The Roles of Singers

Roles of singers in the polyphonic structure

In polyphonic song partis has a decisive role in the result of a song, while he/she is the one that begins, that ‘takes’ the song. Depending on the sex of partis but also his/her place of origin, the tonal base of the song is altered. Depending on partis’ tonal, the rest of the team was formed in such a way so as for their voices to “suit the voices of partis”. In the mountainous regions, as Kanellatou reports, the songs performed by male, female or mixed participants were executed, in their majority, between intervals La and Do. In the lowlands the songs performed by male participants are tuned between La and Do, the songs performed by female participants between Mi and Fa and the songs performed by mixed participants in Sol (Kanellatou 2010). Partis together with yiristis express two basic lines of polyphonic assonance that are independent melodically, rhythmically and structurally, but are harmonically organized.P1018168

Yiristis (turner) or klostis (spinner) who’s usually a man, shapes jointly the song together with partis through his melismatic improvisations that, however, are organized during the singing both in the tonal selected by partis as well as in the timing that a song starts and ends. He is the one that makes the turns and ties up the voids that are created during singing. Practically, yiristis participates in the singing either at the beginning, provided that firstly partis has begun, or during the intermediary pauses of singing, or at the end of the melody in each part of the singing. The concluding at the end of individual units that are developed during the singing is particularly characteristic; yiristis has a decisive role since he is the one that creates the singing’s abrupt interruption, known as yiristis’ “cut” or “tsakisma” (bashing).

Klostis (spinner): klostis participates in the singing by improvising based on the song’s verses. Klostis’ role requires singing capacity that supports and attributes “high” registers, while klostis’ melody has wider tone breadth and extent than the one of partis and yiristis.

Richtis: Richtis participates in the singing either at the end of an hemistich giving the essential time intermission that partis needs, or at the end of the preface of the entire main verse, at which, according to Kanellatou, his/her participation is in the form of “apichima” (i.e. the reaching) it has for the polyphonic band, helping in the tonal tuning of the band. “There exist three different types of richtis’ interposing”, according to the same researcher: “the first and most usual is the melodic movement that begins from V scale [one 4th clean under the register], continues with a stop in the hypotonic [2nd big] and a final fall, again, in the dominating phoneme one 4th clean under the register. In the particular type of richtis’ interposing a “glistrima”- glissandro (slipping through) technique is observed, which is a singing way having limited use in polyphonic songs. The way that the particular melodic line is expressed is based on the exclamations: “ach och och”, “ainte vre”, “ainte nte” and “ainte mpre”. The two other types of richtis’ interposing are usually met in polyphonic songs, which are accompanied by musical instruments. The last years, the polyphonic bands also include in the role of klostis the role of yiristis”.

Isokrates are those ones that keep the tone base, on which the other melodic lines (voices) are developed creating to the listener the sense of a sad, plaintive voice. Matsas connects the particular singing expression with the social and historical conditions that prevailed in Pogoni and in Deropoli during the period that the particular type of song blossomed. As himself reports: “. … of course, because sad and distressed were those who were mostly singing; and poetry also served the same purpose….plaintive are its songs, and plaintively they were singed, in their globally rare polyphonic form, with partis keeping the main melody, richtis, klostis yiristis participating and isokrates keeping the sad tone in a way that breaks your heart”, (Matsas 1988).

The type of isokratima (ison keeping), as Kanellatou reports in her extensive study on the polyphonic song, with regard to its articulation, varies depending on the region from which the song emanates, the form and the type of the rhythm, according to which the polyphonic song is developed. There exist the following types of isokratima: 


a) the poetic text is vocalized regularly, but isokrates don’t “step on” (i.e. pronounce) evidently the consonants, b) only the vowels of text are pronounced c) the isokratima is kept only in one vowel (usually the “e” but “a, i, o” vowels are not excluded), a technique particularly useful in cases of polyphonic pieces that do not follow a concrete or constant rhythmical form. Lolis (2003), notices that in Greek-speaking and in the Albano liamptiko polyphonic song, the flow of isokratima is almost the same and it appears in two ways. In the first way, isokrates continuously keep the founding tone of the song in the vowel “e” but also in other vowels  such as “a-i-o”. The changing of vowels depends on a verse’s ending at the end
of a musical phrase or pattern. In the second way isokrates are spelling through murmuring or in a continuous manner. Isokrates follow with attention partis and spell, in the same tone, murmuring during smooth singing or ‘breaking’ in a continuous manner during the fast melodies and in the polyphonic dances that are singed. Rhetorical melodies tend to be spelled, while ariozic (i.e. proud) ones tend to be continuous. Ison keeping enters in specific points of a polyphonic song. Usually, isokrates begin singing after a specific powerful attitude of partis, during the tonal of the song or after the preface or ‘riximo’ (i.e. falling) in relevant songs. Isokrates are compelled to follow the rhythmical brilliance of partis and coincide with him/her in the basic stops (“cuts”) that he/she realizes during the melodic development of a taking. At the same time, they cover breathings gaps of partis creating, in this way, a sense of continuity in the polyphonic singing. Ison keeping, as reported by Lolis (2003), is a mass voice in the founding of the tropic scale and, similarly to bees’ hum, it follows the course of a song with the same intensity and timbre, removing from a singing any kind of discord. Isokrates’ role can be performed by both men and women; therefore isokrates’ subgroup can consist of either male, female or mixed individuals. The number of isokrates in a polyphonic band varies from 2, to 5-7 and up to 10 singers. A great number of isokrates achieves an appreciable volume in the band, called “vrontaria” (i.e. loud keeping of the vocal drone). Isokrates is important in the polyphonic team, because: a) it is one of the basic factors responsible for tuning the band and b) it constitutes the main way of induction and learning for newer members of the band, with regard to the knowledge (musical and poetic) of pieces and the collaboration in the band (intensities, tonal stability in the assonances, assiduous cuts), (Kanellatou 2010).

Prologistis: With regard to prologistis Kanellatou (2010) reports that it is: “… a role mostly for male individuals, which is performed from one of isokrates or, sometimes, by partis himself. Prologistis, using the technique of musical recitation, exposes each verse that will be singed afterwards by partis. The role of prologistis requires good memory with regard to the poetic text of each song”. Kotsou (1998), pointing out the differences between North Epirus song with that of Pogoni, reports that such a role is noticed only in the North Epirus singing but not in all of its songs. In Pogonisio, partis musically recites the first syllables of a song.



Logo Polysong 1


sitemap polysong


NOTE! This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand