Abstracts of issue 5-6 (1987)

Panayiota-Hara Christara

Greek Lullabies

Lullabies are functional folk songs, assisting a child to fall asleep and the adult performing it to express her feelings towards it. Lullabies are sung by women only. Regarding their place in the folk music of Greece, they belong to the lyric songs of the cycle of life.
This article shows the characteristics and peculiarities of Greek lullabies, examining a given registered corpus.
An analysis of their musical and textual structure and their mutual relations as well as the study of their variants and the insertion of this repertory in a geographical, historical, social and cultural context, permits us to draw certain conclusions, concerning our approach of the subject.
We tend, that is, towards a certain kind of typology of the lullabies examined, which gives evidence to the existence of two opposed groups (types A and B), encountered all over the country, but related to the extreme cases: a lullaby from Corfu and another from Asia Minor. The lullabies of the type A tend to a ditonic or tritonic character, an ambitus smaller than a perfect fifth, regular rhythm, syllabic character, musical strophes coinciding with poetical lines, verses without caesurae and the absence of a refrain. Lullabies of the type B show a tendency for semitonic modes (either diatonic or chromatic), larger ambitus (at least a perfect fifth), free rhythm, melismatic character, musical strophes coinciding with two or four poetical lines, political verses and, at times, the existence of a refrain. Common characteristics in the two types are the monodic character, modality and their isometric structure, as regard the relation of musical and poetic unities.