The Eastward Piano Project

Collaborative Online International Learning

University of Ioannina -- SUNY New Paltz

What is Rebetiko?

Often in Greece, rebetiko is divided into two categories, the Smyrna-style and the Piraeus- style, even though many times the term is used exclusively for the Piraeus-style and in particular for the marginalized repertoire, a part of which entered discography. During the peak of the latter (which is based on the bouzouki), the other styles, techniques, performance practices and so on do not instantly cease to exist; in fact, they conform and co-exist, even though the repertoire obviously leans towards the form that has the bouzouki and the guitar as its focal point. The bouzouki enters discography massively from 1933 onwards, in Athens. The term "rebetiko", however, appears circa 20 years before, in 1912- 1913, printed on record labels in Constantinople. If we take into account other places of recording, such as New York and Chicago, but also Athens and Smyrna, where the term was also printed on the labels, we will see that genre classification is much more complex than it seems. In general terms, we are talking about urban folk-popular songs and instrumental pieces of the Greek-speaking world. The instrumentation used ranges from guitars, santurs and violins, to pianos, bouzoukis and accordions. Rhythmology concerns the hasapiko, the zeimbekiko, the tsifteteli, the bolero, the syrto, the habanera et al. Aesthetically speaking, a part of the recorded repertoire involves a la Turca elements, while another part involves a la franca ones. More importantly, however, the creation of an in-between space of these two strong poles is more than apparent in discography, which can be described as the a la Greca aesthetic, which concerns mixes of practices, modalities, singing styles and repertoires.

For more information see the website of the Kounadis Archive Virtual Museum:

SUNY New Paltz

The University of Ioannina (Arta Campus)

During the Fall 2022 Semester, the State University of New York at New Paltz had the unique opportunity to collaborate with the University of Ioannina, in Greece, on a project involving students studying piano at each institution. From this project, the students at SUNY New Paltz learned how to play traditional Greek music on the piano, taught by the students in Greece themselves, over the platform Zoom. Four American students were partnered with four Greek students to learn one piece for each pair in private online meetings that took place over the course of several weeks. This site serves to archive the work of these students and serves as a template for other universities interested in implementing such a project.

Grace and Kassiani lesson 1: Pronouncing Greek

Grace and Kassiani Lesson 2:

Playing the Piece

Jack and Fotis Lesson 1:

Introducing the Piece & Variations

Jack and Fotis Lesson 2:

Rebetiko vs. Laiko

Ben and Antonis Lesson 1:

Taksim Harmonic Structure

Ben and Antonis Lesson 2:

Playing a Taksim

Aleks and Sofia Lesson 1

Old vs. New Zeibekiko

Aleks and Sofia Lesson 2:

Playing the Piece

Original Recordings Featuring Traditional Instrumentation

Stou Digeni Ta Alonia

I Want a Princess

Minor of the Dawn

Ouzo & Hashish

About the participants

My name is Kassiani Amigdalitsis and I have a diploma on classical piano and vocals. From 2019 I have been studying “laiko piano” (folk-popular piano) at the University of Ioannina, Department of Music Studies, with Mr. Nikos Ordoulidis. I have been teaching classical piano and singing since 1996 at conservatories, music schools and public high schools. At the same time, I have been playing the piano and singing, solo or in ensembles, at numerous music scenes, theaters and concert halls, playing either classical, rock, pop or laiko (folk-popular) repertoire. I enjoy writing lyrics that would become songs; often, I write the music too. I have written six original scores for theatrical plays for the Municipal theater of Volos and for the University of Volos. Since 2014, I have been a member of “Ionia” traditional orchestra, playing piano at events throughout Greece, accompanied by well-known Greek artists.

My name is Fotis Geropoulos, and I was born in 2001 in the city of Giannitsa, Greece. I play several music instruments: piano, keyboards, a percussion instrument called tubercle and recorder. I live in Arta where I am an undergraduate student at the University of Ioannina, with specialization in folk-popular piano with professor Nikos Ordoulidis. My first steps in the field of music began in 2011 at the Minore School of Music, where I completed my studies in harmony and keyboards. Under the auspices of the school, I participated in many concerts, some of which took place in Alexandria. In 2019 I participated in a concert in the city of Veria, where I was honored with an award for my excellent participation. Finally, I have participated in various concerts, where I was chosen, along with five other students, by the conductor of the School.

I (Sofia Kyriaki) was born in Ioannina city where I started my music studies in a private conservatory. I learned classical piano and music theory. I obtained my degree in piano, harmony of tonal music and counterpoint. I teach in a private conservatory and I have been the pianist in children choirs and mixed choirs in Preveza city, the town I live for the last 25 years. I continue my music studies in laiko piano (folk-popular) in the Music Department of the University of Ioannina, in the Mr Ordoulidis class.