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Sad music in restaurants?

Hello, I live in Dallas area and have been trying out Greek/Mediterranean food before my upcoming trip to Greece. Most restaurants I visited play sad music (like singing sad song in crying voice). Is this the norm in Greece?

Posted by
1117 posts

I don't think there is any "norm" everyone could agree on that would define which music is to be considered "sad". :-)

Also, your question makes wonder what is going to happen if we were to tell you yes, all Greek restaurants constantly play sad music: Would you cancel your trip? Would you live on grocery food?

Posted by
7189 posts

Simple: next trip to an authentic Greek restaurant in Dallas area why not ask the people working there what is the music that is playing and "is this the norm in Greece."

Posted by
3265 posts

Of course they only play sad music. Everyone knows that you eat and drink more when you're sad.

OR

It's to keep the plate smashing to a minimum.

OR

They are playing ballads, as opposed to the more lively songs, because it adds to the ambiance without being intrusively noisy for the diners. Since I don't speak Greek, I have no idea if the lyrics are sad or not.

If their music bothers you, pop in your earbuds and listen to your own playlist. Just kidding. Don't do that unless you're dining alone.

Posted by
21717 posts

No, no, no. That is not the norm. In fact I cannot remember much music being played in any Greek restaurants. There are a whole lot of other things that could, you should be worrying about instead of background music.

Posted by
1117 posts

Most Greek restaurants only play the Sirtaki anyway, which is the Americanized version of a Greek folk dance, allegedly invented for Anthony Quinn who could not get his feet around the 7/8 beat of the authentic Greek folk dance they originally intended for Alexis Zorbas. :-)

Posted by
2864 posts

Hi tara -- I understand your puzzlement ... I also encountered this before going to Greece. NYC and Philadelphia each have large greek-american communities, and each has a hour on public TV sponsored by area greek Merchants ... videos of Greek scenes, and of local church festivals, AND old videos from Greek TV of Athens nightclub scenes, where they play this minor-key music, with wailing singers. WHAT in the heck? I said, I thought Greeks were HAPPY people, "Never on SUnday," etc etc. This music is called "rembetika," very Near-Eastern, the "blues" of the downtrodden, lots of sadness,crime, loss etc.

Reading a little history cleared up the why. Until WW I, immense Greek populations living in coastal areas of "the Levant" (Turkey, Iran, Syria, Lebanon),, remnants of ancient Greek colonies, known as Ionia. In WW I, Greece sided with Allies, were rewarded with getting back many territories historically theirs. The Greek president got over-confident & said, why not get back "Greater Greece" (Ionia ) and sent some troops in. Not smart to attack a country that has army of 3 million (turkey)!! Greece was Crushed, humiliating peace terms = for Exchange of populations: about 350,000 Turks had to leave Greece, but over 1.2 MILLION Greeks were expelled from the region. This huge influx of refugees almost swamped parts of Crete, Athens Thessaloniki & other areas. In the slums & barrios, "rembetika" (sometimes called Ottoman cafe music) arose ... not music that appeals to western ears. We hear it in Greek venues in America because many immigrants to USA came from this group. I don't like it either... it's definitely an acquired taste.

However, there is a widespread popular-music tradition in Greece that's much cheerier, upbeat and melodic -- and almost all Greeks know the words and music and sing along to. One of the most beloved of GReek singers Nana Mouskouri sang these all over the world (she sold more records worldwide than Frank Sinatra); here she is in a packed concert in Athens' Herodius Maximus ampthitheatre, singing the irresistible "La-La Song". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxqEQOb5Azs&feature=related

You'll hear catchy & melodic song like this in cafes sometimes. I remember sitting in a small out-of the way Athens cafe w Greek friends when 2 guys w. Guitar & Lyra showed up, not part of formal entertainment. They just started playing & singing, and people around joined in, wonderful ballads, it went on for an hour. I asked my friend, what do you call these songs? She said, oh, they're just village songs, you grow up with them. I realized they're what we would call "Camp songs" or "campfire songs," Like the ones we all sang of summer nights, making our s'mores over the fire. I hope you'll encounter this music in Greece ... and also, there's a lot of music that has minor-key roots but lots of upbeat energy -here's a Greek Dance Mix that will have toes tapping instead of tears falling - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxqEQOb5Azs&feature=related

Posted by
949 posts

I grew up in a Greek-American household and every Sunday my father would listen to a Greek-music radio station. The majority of the music was lively and upbeat and in fact would be considered "roots music" . . . earthy, soulful, and full of emotion.

We would go to Greek picnics put on by our Church where there was live Greek Music and once again it was "party time". Greeks loved to dance and while there was some slow dance music most of it was fast, upbeat and very danceable.

Here in NH (USA) the only true Greek Restaurant I know of plays taped Greek Music and it is not sad by any means.

We have been going to Greece every October since 2010 and for the most part all live music is very upbeat. Sorta like the blues, sounds like someone is suffering but not always . . . Greek Music is exciting and if you have the chance to hear a live Greek Band in Greece you'll see that the majority of the music being played is not sad.

Posted by
31471 posts

That doesn't sound like the music I've heard in Greece, which tends to be more upbeat and suitable for dancing. "Sad music" sounds more like the Fado in Portugal.

Posted by
6 posts

Thank you everyone especially Janet and tommyk5 for the history and additional info. I love the kind of music from the Iinks above. It is upbeat and not like what I heard in the restaurants in Dallas. I think I will enjoy Greece even more now!

Posted by
703 posts

what we have found in europe is people often can't speak a word of english ( pretty obvious) but they listen to english music. often old 80's &90's english pop music is played , when you are in restaurants and background music in shops etc. And they sometimes sing along to it.

Posted by
6 posts

I appreciate learning something new from you all especially "rembetika" and its history! Now I also appreciate the sad music!

Posted by
949 posts

Check out another You Tube video of Greeks Dancing during one of the many festivals on the Island of Ikaria. These are mostly Greeks, few tourists and even though there is no vocals the music is lively, upbeat and grows more intense as the dance progresses.

You can see and hear Greeks living life to the fullest. Nothing sad, meloncholy or downbeat here . . . Greeks living the Lust for Life!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edwvUO9GquM