Nick Nicholas: Why is Greek music being exported so successfully to outside markets like the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East?

Why is Greek music being exported so successfully to outside markets like the Balkans, Turkey and the Middle East?

It’s kinda guess work, but this is my thinking on the topic.

Musics of adjoining regions have a family resemblance. German music and Greek music don’t have a lot in common. But German music has things in common with Czech music, which has things in common with Hungarian, which has things in common with Romanian, which has things in common with Serbian, which things in common with Greek music. (I don’t actually know this for a fact, I’m just arguing it.)

Greek music isn’t being exported to China, Thailand, and Kenya. It’s being exported to areas where there is cultural affinity for the music, where it sounds familiar, because those are neighbouring areas which have had cultural interaction.

And the music being exported successfully isn’t Greek Euro-pop. It’s music from the Greek Laïko tradition: what I usually call on Quora “bouzouki pop”. Laiko ultimately derives from Rebetiko, which ultimately derives from Smyrneiko—as Wikipedia describes it, “Ottoman café music”. The Peiraeus sound of Markos Vamvakaris in the 1930s was Smyrneiko with subtle Western influences, both in the jaunty beat and in the selection of modes. Government censorship after 1936 encouraged less oriental-sounding modes; and Laiko itself is Rebetiko with much more overt Western influence.

In other words, the Greek pop music being successfully exported is a fusion: it’s identifiably Levantine, but it also sounds much more Western than its antecedents. Fusions, I surmise, are more approachable to external audiences, so they travel better.

The big story that Evangelos Lolos’ formulation of the question misses (I asked it, but he asked it first as a comment) is Israel. Greek music is huge in Israel.

Members of the Anglosphere might be puzzled to hear this, because their understanding of Jewish culture is mainly Ashkenazi, and Ashkenazi music is supposed to be Klezmer, it’s not supposed to sound Middle Eastern or Turkish. Or Greek.

To which, two retorts. First, Israel is not just Ashkenazi. It’s also Sephardi and Mizrahi. And both are Levantine, and as a result have significant cultural affinity with Greek music.

The second retort is a thought experiment. What happens if you take a Greek modal, quick, whirling folk dance tune—and you put a Germanic oom-pah bass underneath it?

Nikos Skalkottas. 36 Greek Dances. #11: Syrtos.

Tell me if that doesn’t sound Yiddishe to you.

If that doesn’t work, see here:

Why has there been so much political resistance to legalizing gay marriage in Australia?

Ah, recentism.

As Ben Kelley’s answer reflects, but not enough answers have acknowledged, dragging one’s feet about gay marriage has become a bipartisan thing.

Gay marriage has become a flashpoint for the current culture war in Australia; the ex-PM and leader of the conservative faction of the Liberals, Tony Abbott, announced that if you’re sick of political correctness, you should vote against.

The inaction is partly because culture war issues are much more prominent in Australian politics than it was a decade ago. It’s something that conservative commentators, such as Andrew Bolt and Abbot’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin, use as a cudgel against current PM Malcolm Turnbull, who is known to be personally pro gay marriage. “Aussie families don’t care about gay marriage! They care about their power bills!” (Because, presumably, gay couples aren’t real Aussie families to them.)

But more importantly, it is because both parties have been much more riven by internal conflict and factionalism than they were (as witnessed by the revolving door of PMs in the past several years); and progressives in the parties can’t afford to antagonise the conservatives in the parties. The issue is certainly a proxy war between moderates and conservatives among the Liberals; contrast Abbott’s stance with Christopher Pyne’s leaked gloating that the moderates were on the ascendancy within the party, and marriage equality was a matter of time.

Labor has no right to be smug about this now, because Labor was just as captive to its own conservatives when it had the chance to legalise gay marriage. Because of how Labor works, the most prominent opponent was not a member of parliament: it was union head Joe de Bruyn, whose opposition is founded on Catholicism.

The late Gough Whitlam, sainted progressive PM of Labor, was always ready with a quip. Here’s Joe de Bruyn – Wikipedia on de Bruyn on gay marriage:

The SDA [de Bruyn’s union] is associated with the Labor Right, Labor Unity or Centre-Unity grouping or faction of the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party. It also has a long-established reputation as a supporter of conservative Catholic parliamentarians. De Bruyn, himself a Catholic, is a leading figure in the right wing faction of the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party. De Bruyn has come under scrutiny for voicing his socially conservative views while being secretary of a trade union and holding a position on the National Executive of Labor, a centre-left political party. He has repeatedly voiced opposition to abortion, and to legalising same sex marriage.

In response to a 2014 poll with 72 percent support for same-sex marriage, de Bruyn dismissed the figures but refused to poll his members on the issue. He says he “knows they agree with him absolutely. When we talk to our members about out these things they agree with us”.

At a quarterly SDA members meeting in February 2011, de Bruyn moved a resolution against gay marriage, without giving any members a chance to speak or vote on the issue. This led to the first instance of members of the SDA speaking out and challenging de Bruyn on his stance on gay marriage. Speaking at an AWU event in 2003, former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam quipped that “Joe de Bruyn is a Dutchman who hates dykes.”

Labor is pro gay marriage now. But that’s easier in opposition than government.

Why didn’t the Greeks convert to Catholicism under the Latin Empire?

InB4 Dimitris Almyrantis

The good news for you, OP, is that not only have I read up a fair bit on conversions of Greeks to Catholicism or Islam, I’ve even published academically on the subject.

The bad news is, I’m familiar with a number of circumstances where Greeks did or didn’t convert, but 13th century Greece is not one of them.

What I’m going to do though is answer the more general question: Why did Greeks convert or not convert, to Catholicism or Islam, between the 13th and the 18th century. I will build a framework which I will apply to the dozen cases I know. And then I’ll flippantly say, “oh, Greeks under the Latin Empire must have been like X.”

The framework:

There are four scenarios, I believe, for Greeks converting or not. The following wording is for conversion to Catholicism; you can change it to conversion to Islam, by replacing “heretic” with “infidel”.

  1. The Homeland Scenario. “There shall be no damned heretics on our home turf! It is an insult to God! (Or: to our geopolitics.) Convert them immediately, and don’t be gentle about it!”
    1. Outcome: Conversion.
  2. The Colonial Scenario. “There are too goddamn many heretics in this god-forsaken outpost, for us to convert. And besides, keeping a bunch of heretics around is useful. Someone has to do the work around here. We’ll just clip their wings to make sure their leadership don’t get too uppity.”
    1. Outcome: No Conversion, but Restriction in power of Orthodox Clergy. Potentially, Only Nominal Conversion, to Byzantine Rite Catholicism. (Yes, the doctrine and the ecclesiastical authority are Catholic. But only priests know the difference. The Mass still looks Greek Orthodox.)
  3. The Imperial Scenario. “We’re running an empire here: we have better things to do than act as missionaries. Having their leadership be uppity is a feature, not a bug. They can run the heretics’ affairs on our behalf.”
    1. Outcome: No Conversion, a measure of autonomy granted.
  4. The Grassroots Scenario. “We’ve seen no help from our clergy, and we’ve seen plenty of help from their clergy. You know what? Defending our creed is not worth the effort. We’ll go with them.”
    1. Outcome: Conversion.

Now to apply the framework.

  • Turkey, 12th century. Imperial Scenario. I don’t know much about the Seljuk empire, but I know they didn’t run around converting Greeks to Islam.
  • Turkey, 13th century. Mixed Homeland/Colonial Scenario. The emirates that succeeded the Seljuks were not running an empire, but individual small states, so they did not feel like taking the relaxed big picture. There was fervent missionary work undertaken by them, as I’ve documented elsewhere, although the presence of Christianity in Western Anatolia did not collapse until the 15th century. And in the meantime, the capital tax on Christians was in fact their major source of income. So initially more of a colonial scenario, then later more of a homeland scenario.
  • Crete, 14th century. Colonial Scenario. Crete is a colony of Venice, and a rebellious one at that. Conversion is too hard work. But the local Orthodox population is denied senior clergy (there were no Orthodox bishops permitted on the island, the nearest bishop was in Modon on the Peloponnese). They are the underclass, working class, and lower middle class that keep things running and generating income for Venice and its feudal landholders.

