Xelogiastra

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At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe is living in peace and prosperity. The “Belle Époque” is an outgrowth of previous important historical events and developments. The networks that are created and which evolve funnel both people and their products, tangible and intangible. It is within this multi-layered world that sound recording and sound reproduction is invented. Early record labels send mobile crews literally all over the world to record local musicians. The range of the repertoire is endless. Cosmopolitanism in large urban centers favors polystylisms and polymorphisms. Colonialism, revolutions, conflicts, refugee flows; the theater, cinema, radio, photography, orchestras’ tours, but also circulations in all kinds of commercial channels in a world that evolves dynamically and anisotropically, form a complex network of “centers” and “peripheries” in alternating roles setting musical idioms in motion, both literally and figuratively. The networks in which the Greek-speaking musics participate, constantly conversing with their co-tenants, are magnificent. Discography has already provided important tools in understanding the relationships that developed between “national” repertoires. The result of this ongoing research is “Cosmopolitanism in Greek Historical Discography”.

Naturally, in the large urban centers of the Ottoman Empire around the Mediterranean Sea, the “conversations” of the Greek-speakers with their Turkish-speaking Muslim “co-tenants”, the Catholic Greek-speakers, the Armenians, the Sepharadi and Ashkenazi Jews, the Levantine Protestants, and the Europeans and the Americans, were more than intense. The relevant evidence demonstrates the musical exchanges between them and elucidate an ecumene where everyone contributed to the great musical “melting-pot”, and where everyone may draw from it, as well as redeposit it, in a new form, with a reformulated text and its meaning, with sometimes clear and sometimes blurred references to its pre-text, until someone else pulls it out again, through the “melting-pot”, so that it becomes clear that there is no end in this recreational and dynamic process where fluidity prevails.

These "conversations" are also found in the performing arts. After all, the inextricable relation between music and performing arts is more than vital. The theater, in its various froms, traffics music on its own terms and plays a key role in diffusing it to places that are often far away. It also builds a special network that communicates with discography. Within this network, already existing tendencies and aesthetic currents are often created or integrated, such as exoticism, especially during the period when the phenomenon of sound recording and reproduction takes on commercial, mass and universal dimensions.

"I xelogiastra" (The enchantress), a song with an exotic content, characteristically outlines this dialectical, multi-layered relationship between the various “national” repertoires, performing arts and aesthetic trends and currents, as its melody is also found in other nodes of the aforementioned cultural network.

In the era of discography, the advance of exoticism is irresistible and leaves a very strong imprint. However much it seems to be defined by the principle of "locality", exoticism is a global aesthetic constant, a "common" language of the new age strongly marked by modernism and inscribed in a complex and lengthy process of osmosis among "national" musicians, which produces repertoires with "ecumenical" or global characteristics.

Within these contexts the representation of the East gives the composers the possibility to expand the musical language they use, using new timbres, melodic developments and rhythmic patterns. Of course, this is done in the way in which they themselves perceive a musical material that is not easily accessible to them, neither in breadth nor in depth. A key obstacle is the large gap that separates the mindset of the "musical syntaxes" of the Eastern cultures and the culturally hegemonic Central European example.

The main musical features of the representation of the East are rather standardized: the modal entity of Hitzaz, the use of modes such as the Phrygian and Dorian, and the use of vocal melismas and vocalizations. Regarding the instruments, the representation of the exotic is systematically undertaken by the English horn and the oboe and, at the same time, the percussion is reinforced with tambourines, triangles, cymbals, gongs, etc. Regarding the rhythm, rhythmic patterns are chosen that "presage" one of the most important musical characteristics of exoticism: the bolero, called "oriental", which will define exoticism in Greek discography in the post-war period.

At the center of the Eastern stage (which is always represented as Islamic) stands the palace, synonymous with pleasures and opulence, within which every imaginable intemperance is put into practice. Violent and despotic pashas, maharajas and sheikhs enjoy lavishness while indulging in proverbial laziness. The figure that dominates the ethnoscape of the East is certainly the female, an object of desire. Through a series of roles, almost exclusively leading ones, women embody the mysticism, eroticism and sensuality of the imaginary East. The ultimate symbol of lust, a trademark of the East, is none other than the harem (Lewis, 2004: 12-52). The slavery of the female body contributes decisively to the ethnoscape of the East, bringing the narrator face to face with transcendental acts of heroism. In the East, calendar time is polarized, with the atmosphere almost always described as nocturnal. Darkness is a powerful symbol of escalating emotional tension, as it is synonymous with a metaphysical fog.

