Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey Into Europe's Oldest Surviving Folk Music (Hardcover)

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King is a well known musicologist and a rabid 78 rpm record collector who brings his passion for forgotten but pure music to this quirky odyssey which delves into history and traditions of a little known place called Epirus. Straddling Albania and Greece, this region is the source of a strange and hypnotic folk music which the author discovered after acquiring a few records overseas. Once he hears that the traditional songs are still played today virtually unchanged since the last century, he decides that he must go there and so begins a fascinating journey.

— From Cody's 2018 Picks


In a gramophone shop in Istanbul, renowned record collector Christopher C. King uncovered some of the strangest--and most hypnotic--sounds he had ever heard. The 78s were immensely moving, seeming to tap into a primal well of emotion inaccessible through contemporary music. The songs, King learned, were from Epirus, an area straddling southern Albania and northwestern Greece and boasting a folk tradition extending back to the pre-Homeric era. To hear this music is to hear the past.

Lament from Epirus is an unforgettable journey into a musical obsession, which traces a unique genre back to the roots of song itself. As King hunts for two long-lost virtuosos--one of whom may have committed a murder--he also tells the story of the Roma people who pioneered Epirotic folk music and their descendants who continue the tradition today.

King discovers clues to his most profound questions about the function of music in the history of humanity: What is the relationship between music and language? Why do we organize sound as music? Is music superfluous, a mere form of entertainment, or could it be a tool for survival? King's journey becomes an investigation into song and dance's role as a means of spiritual healing--and what that may reveal about music's evolutionary origins.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780393248999
ISBN-10: 0393248992
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Pages: 304
Language: English