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Making The Film

Every Island has its Own Songs: The Tsimouris Family of Tarpon Springs

Film by Peggy Bulger
Produced by Nancy Michael, Linda Bassett, Richard Delaney
Cinematographer: Eric Jones, with Kirk Hepburn
Sound: George Czkwianianc
Editing: Ken Cherry
Copyright: 1988, Florida Department of State
27 minutes, Color
Original format: Film: 16mm, 1988
Distributor:
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Home streaming only. For other permissions apply to Peggy Bulger or to the distributor.


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Nikitas Tsimouris (1924 - 2001) brought the complex music of the tsabouna, a type of Greek bagpipe, to Tarpon Springs. He was born in the village of Chora on the Dodecanese island of Kalymnos, one of eight children of a sponge fisherman and citrus sharecropper. He emigrated to Tarpon Springs in 1968, where he worked on sponge boats, in a restaurant, and finally in the stucco trade. In 1991, Tsimouris became the first Floridian to receive a National Heritage Fellowship.

The tsabouna is one of two types of bagpipes in Greece. The gaida, played in mainland Greece, has a single chanter. The tsabouna played in the islands has an untanned goatskin bag turned inside out, blowpipe, and two parallel chanters, each with five finger holes, fitted into a single tube with wax. The tube is often olive wood, while the chanters and reeds are rush or cane. The musician blows air into the bag through the mouthpiece and squeezes the bag to generate sound.

Ethnomusicologist Theodore Grame first recorded Tsimouris and published a paper on the highly ornamented and complex music, characterized by intricate melodies and many notes. Tsimouris also worked with ethnomusicologist Kathleen Monahan, and most extensively with folklorist/anthropologist and friend Anna Lomax Wood.


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