (having the dearly departed Georgios Koutsoulieris as a role model), and the bulgari (with Stelios Foustalierakis or Foustalieris as a role model). His performances include the Athens Concert Hall (2002 and 2012), the Bologna Municipal Theater, the Phoenix Theatre in Venice, and many other theatres in Italy, Germany, and France. He is in possession of an interesting collection of musical instruments from all around the world, as well as rare musical records and priceless recordings of old music.
He has worked with many of the greatest Cretan artists. His teachers, that influenced him the most, were Kostas Papadakis or “Naftis”, Charalampos Papoutsakis, Georgios Koutsourelis, Stelios Foustalierakis, Georgios Tzagarakis or “Tzimakis”, and Nikolaos Sarimanolis. Stelios Lainakis was involved in most of the discography published by Naftis, during 30 years of collaboration in music and research. He got the chance to meet and play music with Nikolaos Charchalis, Nikolaos Saridakis or “Mavros”, Michalis Androulakis, Lefogiannis, Michalis Kounelis, Fotis Katrakis, Stavros Kantilierakis, Michalis and Vaggelis Polychronakis, Manolis Manioudakis or “Manios”, Manolis and Vasilis Kartsonakis, Grigoris Mathioudakis, Stefanos Karefyllakis, Petros Karbadakis, and others. His acquaintance with Charidimos and Fofo Kourkoumelakis was of great importance, since they taught him unknown tampachaniotika songs.
He has researched and studied the roots of the cretan musical tradition, and he has collected unique audio records from Crete, as well as from the traditional music from the rest of Greece, and from all around the world. He has worked with acclaimed Greek and foreign musicologists, such as Georgios Amarianakis, Lampros Liavas, Georgios Papadakis, Nikos Dionysopoulos, Roberto Leydi, Tullia Magrini, and others. Part of this great research work is being presented in two books regarding the cretan music by the municipality of Milan in collaboration with the Drama School “Civica scuola d’ l Arte Drammatica di Milano”.
- Forme della musica vocale e strumentale (ricerca a Creta n.2) (1981)
- Μusica popolare a Creta (ricerca a Creta n.1) (1983)
Stelios Lainakis is a primary member, and for many years now president of the cretan music association “Charchalis”. He has participated both as a coordinator and a musician in musicology conventions about the traditional music, in cretan music and dancing festivals, and in events with the music association “Charchalis” in Greece and abroad, while he has appeared in many greek and foreign media.
He has showcased many types of music and songs, such as the tampachaniotika songs, and as the sole student of Foustalieris he has preserved and showcased the bulgari (in terms of ways of making the instrument and playing style). As a matter of fact, after Foustalieris the bulgari instrument would have been lost, if it wasn’t for Stelios Lainakis. He learned the secrets of making this special, urban, cretan string instrument from many old instrument makers, such as Giorgos Fraggedakis, and he taught younger instrument makers, one of which is his own son, Leonidas.
Stelios Lainakis has revised and joined in many important published musical records.
With the music association “Charchalis”:
- Enthymimata (in collaboration with Giorgos Papadakis)
-Tzimakis 75 years
-Stratis Galathianakis or “Galathianos”
-Performances from Polyrrinia (No-1 and No-2)
-Naftis: Musical Consignments (No-1 and No-2)
-Esiganepsan oi kairoi (published by the Hellenic Music Record)
-Hellenic Frontiersmen (Crete) (published by the Hellenic Music Record)
With the professors of the University of Bologna, R. Leydi and T. Magrini:
-The violin in Western Crete (Le Violon en Crete Occidentale, published by the french company “Silar”)
-Musica popolare di Creta
-Vocal music in Crete
In 2006 he was honored as a Pioneer for shaping the processes of the scientific approach of the Cretan Music from the Municipality of Petroupoli and the Cretan Association, and in 2011 he was honored by the Municipality of Ierapetra for his contribution in the Cretan Tradition.
The name “tampouras” is used for a line of instruments in the lute family. They are already known since the second millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia and in Egypt, they have a small soundhole, long neck, and they can be played using a pick or by hand.
We can also find tampouras style instruments in the hellenic area as well, since the ancient hellenic times, using the names “pantouris”, “pantoura”, or “three-stringed”. This instrument passed on to Byzantium under the name “thampoura” (instrument used by Digenis Akritas – a musician in byzantine times) and then became known as the “tampouras” in modern Greece (favourite instrument of General Makrigiannis, which is preserved in the National Historical Museum).
The subsequent tampouras, like the one we will learn about today, has a relatively small and pear-shaped soundhole, long neck over a meter in length, and usually double strings. Thanks to the long neck and the fets that can be moved, the tampouras offers the great variety of the musical spaces of the civic music. This is the reason why the tampouras is a mandatory instrument in the training of traditional music for students in musical high schools. The bulgari is a special type of a cretan tampouras.
The tampouras was played by many warriors of 1821, according to testimonies. Katsantonis, Rigas, and Kolokotronis were said to “have been bringing the tampouras along wherever they would go, and forget their woes with a song”. General Makrigiannis also played the tampouras. The tampouras instrument that is assumed to have belonged to him, is preserved in the National Historical Museum. It was restored by Nikos Fronimopoulos, who studied the initials of the intrument’s maker – which were carved on the tampouras – and discovered that Leonidas Laidas was the creator of the instrument. This specific tampouras instrument possesses a special historical value.