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Friday, November 25, 2016

When the Greek folk guitar becomes the protagonist of the Rebetiko stage

The power of Rebetiko is so great that when you come in contact with it  there is no way you can escape!




The next guest of  the"Memories of the innocent age" is an accomplished musician, an experienced music teacher, composer, author and researcher, he has collaborated with the majority of Greek artists (composers, musicians, performers), with unique adaptations/covers of  old rebetika songs, classified in the top 10 of the world's music charts.

But above all, Dimitris Mystakidis (https://www.dimitrismystakidis.gr/) is a talented musician, who converts in his hands the folk guitar, from an accompaniment instrument  to a soloists,  from a walk-on role to a protagonist, from a dry and an ordinary timbre complexion, to a bright and uniquely melodic.
Yes, Dimitris Mystakidis has this unique charisma, altering any string musical instrument he touches, to a treasure of sound nuances and rhythms

Memories
- Mr Mystakidis eventually Greek folk guitar is mistakenly the accompaniment instrument ?, the walkon role of the Rebetiko stage?

D. Mystakidis
I think people have misunderstood a bit all of my recent work.
The most important and most essential role of the guitar in a Rebetiko orchestra was, and will be as an accompanying instrument. In any case this role doesn't make the guitar  a walk-on role. To create every-time  the harmonic canvas on which the dominant, soloist instruments will "paint",  is not at all an easy task and certainly doesn't lack importance. This is well known from all the musicians. I, using the folk guitar in all roles and in a slightly different way than what it has been until now, wanted to show the importance of this musical instrument primarily to the audience. I wanted to show that this musical instrument can do everything, it is autonomous and has its own technique and repertoire.

Memories
- Why Dimitris Mystakidis chose to be involved with the Rebetiko with such passion ? What was the reason that the old Rebetiko captivated him more than any other music genre?

D. Mystakidis
Rebetiko is the music I grew up with. It is my childhood experience. It was natural for me to never abandon this music genre,  even though I have experimented and worked with many other music genres. It is also the fact that the power of Rebetiko is so great, when you come in contact with it  there is no way you can escape. 

Memories
- From what stages the young musician Mystakidis passed, and how long lasted his journey  until he discovered the magical treasure of the Rebetiko? For example did the young Dimitris pass through  rock, jazz, classic music?

D. Mystakidis
Except from the classical music, I spent in one way or another substantial time with all the genres mentioned above. Rock was the first orchestra I played when I was still a young boy. My studies in  modern conservatory were on electric bass. I played also in a lot of "bouzouki night-clubs". At folklore festivals. And of course many years in what we call "έντεχνη σκηνή", But always in a parallel way I was somehow involved with the Rebetiko.

Memories
- The Rebetiko / folk scene evolves nowadays? Are Rebetika songs being written today?or Rebetiko cant been reproduced ?

D. Mystakidis
I think that the "key players" of Rebetiko, the musicians and listeners, are currently at the best point. Access to information is very easy nowadays, and the aesthetic and technical level of the musicians has greatly risen. Respectively the audience welcomes the Rebetiko music with much more respect.

Today some musicians and  lyricists write very good songs, which have the specifications and capability to become folk songs . But  only time will tell. In my personal opinion it is a long process the classification of a song in the "folk-songs" category. And I use the word "folk-songs"  because Rebetiko in my opinion can not be reproduced once again. They may be songs that resemble Rembetika.

Memories 
- The position of the Greek Government-State  in relation to the folk music, the Rebetiko and the musical instruments which represent it?

D. Mystakidis
The position of the State in terms of folk music is from absent  to ridiculous. Really, now I believe that the non-recognition of these musical instruments  by the Government only may be due to stupidity and ignorance. No other reason can exist. There is all the necessary knowledge that can support the inclusion of such folk musical instruments in a graduated educational music environment. And substantial arguments against anyone who believes otherwise.



Memories
- The interventions and orchestrations on the old Rembetika songs was an internal natural investigation of the musician Mystakidi , which eventually came to the surface, or  the influences of other music genres pushed the musician  Mystakidi to experiment with the Rebetiko?

D. Mystakidis
I spent many years just playing this kind of music. At some point, especially when I realized the great value of this kind of music as raw material, I decided to work more creatively with it. This of course I think happens with any musicians at some point . The need for creation in general is unsurpassed, and as much as  you suppress it due to conditions, will eventually come out.

Memories
- The audience returns  back to the Rebetika and the folk music of the 1930s- 1960s
- What do you think is the reason for such a turn?

