Greek Traditional Music and Instruments

Greek music and dance have a very long history.  In ancient Greece, music was performed to accompany poetry or plays.  Some Greek folk dance rhythms are taken from the poetic metre from ancient dramas.  During Christian times and up until the present,  instrumental music, dance and song have been important parts in special events and holidays like baptisms, saints’ days, engagements, weddings, and harvest festival, Easter and May Day.  Wherever Greek people gather, there is music and songs.

Many Greek dances are done in large groups at big community celebrations. Dances are done in circles or in lines. There are over 4,000 traditional Greek dances!

Traditional instruments from Greece include the plucked stringed instrument called a bouzouki from the lute family, a kind of bagpipe known as a gaida made of sheep or goat hide, and toumbi a kind of large double-headed drum played with sticks.

Greek Children’s Songs (click on the link to hear a Greek children’s song)

Greek people love singing and passing on their culture to children. Popular children’s songs include:

Αδελφος Ιακωβος

Brother James

Καλήν εσπέραν άρχοντες

Christmas Carol

Παλαμάκια παίξετε

Clap Your Hands

Έλα ύπνε μου, πάρε το

Come, Good Sleep

Έλα ύπνε μου κ’έλα ‘Γειά

Come, Sleep, Come, Health

Βρε καλό, στο καλό να ‘χη

Ho, Hail and He May Prosper

Νάνι του ρήγα το παιδί

Hush, Son of the King

Βρέχει, χιονίζει

It’s Raining, It’s Snowing

‘Εχω γυιό και έχω χαρά

I’ve a Son and I’m Glad


Little Rabbit

Μην κάνετε κανένα θόρυβο

Make No Noise

Φεγγαράκι μου λαμπρό

My Little Shining Moon

Το παιδάκι μου το ρούσσο

My Rosy Child

Βρέξε βρέξε Παναγιά μου

Rain, Rain, Dear Virgin



Κοιμήσου, χαδεμένο μου

Sleep, My Darling

Ο ύπνος τρέφει τα μωρά

Sleep Nurtures Babies

Κούνια – μπέλα

Swing, (My) Pretty

Να μου το πάρης, Ύπνε μου

Take Him in Charge, Kind Sleep

Το παιδί θέλει χορό

The Child Wants to Dance

Κοιμάτ’ο κούκκος στα βουνά κ’ η πέρδικα στα δάση

The Cuckoo Sleeps

Να χορέψη θέλ’ η κόρη (η θε τ’αγόρι)

The Girl (or Boy) Wants to Dance0

The Rose is Sleeping Beside the Marjoram



Ένα νερό, κυρά Βαγγελιώ

Water, Lady Vangeline

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