Music of Cyprus

Music of Cyprus

The music of Cyprus includes a variety of classical, folk and popular genres. Cypriot folk music is similar to the folk music of Greece, and includes dances like sousta, syrtos, Kalamatianos, zeimbekiko, and Rebetika.


Medieval music

Cyprus changed hands numerous times prior to the medieval era, and was an important outpost of Christianity and Western European civilization during the Crusades. The island's peak as a cultural capital of Europe occurred from 1359 to 1432. During that peak, Pierre I de Lusignan made a three year tour on Europe, bringing with him an entourage of musicians that impressed Charles V in Rheims so much that he donated 80 francs in gold to them. On his return to Cyprus, Pierre I brought with him the French Ars Nova and, later, the Ars Subtilior. French musicians became well established in Cyprus, and the city of Nicosia became a capital of the Ars Subtilior style. Janus I de Lusignan saw Cypriot music evolve into its own variety of music. His daughter, Anne de Lusignan, brought a manuscript after her marriage to Louis, Count of Geneva, which contained 159 folios with over two hundred polyphonic compositions, both sacred and secular. The manuscript is now a part of the collection of the National Library of Turin.

Renaissance music

A key-figure of that era was Ieronimos o Tragodistis (Hieronymus the Cantor), a Cypriot student of Gioseffo Zarlino, who flourished around 1550-1560 and, among others, proposed a system that enabled medieval Byzantine chant to correspond to the current contrapuntal practices via the cantus firmus paraphrase.

Byzantine music

Music of Cyprus influenced by Byzantine music. Athanasios Demetriadis, also known as Kasavetis, was a cypriot deacon in Constantinople when eastern orthodox patriarch of Constantinople was his uncle Yerasimos (1794-1797). A secular song lamenting Death's preference for the young, written and set to music by him survives in a collection by Nikiforos Naftouniaris. Chrysanthos of Madytos, Gregory the Protopsaltes, and Chourmouzios the Archivist were responsible for a reform of the notation of Greek ecclesiastical music. Essentially, this work consisted of a simplification of the Byzantine musical symbols which, by the early 19th century, had become so complex and technical that only highly skilled chanters were able to interpret them correctly.

Traditional music

Folk music on Cyprus is similar to the folk music of Greece and music of Turkey, and includes dances like the tatsia, sousta, syrtos, zeibekikos, , and the karsilama suites. Note that unlike Greece and Turkey, there are suites of four karsilama dances, different for men and women, some of them other than the standard 9/8 tempo. Traditional music is modal, based on the makams. Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots use the violin as the main solo instrument, accompanied by the lute for Greek Cypriots and the ud for Turkish Cypriots. Accordion, percussion and penny whistle (pithiavli) are also used. Notable performers of Greek Cypriot folk music include singers Michael Tterlikkas and Christo Sikkis. A niche artist of traditional music is Gianni Delfinogamis, a champion of many tshiatísta (Cypriot Greek: τσιατίστα, "spite [song]") competitions. The tsiatísta is improvised antiphonal singing akin to the Cretan mantinada, with satirical and comedic intent, usually performed between friends or relatives poking fun at each other. Greek-Cypriot folk music is most closely related to the Nisiotika. The folk music of the Aegean Islands and especially so to the music of the Dodecanese.

Classical music

Notable composers:

Rock and heavy metal music

First era: 1970s to 1990s

Basically, the history of Cyprus rock and heavy metal music begins a few years after the war of 1974, during the late 1970s. This period is known as the First Rock Era of Cyprus. One of the pioneers of the rock/metal scene in Cyprus is the band known as Kimstyle TR (TR standing for Teenage Revolution). This band was the first to bring and introduce live rock shows to the Island. The bands first pop/rock single was called "The Lady & The Parrot" which was so ahead of its time, for the standards of Greece and Cyprus, that the lyrics were found offensive; therefore, it was banned by CyBC TV and copies of the single were burnt by the customs authorities. This spawned many teenagers to start forming bands & that brought competitions amongst them in the movie theatres. Kimstyle and Kim Nicolaou's Rock & Reggae show (first of its kind broadcasted by CyBC), who later influenced the group Armageddon in the mid 1980s, with their traditional heavy metal sound are considered to have taken rock music on the Island one step further. The longest-running band to date, they have managed to be synonymous to the Cyprus metal scene throughout the years, with quality releases and a few visits abroad. Nowadays, they have moved more into the progressive side of metal.