    I’ve written elsewhere about the poet Stephanos Sahlikis (Ooh! He Said ‘Fuck’! He must be a revolutionary! by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile). Sahlikis belonged to one of the three indigenous Cretan clans that had converted to Catholicism, and were allowed to own fiefs as well. Venice accepted the necessity of coopting locals to Catholicism: it ran out of Italians to run their fiefs, and it needed to reward locals who helped them suppress the constant local revolts. But it didn’t want too many turncoats; they weren’t about to enfranchise the entire serf population that made Crete profitable.

    The division between Catholic and Orthodox had eased off somewhat by the 16th century, when Crete was less a colony and more a province of Venice; so the scenario would have crept towards Imperial. It didn’t creep far: the local peasantry resented their forced labour (Corvée) to the end, and welcomed the Ottomans as liberators.

  • Greece and Northern Turkey, 15th century. Imperial Scenario. The Ottoman Empire pretty much wrote the book on this, with its Millet system. Not only was the senior Orthodox clergy retained in the newly conquered Orthodox territory of Greece and the Pontus, it administered Christians’ affairs on behalf of the Empire. As long as the Empire got what it needed (tax, troops through Devshirme), the infidels were rarely pressured to convert to Islam. Of course (Grassroots Scenario) some Greeks sought conversion as advantageous to them, but it did not become the norm.
  • Northeastern Turkey, 17th century. Homeland Scenario?. There were a few exceptions of deliberate Islamisation. The Islamisation of Albania and Bosnia was in order to subdue a particularly rebellious population; that’s not quite a “home turf” scenario, but it is a scenario in which Orthodoxy had been identified as an administrative liability. The Of Valley was also Islamised, in the 17th century: Greek is still spoken there, but the population is renowned as devoutly Muslim. I don’t know why Islamisation was pursued there, but securing the region would make sense, particularly if neighbouring Georgia and Russia was a concern.
  • Central Italy, 17th century. Homeland Scenario. A number of colonies of Greeks from Mani were established in Italy in the 17th century. Conversion to Latin Rite Catholicism was a precondition on settlement. Some colonists resisted it, but they were not able to resist it long. The Homeland Scenario was how Europe worked in the 17th century: Cuius regio, eius religio was how the warfare between Protestants and Catholics was resolved. The ruler got to decide which religion was allowed. And anyone who deviated from what the ruler decided, didn’t get to deviate for long.
  • Southern Italy, 17th century. Mixed Colonial/Homeland Scenario. This description I’m somewhat less comfortable with, but: the Orthodox population of Southern Italy (ethnic Greek and Albanian) were pressured into adopting Byzantine Rite, and eventually Latin Rite. The same degree of coercion that was applied in Central Italy couldn’t be applied in the south, because of the far greater number of Orthodox; and (speculating) because of the political situation: the Spanish rulers of Naples could not coopt the local Catholic population as effectively to apply peer pressure.

    Eventually, a critical mass point was reached, and the Homeland scenario switched in. In fact, it’s the Albanians in Southern Italy, not the Greeks, who have held out and retained Byzantine Rite.

  • Corsica, 17th–18th century. Colonial Scenario. The Greek settlers were another bunch of colonists from Mani, but they held off from real assimilation for two to three centuries. They had a number of factors that made that possible. The initial factor was that, while Rome considered Corsica its home turf, and pressed heavily for conversion, Genoa was running Corsica as an outpost, and it needed the Greeks on side to help control the rebellious locals. So Genoa consistently tried to work around the pressure coming from Rome.

    The Greeks, for that matter, were too damn many: they had their own monastery of monks preaching anti-Catholic rhetoric, and they were well armed (forming later on the armed elite of Ajaccio—a Greek sponsored Napoleon to go to military school). And assimilation was off the table for a very long time; when Corsicans asked them to join their revolt against Genoa in 1729, the Greeks laughed them off as goats and Vlachs. (Proper meaning: Aromanian-speakers. Secondary meaning: highlander hillbillies. Maniot meaning: lowlander peasants.)

