Greek Folk Dance Music: The Ultimate Guide

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


This guide provides an in-depth look at Greek folk dance music, including its history, instruments, and popular dances.

What is Greek Folk Dance Music?

Greek folk dance music is the traditional music of the Greek people. It is often characterized by a strong rhythm, clear melody, and simple harmony. The most common instruments used in Greek folk dance music are the violin, clarinet, and accordion.

Greek folk dances are usually performed in groups, with each dancer performing a specific role. The most common Greek folk dances are the syrtos, kalamatianos, and sirtaki.

Greek folk dance music has its origins in the music of the Byzantine Empire. During the Ottoman occupation of Greece (1453-1821), Ottoman influences were added to the music, resulting in a unique blend of East and West. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Greek folk dance music underwent a revival as part of the wider nationalist movement. Today, Greek folk dance music is enjoyed by people all over the world.

History of Greek Folk Dance Music

The history of Greek folk dance music is a long and storied one, with the genre playing an important role in the country’s cultural heritage.

Greek folk dance music can be traced back to ancient times, when the country was Split between two regions: the Peloponnese and Macedonia. In the Peloponnese region, music and dance were used as a way to worship the gods, while in Macedonia, they were used for more practical purposes such as weddings and other celebrations.

As Greece began to form its own identity in the centuries that followed, folk dance music slowly began to emerge as its own distinct genre. In the 19th century, with the rise of nationalism, Greek folk dance music started to gain popularity as a way to promote the country’s culture and history.

Today, Greek folk dance music is still an important part of the country’s identity, with many traditional dances being performed at weddings and other special occasions. If you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating genre of music, keep reading for our ultimate guide!

The Different Types of Greek Folk Dance Music

Greek folk dance music is divided into two main categories: syrto and kalamatiano. Syrto is a more uptempo, fast-paced style of music while kalamatiano is slower and more relaxed. Within these two categories, there are subgenres that further break down the style of Greek folk music. For example, syrto may be subdivided into hasapiko and pidikhtos while kalamatiano may be subdivided into mainsti and stivala.

How to Dance to Greek Folk Dance Music

Dancing to Greek folk music is not difficult, but it does take some practice. The first step is to listen to the music and get a feel for the rhythm. Once you have the rhythm down, you can start to learn the steps.

There are many different types of Greek folk dances, but they all have one thing in common: they are danced in a circle. The most important part of dancing is to keep your feet moving and your body in rhythm with the music. As you become more comfortable with the steps, you can start to add your own flare and style to the dance.

One of the most popular Greek folk dances is called the syrtaki. This dance originates from the island of Crete and is danced by couples who hold each other close and move their feet in a quick, sliding motion. Another popular dance is called the zeibekiko, which is danced by men only. This dance originated in Asia Minor and is characterized by wild, acrobatic moves.

If you want to learn how to dance to Greek folk music, there are many resources available online and in bookstores. Once you get started, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to pick up the steps and how much fun you can have dancing to this lively music.

Greek Folk Dance Music Festivals

Festivals dedicated to Greek folk dance music are held throughout Greece and the Greek diaspora, usually in the summer months. The most famous and well-attended festival is the Panhellenic Song Festival, held every five years in Athens. The next one is scheduled for 2020. Other significant festivals include the Nafplio Festival, held annually in May or June in the town of Nafplio; the Paxoi Festival, held every two years on the Paxoi Islands; and the Ionian Islands Music Festival, held every four years on one of the Ionian Islands.

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