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Lignos Dimitris | Ikaria | Biographical data
• Place of birth

Kambos, Ikaria
• Year of birth

1949
• Short biography

Dimitris Lignos is originally from Ikaria. He is an amateur musician, with formal training in music, and plays the guitar, the lute (and the lafta). He and his family lived in Nafplio since 1983, and he moved to Ikaria permanently in 2000.

On his relationship with music, he says:: «[…] Basically, I was never a professional musician. I’m self-employed, I’m a manufacturer, I make awnings, that sort of thing […]. I have a shop where I sell [...] I make the awnings and I also sell musical instruments. […] [Of course], my whole family plays music […]. Both my children have studied music. One of my daughters is a guitar teacher, she’s studied the classical guitar and the theory, of course. The other, the younger one, took the piano, and she’s an actress […]. We have a Conservatory in […] the Anagennisi Conservatory in Athens – my first cousin is Timotheos Lignos […]».

He began playing music in 1962: «In 1962 I began playing music. It began with my other grandfather. My mother’s father. My grandfather, you see, he went and bought me a guitar and took me to a music school over there. To a music school over there, and I began to learn music in 1962. I took classical guitar, I studied the classical guitar».

On learning to play the lute, he said: «Well, regarding the lute, my mother made the first move. She bought me a lute as a present and sent in to me when I was in Nafplio, around 1985 […] I looked for a teacher for the lute, because I couldn’t even tune it […]. And I found one in Tripoli [and] I used to go every week. I’d go to the Lykeio Ellinidon and musicians would come down from Athens every Sunday, and teach traditional music. And that’s where I found a lad, who was a very good lutenist, and he showed me a few things, and I started from there».

With regards to learning the lafta: «[…] I was interested in Byzantine music […]. Again, this began in Nafplio. Sinopoulos and some of his associates came to Nafplio for an event, and that was the first time I heard the Constantinople lute. I liked it very much […] The lafta, as it’s known, the Constantinople lute. After getting some information from him, I started looking for a lafta […]. Finally, a compatriot who plays the violin tells me: ‘There’s a guy from back home in Athens, he’s in an association that teaches Byzantine music and instrument-making, and they make such instruments’. So I go and find him and we become acquainted, and later I join their association. I took classes in Byzantine music and learnt the lafta there.»

On his musical performances, he says: «Well, I’ve played in clubs. I used to play in Plaka [Athens], at the time of the “New Wave”, that sort of thing […]. No, no, no bands. We had bands around, when? […] I guess around 1967 […]. 1966-1965, around then, there were bands, the modern bands of that time […] each neighbourhood had its own bands. We used to play in cinemas, in those days […]. Well, in ’67 we broke up our band […]. “Lizard”, lizards, [was the name], something like that. That was the band’s name, and it was a band we had in Nea Ionia […]. So, well, by the time I came here in 2000, I was already sort of advanced on the lute, and so I began doing a few things over here, and I joined a little band with Lefteris, Skantzakas, and we hung out together for a couple of years, and I’d go play with him at the festivals […]. I made a record [too], with new songs. I wanted to make songs about Ikaria. I have a friend […] we’ve been friends for almost 20 years. He was born in Athens and he’s originally from Kalamata, in Messinia. He’s a lyricist, he’s very good at writing lyrics […]I asked him, and he wrote me songs about Ikaria, based on my descriptions, on books I’d take [him] […]. And he ended up writing 150 poems/song lyrics about Ikaria. We’re now thinking of making them into a book. We gave them to an association, the philharmonic over there, so they can publish a little booklet and distribute them. So […] with the lyrics he gave me, I made my first recording, the only one so far. […]. On CD. It’s 17 songs, and I’ve written the music for 13 one them. It includes Kalamatiana, syrta […]. ‘Symbol’, ‘Symbol’ [the title of the CD]».

On the festivals in Ikaria, he said that: «Of course. The associations here […] they’re only for creating, for developing the local area […]. Besides, when an association holds a ball, holds an event, they will automatically bring out a list 1-2 days later, saying: ‘We took this much money. We paid the musicians this amount. We spent this much on the meat…’ […]. The way […] the organisers work, and organise the festivals, it’s the traditional way. The food, how you go and get this and that, how you pay, your wine, I don’t know. It’s all traditional. We still do it that way».

He also plays an active role in the island’s cultural life: «[…] I took some classes there [at the association in Athens] and then I came up with the idea and I was interested in creating a similar association here, in Ikaria, with the same – you know. The guys over there helped me out, they gave me their Memorandum of Association. I found some people here who supported the idea and so we started, and we created the association 4 years ago. Since last year, we’ve begun holding events with our students, and this year we’re already preparing a more organised sort of concert with them. Apart from everything else, we’ve put together a Choir that will also be taking part this year […]. Our interest is focused on making sure the kids receive what we can give them […]. And when we see the benefits […] when we can see that it’s working, we get all the more excited about it […]».

Translator’s Note: lafta – Constantinople lute; Lykeio Ellinidon – the Lyceum of Greek Women; kalamatianos (pl. kalamatiana) and syrtos (pl. syrta) – traditional Greek dances