05.11.2015

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When I went to Thrace in 1989 with my wife and 10-week-old daughter I employed my trusty technique for unearthing the local folk culture, which is to walk into the nearest likely place and ask. He played in the Greek manner, with the drone balanced on the crook of his elbow and the chanter held forward. The following year my wife found out about an island in the Cyclades that a girl friend of hers was a regular visitor to, and where there were two traditional tsabounaides a€“ players of the island bagpipe. The whole holiday was, in fact, a catalogue of near-disasters (most of which I will not mention) but I relished each one because of the effort it required to renew my faith in providence and the Greek people, and the rewards I gained. The islands of the Cyclades each have two main villages, one on the sea edge and one on the top.
Three more days passed while we explored the island, absorbing the warm spring sunshine and breathing the herb-scented air. With only one day to go before we had to leave for Piraeus I discovered that the ferry schedule we had been given was wrong; there was no ferry the next day. When I speak highly of Greek music I need hardly say I'm not referring to modern bouzouki music, which is a rather empty style of playing derived from a more interesting but now largely defunct style of bar-room music called rembetika. Property situated in the best areas is most desirable because it has the greatest value and demandsA the highest prices. From there you will be directed to someone who will know someone who will know someone, and with uncanny serendipity you are soon in the midst of a very satisfying experience.
With this posture he could release the chanter altogether during improvisations and bounce it rapidly on his thumb, executing a back-note trill which drew gasps of appreciation from the now-assembled audience. Amazingly, both Mehmet's instrument and mine were exactly in tune a€“ B flat a€“ and as I knew some Thracian tunes we were able to play together, though his louder conical bore chanter swamped mine.
Not least was the experience of sailing through the Cyclades, with islands appearing to left and right, gracefully recumbent, dozing in their translucent shroud of magic like jewels in the lustrous sea. That was all she could tell me, as she herself never went 'up' any more; she had a grievance against the 'up' villagers involving a stolen purse (the detailed story need not concern us here) and would not speak to them.
I had been warned not to expect too much; it would be difficult to get him to play, the weather had to be right, he had to feel right, it had to be a special occasion. Aristidis kept time resolutely in a monotonous marching rhythm while Yiannoukos played a few notes with inaccurate tempo, stuck on one note for a bit and then played a few more. We breakfasted on fresh bread from the village bakery; Adrienne and I dined on local fish washed down with retsina. I could either hire another fishing boat to Ios ( if I could find anyone to take us) or get the next ferry to Santorini and fly to Athens from there.
I waited outside the taverna as dusk fell and the last rays of the sun lit up the leaves of the vines growing above over the street.
It was a modern one, with fruit machines and televisions in the comfortable lounge showing a Greek soap opera. There is an enormous variety of good folk music in Greece, some very sophisticated, demanding an acquired taste, and some quite simple. In Xanthi, the provincial capital, things started happening when I spotted a small urchin standing on a street corner holding what looked suspiciously like part of a gaida drone. He also had the trick of walking up to a seated listener whom he judged to be sympathetic and playing directly into his ear, more as an acknowledgement of the listener's interest than a direct appeal for money, though I'm not ashamed to say I responded to this gesture fairly liberally. All the boys were careless and funloving, attaching more importance to horseplay than they did to the business of earning a living. We alighted on Ios without knowing whether or not we would be able to get to our destination, Sikinos, which was visible close by, as there was no ferry. I got him to understand that I had come all the way from England to hear him play, and he agreed to oblige me that evening. His reeds were not well tuned and the two pipes of his double chanter were in audible disagreement. In the midst of all these negotiations and the constant effort of keeping my family occupied and relatively comfortable, I knew I still had to track down the other piper, the elder brother. The primitive traditional music of Sikinos was already a world away, as insubstantial now as the island itself, just a faint violet smudge on the horizon. Adonis had gone to a nearby hut where he kept his tsabouna.A  He arrived, bringing the bagpipe and a toubi.
