Zournas or karamuza or pipiza is an instrument like an oboe with a doublereed. The name zournas is mainly used in Macedonia, Thrace, western Rumeli and Mytilene. Throughout the rest of Greece, it is usually called karamuza and karamutza or pipiza and pipitza. Besides variations: zornes (Cyprus), zornas (Kozani), tzournas (Lefkas), pipeza, pipitsa, pipitza, piptsa, pipe, etc., it is also called niakaro or niakara in Zakynthos and Kefalonia, and kalami in western Rumeli.We also note the former formal name: flute (aulos). “Let’s now leave away from us the ligyfthongous aulus and the thunder of tympana...”G.N.Viziinos writesin1897.
Zournas is identified withthe ancient flute (aulos) ,which as evidenced by historical, literary andart records, can be traced back to the time of Homer. According to the composer PaulKarrer, before the appearance of the clarinet in Greece, around 1830, zournas was thought to be the national flute. As Karrer characteristically mentions in his “Memoirs”, he saw“... people singing and dancing, while playing the national flute and the ‘daouli’ (folk hand drums)”. Throughout Greece and mainly in Macedonia ,there are many wall paintings and representations of Biblical scenes where zournas and daouli standout in large Byzantine and post-Byzantine compositions. Almost none of “philhellenes” and foreign travelers such as Pouqueville R. Chandler ,and Lord Byron could easily listen to the zournas. Phoebus Anogianakis writes respectively in his monumental work on Greekfolk music instruments: “Having a different music core education,all these foreign ersare unableto adapt to themelodic, rhythmic and generally in the sound climate of Greek folk music. For Pouqueville suddenly the zournas is a noisy instrument. Βut if you haven’t set up the foundations of Bacchantism, Orphismand Kavyreia and if you have not followed the foot steps of Alexander and have not lived the Byzantine Hippodrome, how could zournas and daouli could not be ‘noisy instruments’to you?”.
Zournas were manufacturedin various sizes, from about 22 to 60cm., and of various woods: beech, cherry, walnut, olive, blackberry, bearberry, apricot, loquat, heather, maple, and rarely ebony. It is even made of wafer (thinbrassplate), so as not to breakeasily, although, as folk musicians confess, the quality of the sound is not as good compared to the wooden zournas.Today, we can find the smallest zournas in western Roumeli-the famous fine zournadia of Messolonghi- and the largest, producing a deeper bass sound, in Macedonia.
In Imathia and generally in Macedonia, zournas is found in two different sizes. The first one is short, 35 cm. length, and is found only in Naoussa. The second one is long, up to 65 cm.length, and is found both in Central, and Eastern Macedonia, and in Heraklion area (Tzoumagias) of Serres. In the rest of Greece, zournas, havea length of about30-40cm. Generally the longer a zournas is, the deeper is the sound he produces.
Each zournas usually consists of three basic parts:
A. the main zournas, i.e. the body of the instrument which ends up in a funnel shape, called tatara.
B. The “thief” (kleftis), also called pistomio, head board or mana.
C. The pip’ nar’, caneli or pisca with chabuna or chabnar’.
The main body of zournas is made of various woods, according the view of the the zournas player, who is usually the manufacturer as well.
After choosing the wood and before processing it, they used to boil it in water with salt or ashes, in low heat, so as not to crack during processing. Nowadays zournas is manufactured on a lathe, mechanically. Before 1970, its construction was an arduous and time consuming task, since all had to be done by hand, using knives, razors and glass for polishing. The even reaming of the inside was a separate process, conducted with a hot iron, and which could last many hours.
The pipe of zournas -slightly conical usually, but sometimes also cylindrical- ends up in a more or less wide funnel (or bell or tatara). It is made of dry wood without knots, so as to withstand use and weather changes, and its wall must be even and thin. The latter contributes to the purity, intensity and quality of the sound. Today, if the pipe of zournas cracks, they wrap it tightly in a bubble (vesicle) they get from a slaughtered animal. In time, the bubble dries and becomes one with the wood, so as to protect it from future cracks.
In the upper part of the pipe they put the thief, which must be applied thoroughly to avoid losing any air during blowing. The thief, also called mana, headboard, or pistomio or pistomi (Macedonia), fasoulas (western Rumeli) etc., is usually made of boxwood, but also of other woods (cedar, sour orange, olive, etc.).
On the thief they adjust the caneli with the chabuna. Caneli or cannuliorcarneliis a thin, wafer-made, cylindricaltube, on which they tie the reed tongue, the chabuna. Chabuna is also called: chibon(Pontus), chapuni or chabuni (Peloponnesus), pipini(Volos, Livadia), pipigki(Rumeli) pipinari(Yidas), pisca (Asvestochori, Thessaloniki).
The instrument’s reed tongue is the permanentconcern of everyzournas player: when helooks for the reeds, whatreeds he will chooseand what preparation is required until he starts making the tongue of the instrument, all these have a long tradition despite differences from placeto place. “Tongues” are made from common reed, which is best forcreating this section of the zournas. Its diameter must be 5-10 mm and it is usually gathered from the banks of Aliakmonas, Loudias and Axios, usually during September and October.
A component of zournasis the Fourla, a disc of bone, metal-often a silver coin- or wood. Drilled in the center, which they passthrough the reed and leave “to siton the thief”. While playing, the zournas play errests his lipson the Four laand this helps it to blow easier. The Fourla, although morphologically different, works like the maresin the ancient flute.
