The Legacy of the Oriental Mother
In his "Journey to the Morea" (O Moreas), Nikos Kazantzakis writes: "In the taverns, at festivals, on holidays, when they have drunk a little, the small businessmen and infantry officers [of the Peloponnese], so logical and selfish, break into melancholy eastern amanedhes (sing. amanes), into a sudden longing; they reveal a psyche completely different from their sober everyday one. A great treasure, a deep longing....". (1965: 325) [my translation].
Further on, Kazantzakis expands on the bifurcating nature of the contemporary Greek of his day: "What has the dually-descended modern Greek taken from his father, what from his mother?.. He is clever and shallow, with no metaphysical anxieties, and yet, when he begins to sing, a universal bitterness leaps up from his oriental bowels, breaks through the crust of Greek logic and, from the depths of his being, totally mysterious and dark, the Orient emerges..." (ibid: 326).
In these two passages Nikos Kazantzakis articulates a common Greek attitude to a late Ottoman musical tradition, and in particular to the vocal improvisations called amanedhes.
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(updated 1 Sept 2000)