A few words of introduction
Goumenissa is situated at the foot of Mt. Paiko, at an altitude not surpassing 250 metres. The town numbers approximately 4,500 inhabitants. It is the seat of the municipality of the same name and the capital of the Eparchy (district) of Paeonia of the Prefecture of Kilkis.
Goumenissa is renowned in the wider Macedonian area not only for its cocoon houses and its superb wine, but also for its many and very fine musicians. Folk musicians, knowledgeable in the age-old local traditions, but at the same time adept professionals who travel about and satisfy the musical and dance requirements of a wider region, mainly that of Central Macedonia. Drums, zournades, bagpipes and flutes are the instruments which, in the hands of the local players of Goumenissa, become the media through which is expressed an exceptionally fine popular musical art. These good musicians preserve the local idiom of the region, but, as canny professionals, they are also familiar with the repertoire of other regions or social groups (Vlachs, etc.), for whom they cater at weddings and village fetes. They also possess another quality, that of adapting themselves to the musical reality of the times. This means that, from the zournas and the bagpipes, these remarkable musicians have gone on to the “new musical fashion”, which is none other than the introduction of the clarinet into the folk tradition of Macedonia. The public has accepted the new quality of sound offered by this musical instrument imported from the West, which, in the hands of expert players from Goumenissa, is played “almost like the zournas”.
The new musical families, which in Goumenissa are numerous, will use the clarinet and, later on, such brass instruments as the trumpet, the trombone and the saxophone as well as the accordion. These Western imports, which almost always accompany the clarinet, quite often, too, dare join their voices to that of the zournas, an instrument the older musicians have never entirely forsaken, since there are always keen customers who seek for the shrill sound of the zournas and the poweful boom of the daouli to liven their festive gatherings and accompany their traditional customs.
The musicians of Goumenissa are among those professionals who can sense the musical changes that are taking place, as much in musical instruments and the new technologies as in the social make-up of the place. The old musical sounds are in ever diminishing demand. This has led the players to keep adapting themselves constantly to the new technologies, to the electric instruments, and there are today excellent musicians who, in ingenious combinations, offer their services to the populations of Central Macedonia and beyond.
In short, the musicians of the region of Goumenissa minister to the musical and dance needs of a wide area, preserving the style and mood of a distant past, while constantly adapting themselves to the requirements of the modern area.
In the present edition, now in the form of a CD, to the original recordings of the compania of Thanassis Serkos made for the LP produced by the Lyceum Club of Greek Women in 1989, have been added several new ones. I believe that these recordings as a whole bear witness to the wealth of the musical and dance repertoire of Goumenissa and the wider central Macedonian area, and that Thanassis Serkos and his compania worthily represent not only their town, but also a broad domain and a specific time, that of the end of the 20th century.
Athens, April 2003