Greek composers followed the great trend of Orientalism in European operetta (see Seiragakis, 2013: 35-42 and Evangelou, 2022: 100-106) the heyday of which would be associated with the first great explosion of exoticism in Greek artistic activity during the interwar period, approximately from 1916 to 1935. These works are characterized by a complete exotic phantasmagoria, with the libretto, music, sets and costumes contributing to its creation. More rarely, in the operetta (as well as in the revue), the fragmented appearance of exotic places and people is observed.

One such case is the song "Xelogiastra" from the three-act operetta "I despoinis Sorolop" (Miss Laziness) by Theofrastos Sakellaridis. The play premiered on July 28, 1924 (and not on the 27th, as stated in the musical score, see I vradyni newspaper, Year A', issue No. 279, 28/8/1924, page 3) by the Fotis Samartzis - Nikos Miliadis troupe, at the Alhambra Τheater. Initially, the lead role of Miss Sorolop (that is, Miss Laziness) was performed by Afroditi Laoutari and from September 18 onwards by Olympia Kantioti-Ritsiardi.

The song tells the story of a slave girl who, when the “mad pasha who lives among the gold” discovers that “some lad has swept her off her feet and ravished her heart”, murders the court singer in a rage. The metaphysical atmosphere is intensified when the murdered singer haunts the slave girl.

Even though it is a duet between the two central characters of the play, that is, Miss Sorolop and Mr. Kornelidis, in this recording it is performed by the singer Giorgos Vidalis. This performance includes three of the five stanzas of the song's lyrics (for all lyrics, see here).

The musical phrase used in the chorus of this song, in the part beginning with the lyrics "Gialeli leli leli", is also found in a later revue. More specifically, in the chorus of the song "Mousme", which comes from the 1925 revue "Protevousiana" (big-city girl/woman) by Aimilios Dragatsis, Antonis Vottis and Grigoris Konstantinidis, which premiered on June 23, 1925 at the Kentrikon Theater, in Athens, by the Alekos Gonidis troupe. We should point out that in “Mousme’s” commercial musical score, the song is labeled as "blues-fox on an oriental motif" (Blues fox sur un motif oriental).

Accordingly, this recording of "Xelogiastra" is labeled as an "Arabic fox-trot" on the label of the record, and as an "oriental fox-trot" on the commercial musical score.

The tune is also found in Turkish discography. In February 1911 Udi Karenkin & Kemancı Mike recorded in Constantinople (Istanbul) the song "Jaleli" (Favorite 4423-t – 1-53217 και επανέκδοση Columbia USA E6133). Around 1930, in Istanbul, Karındaş Mahmut Bey recorded the song "Ya muallim ya muallim" (Sahibinin Sesi AX-1191). The tune is also found in the recording "Lalanın Eğlenceleri" (Columbia W.T. 2121 - 18545 and Columbia G.G. 1024), which contains an excerpt (from 1′ 00″ to the end) from a Turkish play. It took place in Istanbul, in 1930, by actor Komik Hasan Efendi (Kel Hasan Efendi) and E. Dedeoğlou, accompanied by an İnce Saz (Turkish style orchestra). It was also recorded under the title "Ya muallim", in Istanbul, between 1947–1956, by Şükrü Tunar (clarinet), Ahmet Yatman (qanun), Şerif İçli (oud), Ali Kocadinç (darbuka) for Balkan (Balkan 4025-B – 4025-B).

The tune can also be found in the Armenian repertoire that was recorded in America. Around 1927, Edward Bogosian (Եդուարդ Պօղոսեան) and the Gulazian Orchestra recorded "Pessan Zokanchin Kove" (Փեսան զոքանչին քովը) in New York for the label Pharos (P 322 – 549). The phrase in question can be heard after 2′ 20″.

The tune can also be found in the Arab repertoire that was recorded in America. More specifically, in the 1940s, an unknown orchestra recorded, probably in New York, the song "Raks el Badou" (رقص إل بدو, Dance of the Bedouins), for of Alamphon (A-2020-1 - A-2020), owned by the Lebanese-Syrian Farid Alam al-Din (فريد علم الدين).

