Ο τοπικός πολιτισμός της περιοχής των Τζουμέρκων
Υπόμνημα:

Narrative by Pia Vasiliou of Matsouki, Musician

I needed a teacher. So I found one here in Ioannina, in 1961-1962 or somewhere around there. The teacher’s name was Petrakis Charalambous and was from the Hieromnemon settlement of Thesprotia. He knew a friend of mine. I liked the clarinet. At the time the clarinet was quite in demand because not many people knew how to play it. I remember I came out here in the square to play as an apprentice with no musical backups. When people listened to the clarinet playing in the square they gathered. They really wanted to listen to the clarinet because there weren’t any recording devices or any other such means. Perhaps there was a gramophone but an old one – one of those gramophones with a funnel.

In the beginning the teacher taught me a few things. He taught me the notes and that lasted for about a month. It was a little difficult because you can’t learn right away. Next he taught me 5-10 songs from Epirus as well as what we call τσάμικα (tsamika) and συρτά (syrta). These were a few basics so I could make a start. I started with these basic songs and after that my acoustic ear allowed me to learn even more. Afterwards we’d sit with other students and rehearse, teaching one another as we played. We had a permanent troupe here. Our troupe lasted here for almost 40 years. Two brothers played together. One played the violin and the other played the accordion. Someone else played the guitar. The one who played the guitar was the brothers’ cousin. The one who played the violin was Dimitris Tsantoulis and his brother was called Vasilis Tsantoulis. The cousin who played the guitar was also called Dimitris Tsantoulis.

The festivals then were very difficult. Of course back then they were small, nothing like today. In the early days there weren’t any equipment. We’d go down to the square and play. Back then people’s ears were clean. You’d hear the clarinet playing in the square right over there and people would say “what’s going on over there?” You’d also hear the lute, it was familiar then. You know people weren’t accustomed to very many instruments. We played for 2-3 years with no aids or equipment. After that we decided to get a generator because we didn’t even have electricity over here. Electric power only came here in 1984. Back then festivals took place in the early evenings. People came down to the square just below. Everyone did. They danced in lines, women at the front and men at the back. That’s how people danced in almost all the villages back then. We played for about 2-3 hours in the square and in the late evenings we’d go out. A few people gathered because there were no means of getting there, there were no chairs, there was nothing. They’d sit on benches. Of course, weddings were very different.

On Thursday night they’d make the sourdough loaves. On Saturday we’d grab the instruments. On Saturday between maybe three and four o’clock we’d play music as they slaughtered the lambs. Five to ten sheep was the average for every wedding. There we’d play a solo. They’d finish with the sheep and then we’d go and get the βλάμη (vlami) i.e. the groom’s family. We’d bring the vlami (βλάμη) home. Then we played the μαντινάδα (mantinada) on the streets. We played street after street. After round two we’d go and get the Godfather. Then we’d go to the bride’s house and gather her dowry. All this was done while the clarinet was playing. The women would pack the dowry in bundles and the younger ones would mostly carry them and take them to the groom’s house. Once we’d gather everyone there, we’d rest a little in the evening maybe half an hour or so and then began the celebration. Usually on the Saturday we didn’t play all night long, maybe until 2 or 3 in the morning. This was because on Sunday it started all over again. Once the church ceremony finished at 10.30-11.00 in the morning we’d set off again to get the vlami (βλάμη) and then the Godfather once more. By that point it was noon. At noon they’d be preparing to shave the groom again and they’d play him a song. Once the groom was ready, around 1 or 2 o’clock in the afternoon we’d set off for the square down below, which is where the old Church was before it crumbled in the earthquake of 67. The church just above was built in 1992.

We’d set off to the main square. This is where the wedding ceremony took place. Once the ceremony ended guests would dance in the main square until dark. Families, from both the bride and groom, danced. So all the relatives of the bride and groom would get onto the dance floor and we’d finish playing by evening time. Afterwards, we’d follow them with our clarinets to the groom’s house and there we’d play until morning hours. At midnight they’d serve the meat they had prepared earlier. It was either baked or boiled depending on the family’s means. We always had ewe. In the earlier days we’d cook the meat with a little pasta because many children gathered at the wedding. They’d want to eat but were never satiated. And so they’d make pasta to make sure there was enough for everyone. We had a custom here where almost the entire village went to the wedding. That custom carries on even today. Only now weddings no longer take place in homes. They happen in the main square because the resources exist. We’d celebrate until Monday morning. Sometimes we’d even last till noon.