It's the weather, the sea, the islands, the food, the extraordinary light, the variety of experiences, the folk culture (especially the music) and most of all the people. Many of these traditions are very ancient indeed, having probably remained unchanged since early Byzantine or even Classical times. Accompanied by an English-speaking student who had befriended us, I approached the young ragamuffin, examined the object and, after ascertaining that it was indeed what I had first thought, was conducted to the town square, where there was a small gang of travelling orphans living on the busking proceeds of their leader, a 14-year-old Turkish gypsy called Mehmet who came from Oresteia near the Turkish border.


The bag of Mehmet's instrument was a large goatskin, very dilapidated and plugged with a saucer-sized wooden disk where it had been torn. When anyone got some money it was immediately spent and the purchase shared among the gang without preference. But I had drunk enough retsina by that time to be generously disposed towards the musicians and applauded fulsomely when, after about fifteen minutes, the ragged improvisation came to a halt.
I made one last effort and got directions to the house of Anna Manala, the lady who spoke English. Adonis Kaboulas and his brother Yiannoukos are the last, definitely the last, exponents of an unbroken line of music stretching back into antiquity. I find in them a lively spirituality, a true pride of self, that I only occasionally find elsewhere. The peculiar wailing music of Epirus and southern Albania is an example of one of those untouched traditions.
With one of the smaller boys playing expertly on the toubeleki drum, he proceeded to regale my ears with fine gaida music. The chanter also was the worse for wear, with a piece of wood replacing a broken section between two of the finger holes. Mehmet possessed the quality which all people from that part of the world have, of rewarding sincerity with warmer sincerity. The Rough Guide to Greece says that the word malaka (wanker) is an affectionate term of abuse in Athens. He chatted and laughed with his young son as we dived into the billows, drenched with every bowspray; an ideal father-son relationship, relaxed and trusting.
A middle-class, English-speaking Greek woman who lived on the island told me about the bagpipers.
They have faults too, of course; they can be over-emotional, lazy, arrogant, but underlying it all is a richness of experiencing exemplified by Katsimbalis in Henry Miller's book The Colossus of Maroussi a€“ the attitude that 'life is interesting because I am living it'. Bagpipe music also, because of its inability to adapt to the demands of more recent musical trends, including ensemble playing, has retained a character that clarinet, violin, sandouri (hammered dulcimer) etc.
They think that if a person walks in faith, that somehow means he will escape all adversities in life.A But when you read the New Testament, you find that the early believers and the Apostles faced many adversities. Mehmet spent a good deal of time mucking around with his chanter reed, scorching the tongue with a cigarette lighter and so on, but couldn't get it working to his satisfaction and eventually broke it with a resigned shrug. I quickly developed a strong affection for him and his scruffy entourage, and was sorry to leave Xanthi. Outside the airport I used the word on a taxi driver who refused to take me, me wife, our daughter and my three daughters from a previous marriage together in his ample-sized vehicle. A young man sat down with them and began to sing along, at which point I realised that the apparently random sequences of notes that Yiannoukos was playing were actually tunes a€“ local traditional melodies.
She had heard that by good fortune Adonis was herding his goats in a nearby field and she would take me to see him, if he was still there. But I particularly remember the innocent, untroubled expression on Adonis' face as he sang the simple old songs. But yes, at 8.30 he walked into the taverna carrying his tsambouna, accompaied by an old man in his 80s called Aristidis, who was going to play the toubi, a small snare drum. We struggled up the hillside on foot, over rocks and thorny scrub, and eventually came upon a small hut, ouside which an elderly man stood, raggedly dressed, leaning on a stick. He was a natural musician, playing with sensitivity and a superior technique to that of his brother, and his chanter pipes were in tune. Greeks nowadays love to rattle up and down the scale with great virtuosity, whereas the simple six-note tunes of gaida, tsabouna and tulum offer no such opportunities. The devil was the one who shrewdly planned those attacks in order to stop the preaching of the Gospel. Just as you can liveA in the city or out of the city, you can live in faith or outsideA of faith. I was too cowardly to admit that I had been the cause of this inexplicable event until we were on the ferry and safely on our way. We played together for the rest of the evening while the relaxed group of listeners chatted and joined in the songs.
