4. THE ‘ROADS’ and THE TAXIMIA (p. 270 in Greek edition)
And now let’s come to the European style tuning. The open strings are Re-La-Re and with this tuning we play all the ‘roads’, the Sabah, Niaventi, Hejaz, Houzam, Chiourdi, and Peiraiotiko - which is a bit like Hejaz.
Q: What makes it different from Hejaz?
A: Nothing much. You’d have to be a proper musician to be able to tell. I can’t tell you what makes something Hejaz and what makes it Peiraiotiko. Domenikos my son who goes to the Odeon (College of Music) knows all these things, but Stelios wouldn’t. Another ‘road is Rast, Hijaskiar, Usak. There are still more ‘roads’ but I wouldn’t know others. I don’t remember.
Q: Have you heard the Houssaini?
A: I know of it, I’ve heard it. I don’t remember it … don’t remember if it’s major or minor. Probably it’s like Peiraiotiko, major.
Q: The Set Arabenne?
A: I’ve heard it, I know of it. The late Karipis taught it me. I don’t know how to play it though. It’s from before my time.
Q: The Neva?
A: Yes I’ve heard it but I didn’t play it. Samiotakis (ie Kostas Roukounas presumably) has sung it many times. The other old guys who came before me used to say ‘play us a Neva. I’ve heard it but I wouldn’t remember how to sing it.
Q: The Siirf Hijaskiar?
A: I’ve heard it of course. Peristeris played it. Lots of people did. And of course I even have songs in Siirf Hijaskiar but I don’t remember this thing at all now. I wrote them before the war when I was bringing out records. I wrote songs in Siirf hijaskiar. They may still exist - if I hear them I guess I’ll remember them eh? I haven’t learnt other ‘roads’. Most of the roads I do know them. Other bouzouki players don’t know them. There are about sixty or seventy of these ‘roads’, These things are Turkish or Egyptian.
Q: What role do the taximia and the ‘roads’ play in the making of the music?
A: Well let’s take this one now for example. It’s Niaventi - it starts out from the taximi that’s Niaventi. The taximi is the beginning. There’s a violin playing and it plays the Niaventi ‘road’.
Q: Are the taximi and the ‘roads’ the same?
A: Each ‘road’, the Niaventi, the Rast, Hijaz, etc has its own taximi. The taximi is something you play and that’s that. But a ‘road’ is a ‘road’.
Q: Isn’t the taximi influenced by the song you’re going to play after it?
A: Of course, the taximi is affected by whatever tune you’re about to play. For instance, supposing I’m about to play Frangosyriani, (‘The Frankosyran girl’), that makes a difference to the taximi. You hear that it’s Niaventi.
Q: Like, you mean, you start off Frangosyriani with another Niaventi?
A: No it’s not ‘another’ Niaventi. The Niaventi is all one thing.
Q: Right, so let’s take Frangosyriani and Ta matokladha sou lampoun. (‘Your eye lashes gleam’). Both are in the Niaventi ‘road’. You’ll start first with the taximi and then you’ll sing the Frangosyriani. After that you’ll do Ta Matokladha sou Lampoun, but first the taximi and then the song. Will that taximi be the same?
A: The same, identical, it doesn’t change in the slightest. It’ll only change depending on whether the rhythm is 9/8 or 2/4. 2/4 is chasapiko and 9/8 is zebekiko.
Q: Are there certain ‘roads’ that work better for chasapiko while others work better with zebekiko?
A: No, it’s the same. In Hijaz you can do chasapiko, you can also do zebekiko. In Niaventi, chasapiko and zebekiko. Same with all the ‘roads’.