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Lesson 2: Learning “Thalassaki Mou”

Aim: How are meter and rhythm expressed in a folk dance?

Summary: Students experience 7/8 meter in the song “Thalassaki Mou,” and explore patterns of strong and weak beats.
Materials: Musical Explorers digital resources
Standards: National 1, 2, 4, 8, 11
Vocabulary: meter, strong beat, weak beat

“Thalassaki Mou” tells a story from two perspectives. The first half of the song is in the voice of a sailor’s family praying for the seas to be kind when he goes off. The latter half of the song is in the voice of the sailor, wondering if he will make it home to see his family again.

Magda Teaches “Thalassaki Mou”

“Thalassaki Mou” Demonstration

Greek folk artist Magda teaches the traditional Greek folk song “Thalassaki Mou.”

Sing “Thalassaki Mou”

  • Listen to “Thalassaki Mou,” Track 6.
  • Learn the lyrics using “Thalassaki Mou” pronunciation, Track 7. Learn the melody for the refrain to “Thalassaki Mou,” which is sung at the end of every verse.
  • Learn the melody for the chorus to “Thalassaki Mou,” which is sung only at the end of the song.
  • Sing the chorus using “Thalassaki Mou” chorus, Track 8.

“Thalassaki Mou”

Text

Thalassa, thalassa, tous
Thalassinous, thalassaki mou
Mi tous thalassothernis.
Thalassonoume
Ya sena ksimeronoume.

Rothostamo, rothostamo
Na yinese, thalassaki mou
Tin porta tous na renis
Thalassaki mou
Ke fere to poulaki mou.

Helithona, xelithonakia ke poulia,
Thalassaki mou
Pou hamilpetate,
Thalassaki mou
Ke fere, to poulaki mou.

An thite tin, an thite tin
Agapi mou, thalassaki mou
Na mou tin heretate
Thalassaki mou
Ke fere to poulaki mou.

Chorus:
Thalassa ki almiro nero,
Na se ksehaso then boro.
Na se ksehaso then boro,
Thalassa ki almiro nero.
(x2)

 

Translation

Sea, sea
The sailors, my darling sea
Don’t beat them with your waves.
I’m out at sea
I stay awake all night thinking of you.

Turn into rosewater
My darling sea
To sprinkle on their hair
My darling sea
Bring my bird back to me.

Swallows and birds,
My darling sea
You who fly close to the ground,
My darling sea
Bring my bird back to me.

If you see, if you see
My love, my darling sea
Give her my greetings
My darling sea
Bring my bird back to me.

Chorus:
Sea and salt water,
I cannot forget you.
I cannot forget you,
Sea and salt water.
(x2)

Explore the Distinctive Meter and Rhythm in “Thalassaki Mou”

  • Explain that in music, the meter is the number of beats in each measure determined by the pattern of strong and weak beats. In “Thalassaki Mou,” there are seven beats in every measure.
  • Listen to “Thalassaki Mou” 7/8 rhythm, Track 9. Explain that there is a pattern of strong beats and weak beats that form a distinctive meter.
  • The strong beats fall on beats 1, 4, and 6, and sound like this: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7.
  • Another way to think about it is in three groups of notes, as follows: 1 2 3 1 2 1 2.
  • Perform the rhythm together, using “Thalassaki Mou” 7/8 rhythm, Track 9, and clapping on the strong beats.
  • Divide the class into two groups and have one group count out beats 1–7 while the other group claps the rhythm.
  • Perform with “Thalassaki Mou” instrumental, Track 10, and switch the groups.

Dance to “Thalassaki Mou”

  • In the traditional dance for “Thalassaki Mou,” all the steps are on the strong beats.
    • Form a circle and pick a leader. Everyone holds hands except for the leader, who keeps one hand free to hold and wave a scarf. The leader can add improvisation to his or her movement while continuing to move in a circle. Step on the strong beats, as follows:
      • Beat 1: Step to the right with your right foot.
      • Beat 4: With a slight hop, cross your left foot behind your right foot.
      • Beat 6: Step to the right with your right foot.
      • Beat 1: With a slight hop, cross your left foot in front of your right foot.
      • Beat 4: Step to the right with your right foot.
      • Beat 6: With a slight hop, cross your left foot in front of your right foot.
      • Repeat the movements. Note that the full pattern covers two full measures.
    • Perform the traditional Greek dance using “Thalassaki Mou,” Track 6. Try starting the dance to the left as well; at the concert, we will be changing direction.
Creative Extension

Explore the Greek Language

Using Explore the Greek Language (PDF), your students will learn about the Greek language. They will discover that Greek has its own alphabet and that many English words originated from Greek words.

Literacy Extension

The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables

The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables provides the beautiful collection of fables from Aesop, an Ancient Greek storyteller, whose stories of animals and morals have been told for generations.

Cover of "Aesop's Fables" depicting a donkey, grasshopper, mouse, lion, bull, fox, and turtle, among other animals

Musical Word Wall

Add the words meter, strong beat, and call and response to the Musical Word Wall.

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