Museum of popular greek musical instruments

Museum of popular greek musical instruments (21)

How many different musical instruments can you name? Ten? Thirty? Fifty? Forget everything you think you know, because this museum is going to take you by surprise.

Opened in 1991 as a study centre and museum, this place exhibits more than 1200 instruments that the famous Cretan musician Phoebus Anogianákis donated to the Greek state in the late 70s. Not content with this vast collection of instruments, the museum has expanded its collection over the years, and its three exhibition floors are now packed.

One of the strengths of the Museum of Popular Greek Musical Instruments is its educational and interactive nature. Do not expect to be able to play the instruments. If every visitor played them, not only would it drive the museum workers crazy, but the instruments would soon get damaged. In any case, that is not what the museum is about. Headphones are installed next to the instruments so that visitors can listen to the type of sound they make or the kind of music they are used to play.

This space takes you on a journey through the history of Greek popular music, its different styles and its evolution, but also through the geography of Greek music, since some instruments are unique to just a few regions and others are no longer used.

Before your visit to the museum, it is important to know that the basement houses the wind section, where you will hear the distinctive sound of the tsampoúna, a Greek bagpipe made of goatskin.

Downstairs, church bells and chimes, cowbells, water whistles and wooden clappers are given the honourable status of musical instruments. When you listen to the recordings, you will be surprised at the melodies that emanate from them when they are played with a little skill and talent.

Although the top floor houses instruments from all families, it is the string instruments that take centre stage. You can listen to music performed with the Cretan lyra and see several samples, as well as the famous baglamas and bouzouki, similar to guitars and used to play traditional music known as Rempétika.

Entry to the museum is free, and even if you do not know much about music, the experience is rather curious. Perhaps you will go in without knowing what an idiophone, a membranophone or a chordophone are, but you will find out not only that they exist, but how they sound and what type of music they are used to play. The spectacular colours and bizarre materials will also catch your eye at times.

If Greek popular music has stolen your heart, the museum shop has sheet music, records and books, plus some small instruments such as piccolos and whistles to imitate the sound of birds. If you plan to buy one, keep this in mind: be careful, because if you overuse a whistle, your travel companions may end up burying you in the ruins of the Acropolis.

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