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Greek Folk with Magda

Meet the Artist


Composer, arranger, producer, and vocalist Magda Giannikou was born in Athens, Greece. After studying classical piano for 15 years, she attended Berklee College of Music to hone her love for film scoring, jazz improvisation, arranging, and music production. Magda is the founder and leader of the world music group Banda Magda and has toured the world, performing at such renowned venues as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and such acclaimed festivals as the Vancouver Jazz Festival. Magda has also collaborated on several projects with two-time Grammy Award–winning group Snarky Puppy. She is part of the Sundance Composers Lab and was commissioned to compose a work for and perform with the Kronos Quartet, celebrating the group’s 40th anniversary at Lincoln Center. Magda is also committed to music education with artist residencies at various institutions around the world.

Magda Giannikou

Artist and Genre Overview

Greece is a country of islands and, as such, has developed many different forms of folk music over hundreds of years. Across all these variations, music and dance are closely intertwined; many Greek folk songs accompany dancing and are performed when people come together in social situations and celebrations. This unit focuses on two of the most popular Greek dances—sirtos and kalamatianos—found in multiple regions of the country. Both are circle dances, with somewhat similar movements. What makes them different are their meters: Sirtos is in 4/4, and kalamatianos 7/8.

Composer, arranger, producer, and vocalist Magda Giannikou was born near Athens in the quiet coastal town of Voula, Greece. Music became paramount in Magda’s life because she is the daughter of a music collector and a music educator. Having grown up by the Mediterranean Sea, she plays a lot of music inspired by the water, including the two songs in this unit. Now that she lives in New York City, she created the group Banda Magda, which brings together musicians from all over the world, including Greece, Argentina, Japan, Colombia, and the US. The band’s music combines South American rhythms, jazz improvisation, cinematic arrangements, and lyrics sung in seven different languages.


Lesson 1:
Learning “Trata”

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Lesson 1: Learning 'Trata'
“Trata” Demo

Greek folk artist Magda teaches the traditional Greek folk song “Trata.”


Lesson 2:
Learning “Thalassaki Mou”

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Lesson 2: Learning 'Thalassaki Mou'
“Thalassaki Mou” Demo

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


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