In addition to the present recording, six other covers of the song have been released:
– "Xelogiastra", by Mrs Zafeiropoulou and the Karatzas Orchestra, recorded in Athens, 1925 (Odeon Go-116 – A 154095)
– "Xelogiastra", by Tetos Dimitriadis, recorded in New York, October 1925 (Columbia 105964 – 7023-F)
– "I xelogiastra", by Eleni Vlachopoulou, O. Kokkinos and an orchestra, recorded in Athens, March 11, 1926 (HMV BJ 307-1 – AO-133/7-14222)
– "I xelogiastra", by Eleni Vlachopoulou, O. Kokkinos and an orchestra, recorded in Athens, March 11, 1926 (HMV BJ 307-2 – AO-134/7-14223)
– "I xelogiastra", by a choir and an orchestra conducted by Angelos Martinos, recorded in Athens, probably in 1927 (Polydor V-45154)
– "Xelogiastra", by Antonis Delendas, recorded in Athens, probably in 1934 (Odeon GA 1723)

The number of covers undoubtedly reflects the song's popularity.

Two advertisements have also been found, one from the play's first season in 1924 (see here) and one possibly from the 1940s (see here).

Research and text: George Evangelou, Leonardos Kounadis and Nikos Ordoulidis

Author (Composer):
Lyrics by:
Sakellaridis Theofrastos
Singer(s):
Giorgos Vidalis Trio
Orchestra-Performers:
Jazz band
Recording date:
1925
Recording location:
Athens
Language(s):
Greek
Publisher:
Odeon
Catalogue number:
A 154063
Matrix number:
Gο 72-2
Duration:
3:10
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
Odeon_A154063_Xelogiastra
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "Xelogiastra", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=10283
Lyrics:
(Miss Sorolop)
Σκλάβα του τρελού πασά
που ζει μέσα στα χρυσά
γέρνει στον κρυφό οντά της
κι αγροικάει το σεβντά της το μυστικό

(Mr Cornelides)
Κι ακούει κάποιο παλληκάρι που της είχε πάρει
τον νου και την καρδιά μια φορά
που κάτω απ’ το κάστρο κλαίει
και της κρυφολέει λυπητερά

(Miss Sorolop)Αχ! Ξελογιάστρα έβγα απ’ τα κάστρα
κι έλα μια νύχτα να με βρεις στην ανθισμένη χουρμαδιά
πάρε με σκλάβο γιατί δεν παύω
για σε μεράκι να ’χω πάντα στην καρδιά

At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe is living in peace and prosperity. The “Belle Époque” is an outgrowth of previous important historical events and developments. The networks that are created and which evolve funnel both people and their products, tangible and intangible. It is within this multi-layered world that sound recording and sound reproduction is invented. Early record labels send mobile crews literally all over the world to record local musicians. The range of the repertoire is endless. Cosmopolitanism in large urban centers favors polystylisms and polymorphisms. Colonialism, revolutions, conflicts, refugee flows; the theater, cinema, radio, photography, orchestras’ tours, but also circulations in all kinds of commercial channels in a world that evolves dynamically and anisotropically, form a complex network of “centers” and “peripheries” in alternating roles setting musical idioms in motion, both literally and figuratively. The networks in which the Greek-speaking musics participate, constantly conversing with their co-tenants, are magnificent. Discography has already provided important tools in understanding the relationships that developed between “national” repertoires. The result of this ongoing research is “Cosmopolitanism in Greek Historical Discography”.

Naturally, in the large urban centers of the Ottoman Empire around the Mediterranean Sea, the “conversations” of the Greek-speakers with their Turkish-speaking Muslim “co-tenants”, the Catholic Greek-speakers, the Armenians, the Sepharadi and Ashkenazi Jews, the Levantine Protestants, and the Europeans and the Americans, were more than intense. The relevant evidence demonstrates the musical exchanges between them and elucidate an ecumene where everyone contributed to the great musical “melting-pot”, and where everyone may draw from it, as well as redeposit it, in a new form, with a reformulated text and its meaning, with sometimes clear and sometimes blurred references to its pre-text, until someone else pulls it out again, through the “melting-pot”, so that it becomes clear that there is no end in this recreational and dynamic process where fluidity prevails.

These "conversations" are also found in the performing arts. After all, the inextricable relation between music and performing arts is more than vital. The theater, in its various froms, traffics music on its own terms and plays a key role in diffusing it to places that are often far away. It also builds a special network that communicates with discography. Within this network, already existing tendencies and aesthetic currents are often created or integrated, such as exoticism, especially during the period when the phenomenon of sound recording and reproduction takes on commercial, mass and universal dimensions.

"I xelogiastra" (The enchantress), a song with an exotic content, characteristically outlines this dialectical, multi-layered relationship between the various “national” repertoires, performing arts and aesthetic trends and currents, as its melody is also found in other nodes of the aforementioned cultural network.