In the early 1990s, Godblood started the local Black metal scene, acting firstly as a school-band, and later on continuing with their small record label 'Throne Productions'. They have disbanded and only some can recall some shows they had in Cyprus with bands from the Greek scene like Rotting Christ and an international festival in Israel in the late 1990s. In Heavy/Power metal there were bands of great quality such as Diphtheria and later Arryan Path leading the genre.

There were also a couple of active Thrash metal bands during that era giving great live shows such as Regicide (supporting Epidemic) and then Scotoma. Eventually, the 1990s were a very active period for the scene in general. Some other bands worth mentioning are Zenith and Aposynthesis ("disintegration").

After 2000

Active bands, with releases and/or live shows of the 2000s (some appeared also in magazines and webzines around the globe):

  • Arrayan Path
  • Armageddon
  • Astronomikon
  • Blynd
  • Bludgeond
  • Crestfallen
  • Diphtheria
  • Inferno
  • J.Kriste, Master of Disguise
  • Morior
  • Rite of Passage
  • Prodigal Earth
  • R.U.S.T.
  • Scotoma
  • Sonik Death Monkey
  • Snakecharmer
  • Soulsteal
  • Starblack
  • Sulphur
  • Stormcast
  • Temple of Evil
  • Teror
  • Terminal Disease
  • The Low Spark
  • Vomitile
  • Winter's Verge
  • Quadraphonic
  • Isaac's Cello


Rock music

Some popular rock bands in Cyprus are Katadotes (Καταδότες), Full Volume, Quadraphonic, Johnny & the Liars (Punk/Alternative rock), Maenads, Forty Plus, Triple Jam and Krokes (both are Greek rock bands), Ophiochus (Instrumental Funk/Rock),Isaac's Cello(Psychedelic/experimental), and ScarletSnowPrelude (Post-rock/Ambient).

Hip Hop

Progressive Rock/Metal

Progressive rock is one of the newest genres of rock music entering the Cyprus music scene. It is considered to have been founded in 2004 by Quadraphonic.

Quadraphonic (a.k.a. Q4) is a Progressive rock/metal band that is well known around the island. Formerly known as Volcano, Q4 was born in Cyprus in the summer of 2004 by ex- members of metal bands Zoner (ex-Regicide), Godblood, Fallen Angel and Horny Mary. With a wide variety of influences concentrated mainly on Progressive Rock, Funk, Oriental and Metal, this band has created an original type of music free from labels that describe contemporary music today. With two demo-releases under their name and one promo-CD, Quadraphonic continue to play various gigs all over Cyprus. They are currently working on a full length album that is due to be released in the beginning of 2009.

Electronic and World music

In 2008 the electronic and world music group Mikros Kosmos ("small world") arrived in Cyprus and recorded their first album in Nicosia. The album is released in the United States by Sort Of Records and combines "meditative Middle-Eastern melodies, earthy Mediterranean folk dances, Brazilian jazz harmonies, Andean rhythms, gently manipulated ambient recordings".[3] The duo is composed of Yianna Georgiadou (voice) and Seth Mehl (piano, erhu, percussion, programming). Their first performances presented live remixes for laptop and voice of classic Greek rebetika, with performances at New York City's Golden Festival, Pittsburgh's Woodlab gallery series, and elsewhere in the United States. Mikros Kosmos's full-length original album moves away from the classic rebetika with an affection for minimal arrangements and a lyrical abstraction which is uncommon in the history of Greek music. Recent trends have seen the rise of the island Ayia Napa, a resort, as a home for Cypriot club music.


North Cyprus is becoming a generous host to Cyprus cultural events. The island began to host many cultural events over the past few years.

During the spring months of April and May Bellapais Abbey (a 13th Century Lusignan Monastery in Kyrenia) hosts celebrated musicians all over the world.

Salamis in Famagusta is another such Cyprus historic site used for concerts. Both of these places in Cyprus now host cultural activities and music festivals during spring and summer periods.

See also


External links

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