Antidushmani em LisboaDuets with Estelle Amy de la Bretèque (my wife). We play these songs primarily for ourselves and for friends. They are in Greek Russian, Romanian and occasionally Turkish. Some have known composers, others don't. The arrangements are usually our own.

The recordings in this category are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.



The main instrument here is a kaval in B flat, beautifully carved in cane wood by Lucas Fovet.   

Recording session

Recording session
The original tune (first two parts) is a hora  from Romanian Moldavia. It was played to me on violin by Neculai Andriescu from Cordăreni. I added two other melodic parts and a bass-chords accompaniment, trying to reproduce the harmonic feeling of the small amplified ensembles of lăutari (Roma professional musicians) from that region. I owe a special debt in this respect to the Panţiru family from Zece Prăjini, who patiently shared with me their views on music-making over the years. Costică, Didic, Cipi, Gabai, te aven bahtale! Şunta başaibe rapanitico akial sar aştiauas li me.  


A video of the recording session and some technical info are available in this other post.

Reginald Gray - Girl and Lemon Tree - 2010.

Reginald Gray - Girl and Lemon Tree - 2010.
Kondoula lemonia is a Greek traditional song from Epirus. The lyrics compare the beloved woman to a lemon tree (lemonia - λεμονιά is feminine in Greek).

Little lemon tree (Μωρη κοντούλα λεμονιά), full of lemons (με τα πολλά λεμόνια), I kissed you and I became ill (σε φίλησα κι αρρώστησσα), but I didn't call the doctor (και το γιατρό δε φώναξα).

Lower your branches (Χαμήλωσε τους κλώνους σου), so that I can cut a lemon (να κόψω ένα λεμόνι) and drink its juice (για να το στύψω να το πιω), to cure my illness (να μου διαβούν οι πόνοι).

Handsome guy with dark hair

Handsome guy with dark hair
Three songs in one. The lyrics (in Greek) are sung from a woman's perspective. She keeps thinking about a handsome man with dark hair who lives in a house nearby and haunts her dreams at night... The second part of the song says: "Since people say that you're a good guy, please love me!"

The arrangement of this suite/song is inspired by a recording from Sophia Kollitiri. We tried to emphasize its "psychedelic" kind of vibe. Recording was done in Ardour. Bouzouki and voice were recorded with a microphone, the other instruments were played on a keyboard driving Linuxsampler.

The fusta (aka skirt)

The fusta (aka skirt)
We usually play this tune acoustic, with bouzouki, frame drum and voice. It comes from an old album by Sofia Kollitiri and Makis Xristodolopoulos.

Here's an "electric" version inspired by the joyfully citric sounds of electro-saz and similar genres in the Balkans. Ingredients:

  • One singer (here, Estelle), singing in short stanzas punctuated by the instruments.
  • An amplified lute, with distorsion and maybe some fantastic effect. Here I used an electric bouzouki, slightly mashed through the stereo flanger of the Calf plugins.
  • A drum-machine (or of a human drummer striving to be as stable, precise and monotonous as a drum machine). I used the very good Salamander drumkit which plays through Linuxsampler.
  • Maybe a synthesizer. We wanted to keep it simple, so here there's just a sampled bass to give some depth to the harmony.

Electro-saz & co. are performed primarily live, in dancing settings. They support a lot of motivic improvisation, on both the voice and the lute. Here the tracks are recorded and mixed in Ardour DAW.

The rhythm is 3+2+2 in 7/8 meter. Fusta means "skirt" in both Greek and Romanian. The lyrics praise the effects of "Your skirt, Hellene", which sets the neighborhood on fire while you dance on the tables...

Voice, kaval and tambourine. Music and lyrics composed by Sofia Kollitiri.

A mother adresses her child, evoking the sacrifices she went through for him, lamenting that he now left to live far away, and promising that she would always welcome him back, if ever he felt homesick. In brief, deep pathos!

La şalul cel negru

La şalul cel negru
Voice and guitar. This is quite typical of the repertoire of Gypsy professional musicians in Romania (the lăutari). It was recorded famously by Dona Dumitru Siminică. Our version is (by far) more minimalist, but tries to capture nevertheless a similar ambiance of nostalgia.

The lyrics portray a male narrator remembering how he used to love a young and beautiful woman, without noticing that she was in love with another... The last line is : "Because in those times / I easily believed in love / And didn't even know / What suffering really meant" (Căci atuncea lesne / În amor credeam / Și nenorocirea / Nici n-o cunoșteam).

Voice and bouzouki. In Greek, tzivaeri is the name of a light wind. The lyrics are about exile, longing and "black destiny".