  • Crete, 17th century. Grassroots Scenario. A massive proportion of Cretans converted to Islam; by 1800, it was half the island. I’m sure there’s research now about why, and I’m sure there wasn’t research a generation ago, when I was reading history. The initial impetus must have been the peasantry’s relief at being freed from forced labour—something that the Orthodox low-ranking clergy had been powerless to help them with.
  • Florida, 18th century. Grassroots Scenario. The New Smyrna colony was meant to be yet another Maniot colony, with Maniots from Corsica joining in. The boats took off for Florida from Minorca (British-ruled at the time), and every Minorcan who could jumped on board. The Maniots mostly died of malaria, and there was no Orthodox clergy on board; the maladministered colony was thus Greco-Corsican and Minorcan. On Corsica, the Greeks loathed Catholics. In Florida, they gained succour from Catholic clergy. When Florida went back to Spanish rule and conducted a census of New Smyrna, only one colonist (from Crete, I believe) said he considered himself Orthodox.

That was a lot of fun, even though I’m embarrassed I don’t know what happened in the Of valley.

So. The Latin Empire of the 13th century.

  • Not Homeland Scenario. The Crusaders were a long, long way from France, and didn’t have the critical mass of local Catholics, or the means, to convert the locals by force or forceful encouragement.
  • Not Grassroots Scenario. There was some intermarriage, and the Greek version of the Chronicle of the Morea was written by a gasmule, a product of such intermarriage: he clearly identifies with French interests, and attacks Orthodox Greeks consistently. But the Latin Empire and its successor statelets likely couldn’t have even offered the locals the incentives Venice grudgingly did, to encourage conversion. They were not rich, and not well-defended; they were hanging on for dear life in the Levant.

That leaves the Imperial Scenario (we’ll benignly leave the Greeks to their own affairs) and Colonial Scenario (we’re happy to leave the Greeks as an underclass).

I’m sure the Latin Empire would have liked to exploit the Greek peasantry, and curtail their heretic clergy, just like Venice did in Crete. I just don’t think they had the wherewithal or the nous to do it. Too inexperienced in colonialism and imperialism, too far from home, too embattled. I think they ended up in the Imperial Scenario—where you don’t bother converting the locals: not as a gesture of magnanimity born of strength, the way Mehmed II devised it, but as a gesture of pragmatism born of weakness.

Where should I report Quora Content Review’s edit mistakes?

The advice being given on this question by other answers is 3 years out of date.

Nick Nicholas’ answer to How can one contact the Quora Content Review? As in something like private messages or something?

Christopher VanLang has indicated the only way to stop QCR edit warring you is to report its action as a bug. That, at least, will actually get looked at by a human. I can report that it’s stopped a couple of my edit wars with QCR.

When, and how, will I be able to download all of the Quora content I have produced, like the Facebook and Twitter feed export options?

I have edited the answer wiki, but finding that my edits have been “submitted for review”, and being mistrustful, I am posting my current understanding here. I will update this (and, if I am allowed to, the Answer Wiki) as more initiatives come to light; Didier Szende is working on a solution.

All solutions are vulnerable to the frequent changes in the Quora UI, and need to be updated frequently. All solutions are vulnerable to Quora detecting multiple downloads from the same IP address, and blocking access by that IP address, which may mean you can no longer access Quora: do not use solutions that download multiple links in parallel.

And a review (out of scope I think of an Answer Wiki):

If you’re comfortable with the command line, the Python solutions work, though I’ve only ever downloaded 1000 answers at a time. Bad idea, btw, since the HTML can change radically between different times of download, even with the solutions that strip out HTML noise.

If not, try Free My Stuff; I couldn’t get it to go past 1k when I time, but the developer has reported that is fixed. He’s also annoyed because the HTML keeps changing; that’s why I recommend my fork of Brian’s code over his original.

