Everything is sound, and everything is music. That’s it.
Everyone in the band are really nice, humble people. They want to share what they know and they really enjoy playing music. If you let them they will play throughout the whole day. This is what they are. They enjoy playing music. No matter if it is a concert, a wedding or a street parade. They just enjoy playing together. Of course they have to eat and rest, but when they are performing they forget about everything else.
Though they mainly perform in Greece, they often play for a wider audience with diverse backgrounds and nationalities, such as Kinisi. The difference between performing for a Greek audience and a broader European one is, according to Vasilis, the level of affectation the audience displays. Whilst Greek listeners react with strong displays of emotion, Europeans will be inquisitive and wanting to learn and understand the music.
On the island of Ikaria young boys looked on waiting for their moment to join the dance, and elderly men danced together as if there were no women to be found. Later, in Naxos, young girls shared jokes under their breath as the crowd listened to the tsabouna's exhales and grown women giggled at the lyrics of a song they knew well from the voice of an unknown player. In ports, on boats, in cars trundling over rough road (hear below) and under the dappled light of deciduous trees, the sound of the tsabouna was everywhere.
Some time later we found out he had died of cancer and I realised how powerful recordings can be. I cried for half an hour. I wanted to try and find his family so we could give them the recording, but there are so many people in Bosnia with the same name. But one day I may start from the top of the phonebook, you know. But this is why I do it – to record and preserve these strange and powerful moments.
Kinisi Festival of Sound brings together artists, some of who's practice centres on performing within particular social contexts, with artists creating alternative spaces for listening and combining sounds.
RS: What we're doing is true to the tradition of bringing people into intimate spaces to listen to music together. And although it involves some electronic instruments, and some people work with sound rather than music, strictly, it's to create intimate listening environments, where the audience and the performers are very close to one another and are interacting with each other.
AM: There are also different folk musics involved in the festival, and the idea is allow those folk musics to be heard in a way which is true to the way they should be heard. We're focused on organising concerts which aren't stage based, so the audience is participating in the performance, and feels their own participation in it.
An important part of the process involves research trips across Greece and the Balkans, to meet, hear, see and experience music in the context in which it usually emerges.
RS: When we do our research trips we make soundscape albums. We record environmental sounds, and we record people talking to us, and our own thoughts about the environments, and snippets of music. Some of it's from the bus, some of it's from people playing, some of it's from a mobile phone ringing. And we put it all together into a composition and album, hoping to sell them so that the money can go back into the festival and help us fund the festival.
Our two previous editorials featured conversations with Bulgarian musicians: Ivan Shopov and Cvetelin Andreev from the Kaynak Pipers Band. The journey of their most recent research trip took the Mazi Collective by train from Sofia to Belgrade. Next week we follow in their footsteps, and meet with Serbian composer Igor Cubrilovic, who will be performing with the Serbian Women's Choir "Bajke".
You know what kaynak means? In Turkish it means spring, source, where the water comes out. They say: “Go to kaynak to fetch water.” So it means source, and in the bagpipe tradition in the Rhodope Mountains they say: “This is his kaynak, this is his source.” And it describes the state of the musician when he plays his own things, and he plays really well, and you recognise him by hearing only this aspect - this is him. Often that they are really fast tunes, really from the soul and he is just a transmitter, and he receives it and it is transmitted through the fingers – the kaynak. This is a musician.
The most important part is the whole picture, the journey, the people, the stories you hear, the stories you tell them, they way the people approach you, the way people see the world through their eyes. I like to explore these little details because I come from a really small place, so for me the beauty is in the detail.”
We have built Kinisi Festival over the past three years. Since 2012 we have been traveling throughout Greece and the Balkans to meet each and every participant in person. When you go in search of music and sounds you find people and stories. We have found a great many, and sometimes the very same story retold, the versions criss-crossing like the wires tangled around many a Balkan lamp-post. Here we have a small selection of the pictures and sounds that best capture our experiences so far. This year we will be posting from Bulgaria, Romania, and – once again – from Albania and Greece, during our final journey in preparation for Kinisi Festival 2016. Take a more thorough look here.