In the era of discography, the advance of exoticism is irresistible and leaves a very strong imprint. However much it seems to be defined by the principle of "locality", exoticism is a global aesthetic constant, a "common" language of the new age strongly marked by modernism and inscribed in a complex and lengthy process of osmosis among "national" musicians, which produces repertoires with "ecumenical" or global characteristics.

Within these contexts the representation of the East gives the composers the possibility to expand the musical language they use, using new timbres, melodic developments and rhythmic patterns. Of course, this is done in the way in which they themselves perceive a musical material that is not easily accessible to them, neither in breadth nor in depth. A key obstacle is the large gap that separates the mindset of the "musical syntaxes" of the Eastern cultures and the culturally hegemonic Central European example.

The main musical features of the representation of the East are rather standardized: the modal entity of Hitzaz, the use of modes such as the Phrygian and Dorian, and the use of vocal melismas and vocalizations. Regarding the instruments, the representation of the exotic is systematically undertaken by the English horn and the oboe and, at the same time, the percussion is reinforced with tambourines, triangles, cymbals, gongs, etc. Regarding the rhythm, rhythmic patterns are chosen that "presage" one of the most important musical characteristics of exoticism: the bolero, called "oriental", which will define exoticism in Greek discography in the post-war period.

At the center of the Eastern stage (which is always represented as Islamic) stands the palace, synonymous with pleasures and opulence, within which every imaginable intemperance is put into practice. Violent and despotic pashas, maharajas and sheikhs enjoy lavishness while indulging in proverbial laziness. The figure that dominates the ethnoscape of the East is certainly the female, an object of desire. Through a series of roles, almost exclusively leading ones, women embody the mysticism, eroticism and sensuality of the imaginary East. The ultimate symbol of lust, a trademark of the East, is none other than the harem (Lewis, 2004: 12-52). The slavery of the female body contributes decisively to the ethnoscape of the East, bringing the narrator face to face with transcendental acts of heroism. In the East, calendar time is polarized, with the atmosphere almost always described as nocturnal. Darkness is a powerful symbol of escalating emotional tension, as it is synonymous with a metaphysical fog.

Greek composers followed the great trend of Orientalism in European operetta (see Seiragakis, 2013: 35-42 and Evangelou, 2022: 100-106) the heyday of which would be associated with the first great explosion of exoticism in Greek artistic activity during the interwar period, approximately from 1916 to 1935. These works are characterized by a complete exotic phantasmagoria, with the libretto, music, sets and costumes contributing to its creation. More rarely, in the operetta (as well as in the revue), the fragmented appearance of exotic places and people is observed.

One such case is the song "Xelogiastra" from the three-act operetta "I despoinis Sorolop" (Miss Laziness) by Theofrastos Sakellaridis. The play premiered on July 28, 1924 (and not on the 27th, as stated in the musical score, see I vradyni newspaper, Year A', issue No. 279, 28/8/1924, page 3) by the Fotis Samartzis - Nikos Miliadis troupe, at the Alhambra Τheater. Initially, the lead role of Miss Sorolop (that is, Miss Laziness) was performed by Afroditi Laoutari and from September 18 onwards by Olympia Kantioti-Ritsiardi.

The song tells the story of a slave girl who, when the “mad pasha who lives among the gold” discovers that “some lad has swept her off her feet and ravished her heart”, murders the court singer in a rage. The metaphysical atmosphere is intensified when the murdered singer haunts the slave girl.

Even though it is a duet between the two central characters of the play, that is, Miss Sorolop and Mr. Kornelidis, in this recording it is performed by the singer Giorgos Vidalis. This performance includes three of the five stanzas of the song's lyrics (for all lyrics, see here).

The musical phrase used in the chorus of this song, in the part beginning with the lyrics "Gialeli leli leli", is also found in a later revue. More specifically, in the chorus of the song "Mousme", which comes from the 1925 revue "Protevousiana" (big-city girl/woman) by Aimilios Dragatsis, Antonis Vottis and Grigoris Konstantinidis, which premiered on June 23, 1925 at the Kentrikon Theater, in Athens, by the Alekos Gonidis troupe. We should point out that in “Mousme’s” commercial musical score, the song is labeled as "blues-fox on an oriental motif" (Blues fox sur un motif oriental).

Accordingly, this recording of "Xelogiastra" is labeled as an "Arabic fox-trot" on the label of the record, and as an "oriental fox-trot" on the commercial musical score.

