Sunday, October 14, 2012

Intercultural Dialogue 1 | Fusing your (musical) life

Opening this new path for "music and culture" expression, the chosen timing brings me to
what happened to me last night, being in a nice cafe  in Valencia for a music concert under the title "Mediterranean musics"
Although arrived almost at the end, found a position at the second table in front of the small scene.
I know that the specific musician I was going to listen to, loves Greece and greek songs, my origin's music culture, so i was relaxed, talking and drinking and laughing as usual, while listening... His main corpus of his concert, is made from old songs the previous generation in my country was listening to, a mixture of quite familiar sounds, even old-fasioned i would say.
Then some Spanish people just behind us, made to us this "shhh" gesture means "quiet".
This is a cultural difference. A normal misunderstanding. It is never like these in a Greek "glenti" (fiesta). I should have talked to them about it, but i showed respect to their, hopefully, reason of being there, which should be, the need to listen to kind of "different musics". But they miss the cultural context, on the other hand.
Gathering around at a nice "taverna", with some friends, good plates and drinks, always brings us to what is named as "tsakir kefi" (tsakir keyif in Turkish). After a while, the most common and natural to happen, is standing up and start dancing. And it is what exactly it happened, too, there. After some seconds i was watching shaking bodies trying to cope with the rythms (non greek bodies), and some other very confident (few greek ones), looking each other, laughing, and mixing their arms as they were dancing. In a minute i was up, too, to dance.
Not that  there are no strict cultural contexts in Greek traditional music culture. Even during some dancing events. But this music 'for' entertainment is never heard like you were at a concert hall. 
Today, recalling the fact and discussing it with a friend that actually wasn't there, remembered an entire different situation, not in Spain, but in Greece, this time. 
Going back to 2008, in a Cretan village, i was happy to experience a traditional village 15th August celebration of Holy Mary. The whole square was full of long table arrows, and in a central point, a small stage for musicians. The "glenti" started, and after eating, each family should stand up and dance in a specific prearranged order. The name of the family was being announced by a microphone. No other one had the right to dance. So all the visitors, as expected, we were waiting the time to pass, until the "pista" (dancing space) would be available for us. 
When our turn came,we started walking among the tables, together with other people, to reach the stage. Suddenly i see one young cretan guy, in front of my "path", having extend his legs like saying "you won't pass, i won't take my legs". He was wearing the traditional cretan custom. And it seems he felt qute unfamiliar with some visitors at the "borders" of this fiesta. Finally found a different side to reach the dancing place. 
On stage, together with the old masters with the moustache, you could hear the amazing lyra playing of a young woman, revolutionary for a society almost (!) traditional. (with men dominated orchestras).

This is a changing world. According to my opinion,  this guy during his effort of showing social "power", showed no respect or flexibility,too, while i think i had shown, at least more, being inside his own culture.
But this is maybe an interpretation of me. Like the interpretation of this Spanish musician, of how the "Greek music" can be played, and the one of this spanish woman, of how the "greek music" can be listened to. Is this a real intercultural dialogue? Or not? Cultures maybe co-exist, but other times ignore each other, other times misinterpret each other, and some other times, melting themselves into something new. Having an eye for cultural relativism, too, is a good point of departure if we really want to have a deeper look on who is living next to us.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe the venue is significant, too. Sometimes this could differentiate a "glenti" from a concert.

    However, if you ended up dancing, this was a... "glenti"-in-the-closet, not a concert. It's just that, as you point out, non-Greeks wouldn't tell the difference.