D. Mystakidis
After the great crisis we all experienced during the last eight years in Greece, I think we understood that what glitters is not gold. And we turned back to real and unquestionable values. One of them (values) is definitely the folk song. We have a long way until we "clean" our  mind and our judgment, after all the junk been loaded on us for the last 30 years,  but we are in a very good way.

Memories
- I have heard you playing the bouzouki
- You are probably one of the few distinguished musicians who plays the guitar with a clean "Guitarist way" and the bouzouki with purely "bouzouki attitude" 
- How can you achieve this separation?

D. Mystakidis
I am involved a lot with both musical instruments. The musical instruments are not something  un-achievable  that require tremendous skills. Instruments been made by people to be played by people. All they (musical instruments) need is time. And I've given a lot of my time on them.



Memories
- The bouzouki instrument  is a virtuoso instrument, the  front man in the band, flamboyant in some way
- On the other hand, the guitar is an accompanying instrument, "secondary", "low-key"  instrument
- Do these opposed characteristics of the two musical instruments,  reflect also to the character and temperament of their professional players?
- Does the musical instrument affects the temperament of its player and vice versa?

D. Mystakidis
Usually yes. The vanity is a key feature of artists and this is the reason most of them choose a  soloist instrument.
However, the relationship between the musical instrument and the musician is bidirectional. The musical instrument affects the player but also the player can affect the musical instrument  The second is much more rare, but when it happens it's simply magic.

Memories
-As a professor in the Department of Traditional Music for many  many years, you come into constant contact with the young musician who are thirsty to discover in depth the musical traditional roots of our country.
What is the advice you give to the young musicians, and what you believe is the reason that even if we live in such a technological age ,an increase in the urge of  turning back to tradition is being indicated?

D. Mystakidis
My advice to all children is one and only: To follow their dream as difficult as may it seems. To be involved with things that carry purity and value, first for the community and the society  and then for themselves. Music is one of them.

Memories 
-You have collaborated  with almost all famous musicians of Greece
Specifically however, when you are working with Nikos Tatasopoulos (bouzouki soloist), seems to my ears as a dynamically  bilateral flow of musical concerns and experiences, with a superior outcome of sounds and harmony
I call you the  "Dream Team" of Rebetiko
What do you think is the reason (or the conditions) that such a collaboration of two musicians on the musical stage,  concludes in such a perfect outcome ?

D. Mystakidis
I think it is the mutual appreciation and respect which creates the conditions for a good show on stage. From the other hand  Nikos Tatasopoulos  is such a great player who liberates your hands. You can do anything you want as you like it, when you are playing with Nick.




Memories  
What are your plans for the 2017?

D. Mystakidis
At the moment I am working in the studio with two different records :
 One has to do with the technique "tsimpitis" -"pinch- guitar and I am also recording songs of Katsaros - Dusa - Kosti and others.
The other one is affiliated again with Rebetika covers but  this time I modify them greatly. In fact only the melody of the voice remains the same. 
Of course the show "Esperanto" is on tour  and will continue as long as we can. Some books are  in my future plans also... Above everything good  health and everything can be accomplished 

Memories
Thank you  for the honor
Sincerely

Dimitris Mystakidis | TEDxAthens
Dimitris Mystakidis performing two Greek songs, in a unique and special way, with his guitar: Ego Thelo Prigkipessa" and "Vouno me to Vouno"


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The beauty of the Sicilian mandolino-bouzouko

And the tortoise pick guard from an old unplayable mandolin !

The luthier, Giannis Tsoulogiannis, sent me today a photo from the unique mandolino-bouzouko project after restoring the outer binding, and adding the missing natural sea-shell pieces.

The beauty of this exceptional mandolin starts to finally be revealed!

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Giannis also found a very old unplayable mandolin, and extracted its tortoise pick-guard which he will use to match exactly the color and quality of the missing tortoise material used around the unique sound-hole of the Sicilian mandolino-bouzouko.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The birth of a small masterpiece

The completion of a sanctified Byzantine icon!

The talented  hagiographer, Eva Miskou Varela ( eva.miskou.gt@gmail.com ), sent me today the final photos, showcasing the completion of her unique 1860 Virgin Mary Byzantine icon.



Eva added the last strokes and finalized her painting by adding the text and the final details on the figures' clothes.


At the end Eva applied on the icon a layer of varnish, and let this beautiful, small masterpiece to dry.