#247: The Music of the Ancients

Imagine there’s a place where music exists as it was first created, thousands and thousands of years ago, a place where song and dance still glued communities together across generations. That place exists: Epirus, a little pocket of northwestern Greece on the border with Albania. There, in scattered mountain villages, people still practice a musical tradition that predates Homer. This week, we’re revisiting our interview with Christopher King, an obsessive record collector—and Grammy-winning producer and musicologist—who goes on an odyssey to uncover Europe’s oldest surviving folk music, and spins us some rare 78s.

Go beyond the episode:

  • Episode page, with R. Crumb’s original illustrations
  • Christopher King’s Lament from Epirus
  • Buy LPs, CDs, or MP3s of Chris’s Epirotic collections, from Five Days Married and Other Laments to Why the Mountains Are Black
  • Read Christopher King’s Paris Review essay, “Talk About Beauties,” about the lost recordings of Alexis Zoumbas
  • Listen to A Lament for Epirus (1926–1928) by Alexis Zoumbas on Spotify

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Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman. Other music in this episode graciously provided by Christopher King.

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