The tune is also found in Turkish discography. In February 1911 Udi Karenkin & Kemancı Mike recorded in Constantinople (Istanbul) the song "Jaleli" (Favorite 4423-t – 1-53217 και επανέκδοση Columbia USA E6133). Around 1930, in Istanbul, Karındaş Mahmut Bey recorded the song "Ya muallim ya muallim" (Sahibinin Sesi AX-1191). The tune is also found in the recording "Lalanın Eğlenceleri" (Columbia W.T. 2121 - 18545 and Columbia G.G. 1024), which contains an excerpt (from 1′ 00″ to the end) from a Turkish play. It took place in Istanbul, in 1930, by actor Komik Hasan Efendi (Kel Hasan Efendi) and E. Dedeoğlou, accompanied by an İnce Saz (Turkish style orchestra). It was also recorded under the title "Ya muallim", in Istanbul, between 1947–1956, by Şükrü Tunar (clarinet), Ahmet Yatman (qanun), Şerif İçli (oud), Ali Kocadinç (darbuka) for Balkan (Balkan 4025-B – 4025-B).

The tune can also be found in the Armenian repertoire that was recorded in America. Around 1927, Edward Bogosian (Եդուարդ Պօղոսեան) and the Gulazian Orchestra recorded "Pessan Zokanchin Kove" (Փեսան զոքանչին քովը) in New York for the label Pharos (P 322 – 549). The phrase in question can be heard after 2′ 20″.

The tune can also be found in the Arab repertoire that was recorded in America. More specifically, in the 1940s, an unknown orchestra recorded, probably in New York, the song "Raks el Badou" (رقص إل بدو, Dance of the Bedouins), for of Alamphon (A-2020-1 - A-2020), owned by the Lebanese-Syrian Farid Alam al-Din (فريد علم الدين).

In addition to the present recording, six other covers of the song have been released:
– "Xelogiastra", by Mrs Zafeiropoulou and the Karatzas Orchestra, recorded in Athens, 1925 (Odeon Go-116 – A 154095)
– "Xelogiastra", by Tetos Dimitriadis, recorded in New York, October 1925 (Columbia 105964 – 7023-F)
– "I xelogiastra", by Eleni Vlachopoulou, O. Kokkinos and an orchestra, recorded in Athens, March 11, 1926 (HMV BJ 307-1 – AO-133/7-14222)
– "I xelogiastra", by Eleni Vlachopoulou, O. Kokkinos and an orchestra, recorded in Athens, March 11, 1926 (HMV BJ 307-2 – AO-134/7-14223)
– "I xelogiastra", by a choir and an orchestra conducted by Angelos Martinos, recorded in Athens, probably in 1927 (Polydor V-45154)
– "Xelogiastra", by Antonis Delendas, recorded in Athens, probably in 1934 (Odeon GA 1723)

The number of covers undoubtedly reflects the song's popularity.

Two advertisements have also been found, one from the play's first season in 1924 (see here) and one possibly from the 1940s (see here).

Research and text: George Evangelou, Leonardos Kounadis and Nikos Ordoulidis

Author (Composer):
Lyrics by:
Sakellaridis Theofrastos
Singer(s):
Giorgos Vidalis Trio
Orchestra-Performers:
Jazz band
Recording date:
1925
Recording location:
Athens
Language(s):
Greek
Publisher:
Odeon
Catalogue number:
A 154063
Matrix number:
Gο 72-2
Duration:
3:10
Item location:
Kounadis Archive Record Library
Physical description:
10 in. (25 cm)
Source:
Kounadis Archive
ID:
Odeon_A154063_Xelogiastra
Licensing:
cc
Reference link:
Kounadis Archive, "Xelogiastra", 2019, https://vmrebetiko.gr/en/item-en?id=10283
Lyrics:
(Miss Sorolop)
Σκλάβα του τρελού πασά
που ζει μέσα στα χρυσά
γέρνει στον κρυφό οντά της
κι αγροικάει το σεβντά της το μυστικό

(Mr Cornelides)
Κι ακούει κάποιο παλληκάρι που της είχε πάρει
τον νου και την καρδιά μια φορά
που κάτω απ’ το κάστρο κλαίει
και της κρυφολέει λυπητερά

(Miss Sorolop)Αχ! Ξελογιάστρα έβγα απ’ τα κάστρα
κι έλα μια νύχτα να με βρεις στην ανθισμένη χουρμαδιά
πάρε με σκλάβο γιατί δεν παύω
για σε μεράκι να ’χω πάντα στην καρδιά

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