Zournas or Karamouza or pipiza has seven holes on the front, usually circular ,equally distanced from each other, and one hole behind, for the thumb. Of the 7+1holes for the fingers, the zournas still has other holes in the bottom of its bell. These holes, which are never pressed but always stay open, affect the tonality of the instrument and the sound quality. Closing them lowers the tonescale of the instrument and alters the accuracy of the scale’s intervals and the color of the sound.Their number varies from 1 to 10, according to the tradition of the region and to the acoustic sensitivity and the skillfulness of the person that manufactures and plays the zournas it variesfrom1 to 10. The number of open holes at the bottom of the zournas is proportional tot he length of the instrument.
The reed isforthe musician a living body, not only organic extension of language, but mainly of senses and of his degree of knowledge and sensitivity.In playing the zournas the reed fully enters the mouth. By blowing he two edges of the reed are pulsed, meaning they open and close so that they hit each other, generating the sound.Typical is the technique of simultaneous in halation and exhalation of air, technique used by competent zournas’ players. The zournas player while still playing, simultaneously in hales air from the nose, which stores in the oral cavity, to uses hortly,replacing it with a new air, without stopping for a moment “blowing”, i.e. playingh is instrument. Before starting to play, the zournas player keeps the reed for a while in the mouth to soak. Sometimes hewets it with a little water or wine.
The range of the diatonic scale that zournas can produce isan octave and two tones. However, if he blows stronger and with firmly tightened lips, a competent zournas player can produce many more tones, which is not done very often, though, because it requires a very tiring way of blowing. As happens with the flute, the height of the tone scale depends on the length of the zournas, and the dimensions of th ereed. By means of proper fingering and suitable blowing, a competent zournas player can eliminate while playing any manufacturing defects of the instrument and -when he has inside him the tradition of folk melody- he can produce the intervals of the natural rather than the tempered scale.
With its acute, penetrating ound, zournas is an instrumentforopenspace.There, at the festival or feastin the village square, the wild charm, as one could describe it, and the sweetness of its sound, can express perhaps more than any other popular instrument, the style and the “ethos” of the folk part of Greece’s mainland.Inplayingthezournas we do not have dynamic fluctuations. In this monophonic instrument, the zournas player constantly beautifies the melody with trills, appoggiaturas and other musical or naments, with accents that he produces with the appropriate blowing and by passing one of his finger above all the holes of the instrument.
The zournas is always played alongside the daouli (hand-drum). These two instruments arethe traditional instrumental ensemble of the Greek mainland. Usually, we meet a zournas and a daouli playing, or two zournas and a daouli. When playing two zournas, the zournas player playing the melody iscalled master or primadoros, and the other, who holds theequal-usuallythe tonicscale in which the master plays the melody-bassadoros or setter-. Aside fromequal, the bassadoros,when competent, playssome melodic phrases alongside the master as well. In order for the two zournas to match -i.e. to give sounds of matching sharpness- they usually shorten or leng then one of them, ramming deeper or pulling out the reed or the thief of the zourna.
According to the musicologist Phoebus Anoyanakis, the zournas is “underminded”, so to say, from the people,“in Imathia and through out Macedonia”, because people usually don’t say “I will bring the zournas or the zournas came”, but “I will bring the daouli(a) or the daouli(a) are here”. Even if there are two zournas and one daouli, the daouli still characterizes the deal, and, surprisingly, in plural: “the daoulia”.
THE STORY OF THE FIRST ZOURNA PLAYER OF NAOUSSA
Dimitris Vogiatzis was a great zournas player and indeed the first one in Naoussa, also known as “Mitros Chaivanos”.
Dimitris Vogiatzis was born in Naoussa 1870. He was known in local history as the only zourna player from Naoussa who played zourna for Boules before the 2nd World War. The people of Naoussa knew him mainly by the nickname Mitros Chaivanos”. He started playing zourna at a young age, when he was 20 years old. He got his zourna from a Turk who probably taught him. None of his brothers of Mitros played music. Dimitris Boyatzis acquired five children, namelly: Chris, Thanasis, John, Evdoxia and Nick. None of his children ever worked as a professional musician. His eldest son tried to learn zourna but did not succeed very well and gave up. However, sometimes he accompanied his father on the tabor.
Mitros before the triode built the “piskes” for the zourna. He would prepare many of them. For each dance he would have another one.
When the triode would start, wealthy people, such as Lanaras, as well as various clubs of the city, such as butchers, would invite him to play at their feasts. He would take as a fee whatever the people gathered at the feast would donate.
Mitros Chaivanos did not collaborate with other zourna players, playing everything on his own and as far as we know, he would never play at weddings.
Stephanis Nanou, (1865-1937) who played the tabor with Mitros Chaivanos and came from the Meliki Veria. His brother Dimitri Nanos playing the bagpipes at Gida. Stephanis sometimes played zourna as well.
Dimitris Vogiatzis left as an immigrant to America around 1911-1912 and stayed there ten years. When he returned in 1922 to Naoussa he continued again playing zourna for his great love, Boules.
In 1940 Mitros suffered a stroke. After the stroke, he could not speak clearly and had trouble moving, but could still blow the zourna. That year to go on Carnival, they put him on a donkey and he played the Boules on the donkey. The passionate soul of this man was so attached to the custom that despite the serious problem with his health and he could not even talk, he came to play the zourna. The elders of Naoussa still remember him riding the donkey and playing not with his mouth and hands but with his soul! Two years after Dimitri Vogiatzis or Mitros Chaivanos, the favorite musician of Naoussa died at the age of 72 years.