Walker’s solution does what the others do for downloading content, but it makes me anxious, in case it accidentally downloads links in parallel, or too quickly. Be familiar with your spidering software’s configurations before using it.

What should we do when asking questions on Quora now that there are no details and in order for many questions, especially ones with in-depth and complex meanings, to make any sense at all it requires an obnoxiously long title like this question?

As in, how can we work around the new regime?

My approach will not work for everyone, but it’s going to be to answer my own questions a lot more, so I can give some visible information on what kind of answer I’m looking for. “This is my first guess” will no longer be in details, but an answer. “These are the assumptions I had in formulating this question” is also going to show up in the body of my self-answer. If that makes it a bad answer, then let Quora machine learning work that out. I have a deficit of sympathy for it, and I do not believe that added background within an answer makes it a bad answer for human readers.

Other than that, question comments are now our new best friends, and I think we’ll be checking them a lot more. (To the extent that they survive merges, which are now more aggressive; but details were already hostage to merges.)

What should I do and not do when visiting and praying at the Greek Acropolis?

Do bring a drink with you. Don’t expect to find cheap drinks in the vicinity.

On my latest visit to the Sacred Rock, I said to a vendor at the foot of the hill:

—As our ancient ancestors used to say: I’ll have a coke please.

The vendor replied.

—As our ancient ancestors used to say: that’ll be €5, buddy.

Don’t run eager to see the Marvels Of The Holy Rock, like I did when I was 8. It’s a 100m climb: you want to pace yourself.

Do look out for the Anafiotika. It’s a Greek Island village perched right on the Acropolis hillside. Which makes sense, because it was settled from a Greek island: “The first houses were built in the era of Otto of Greece, when workers from the island of Anafi came to Athens in order to work as construction workers in the refurbishment of King Otto’s Palace.”

Don’t expect the Parthenon frieze. There’s only tiny bits of it left on site: the frieze is scattered among museums throughout the world, though I was grateful that the British Museum sold a book which put photos of them all together.

Do expect scaffolding: the Acropolis has been a building site for restoration since 1975.

Don’t expect that you’re seeing all the history of the Acropolis. You’re seeing Bavarians’ impression of what the history of the Acropolis should be like. The Acropolis had 2500 years of history after Pericles, as a citadel and a cathedral. All of it was stripped away after Athens became the capital of the Modern Greek state.

Frankish Tower (Acropolis of Athens) – Wikipedia

Photo from 1872.

The tower was dismantled in 1874, as part of a wider cleaning-up of the Acropolis from post-Classical buildings, a project initiated and financed by Heinrich Schliemann. The demolition of such an “integral part of the Athenian horizon” (Théophile Gautier) drew considerable criticism at the time, while the eminent historian of Frankish Greece William Miller later called it “an act of vandalism unworthy of any people imbued with a sense of the continuity of history”.

Do expect to find the Caryatids, the “maidens of the rock”, and do expect people to tell you the story that the five maidens wept when their sister was stolen away by Lord Elgin.

Don’t expect the same people to say that the Caryatids you’re looking at are replicas: the real remaining five sisters are shielded from Athens smog in the Acropolis Museum.

And, hate to say it, do expect odd looks if you do a Hellenic Pagan prayer. Hellenic pagans exist, but they’re not widely known.

What is “Insurgency Knockoff”? Is this an alternative to the “failing” Quora?

No, the reference in Jack Munzel’s Question Session of Quora News as an Insurgency knockoff is to The Insurgency blog.

What do you think about Question Sources?

Question Sources are not Question Details, and they aren’t a substitute for Question Details. Sources may be triggers for a question or context for a question; they are not an elucidation of a question, a reason for asking, or a framework for the kind of answers sought.

They’re not useless, but they’re not useful as often as details are. The fact there’s only one of them allowed can be a problem too. Compared to the free text of the detail, Sources are (by design) a straitjacket. So I anticipate that I will use sources less often than I used details.

I anticipate they’ll mostly be dumping grounds for YouTube links (which may be relevant to the question), images in image identification (and good luck wording that question usefully), and links to news articles for current affairs questions.