But Greek pipers do play with their own particular brands of skill and panache even if you have to be there to see it. And Satan is still working nonstop to prevent people from stepping into the glorious plan God has designed for their lives.A There is something very encouraging about studying the strategies the devil arrayed against the early believers. The older brother Adonis was generally acknowledged to be the better piper, but in any case the islanders thought tsabouna music old-fashioned, preferring to listen to modern music on the radio.


Anna hailed him cheerfully and launched into a long speech, while I stood smiling and nodding.
Anna told me that she had persuaded him to play for me that evening up in the village, and that he would meet me later at the port kafeneion. As long as you stay a€?ina€? that place where God told you to be,A you are a€?ina€? faith and you therefore please God. The three brothers and two sisters were distributed among the families of the island as was the custom. A man with no faith wouldna€™t have survived those attacks.a€?A Dona€™t get the impression that walking in faith removes you from all challenges.
When the adoptive parents of Adonis died he inherited their land as they had no children of their own, but he did nothing with it, preferring to pasture his small flock of goats around the island, moving from place to place.
Faith just givesA you the ability toA overcome the challenges that will attempt to assail you.
But the grammar used in this statement does not imply a single victory in the past, butA a continuous and abiding victory.
Hea€™ll orchestrate situations to make you take your eyesA off Jesus and to fill you with worry and fear. Paul had obviously grabbed hold of Jesusa€™ words in John 16:33, because heA overcame everything Satan ever tried to use against him. Forty stripeshe may give him, and not exceeda€¦.a€?A This was one of the most vicious treatments of the ancient world.
The tortured persona€™s clothing was completely removed so he appeared before his persecutors naked.
Then the torturer would begin to lash the prisonera€™s bare body with a whip made of three long cords, one from calf hide and the other two from donkey hide.A Pieces of glass, bone, and metal were often attached to the end of the cords to make the lashing more memorable.
The torturer would hit so hard that the pieces of glass, bone, and metal would lodge into the victima€™s skin.
Then as the cords were jerked backward for the next lash of the whip, those pieces of glass, bone, and metal would rip out significant amounts of flesh. God promisesA that if you stay a€?ina€? faith, there is a glorious reward awaiting you in the near future. If the whip was made of three cords and Paul received thirty-nineA lashes each time, this means he received 117 lashes at each beating! And he went through this gruelingA exercise on five different occasions, which means 585 lashes were laid across Paula€™s upper chest,A face, back, buttocks, and legs. I know that is whereA I am supposed to be a€” and I know that is what I am supposed to be doing. I am asking You to help meA become single-minded, concentrated, and focused in my determination never to move out ofA faith again. I want to live at the address of faith, for I know that is where I will please YouA the most. Ia€™m sure it isna€™t a beating of thirty-nine lashes, yet it may still seem overpowering and overwhelming to you. I am so sorry for the times Ia€™ve allowed my flesh to whine and complain when IA should have been digging in my heels and latching on to the power of the Holy Spirit. Or have you moved out of faith and into the neighborhood of doubt and unbelief, where you know that you are no longer pleasing God?A 2.
What people or situations has he used to try to pull you out of faith and into the territory of disobedience and unbelief?A 3. In the power of the Spirit and in Jesusa€™ name, I am well able to stand againstA each attack, to resist every devilish scheme that comes against me, and to maintain the victoryA of Jesus Christ in every part of my life. Or have you allowed your flesh to moan and groan and drag you down into the language of defeat?A 2. What scriptures can you meditate on and confess daily that will take you to a higher place of victory? Why dona€™t you write those verses down and put them in a visible place where youa€™ll see them every day and be reminded to declare them over your life?A 3. Can you think of any people in your life who are currently struggling with the temptation to give up in the midst of difficult circumstances?




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