Ipiros (Epirus) is located in the northwestern corner of present-day Greece, and borders on Albania to the north and the regions of Makedonia and Thessalia to the east and southeast, respectively. Back to Map Traditional music in the region is known for its slow instrumental improvisations (often termed “laments”), and is usually performed by varying combinations of clarinet, violin, stringed lute, and defi (tambourine-like frame drum). More recently, accordion has also become a popular instrument in local musical ensembles. Because of its border location, this region of Greece and the southernmost region of neighboring Albania share some basic music and dance forms in common. Among others, the most common element concerns unique traditions of polyphonic singing where the first and second singer’s voices rise and fall past each other while the remaining singers provide a wordless “ison” drone. Populations of ethnic Greeks continue to live in today’s Albania, having remained there after the drawing of the current boundary in 1912 when Ipiros was taken from Ottoman Turkish rule and officially incorporated into modern Greece.

Much like the melodies typical of the region, folk songs and dances of Ipiros tend to be slow and “heavy” in character. Improvisations are usually only carried out by the lead dancer, often consisting of squats (for men), turns, and sometimes face-to-face dancing with the second individual in line. In many villages, dancers are traditionally separated into male and female dance lines; often, the women’s dance circle forms in front of the male dance line (and so remains on the “inside” of the two lines). Aside from line dances, there are also some freestyle dances in which men and women mingle while dancing solo. In certain areas, particularly highland villages, many dances are accompanied only by a cappella singing of the dancers themselves- these “song dances” can be ritualistic (for specific holidays), or can be more light-hearted and improvised by the lead singer. Men often dance at the front of the line, and sing the verse first, while women dance together in the second portion of the dance line and repeat the verse.

Dances from Ipiros include: Sta Tria, Sta Dyo or Pogonisios, Tsamikos, Fysouni, Dontia Pykna, Fesodervenagas, Kleidotos (song “Tetoia Ora Itane Pses”), Kleftes, Boulonasaina, Zagorisios (Zagori villages), Arapaki, Gaida Dipli, Palamakia, Singathistos (Metsovo)