Ρωγμές (the gaps in my vocabulary)

For amplified bouzouki and live electronics

At the age of 9, I moved to Limassol, Cyprus, where I lived until the age of 18. I spent half of my childhood there, and developed as a person in ways I think will stay with me for the rest of my life. I consider it to be my ‘home’ more or less equally as much as I consider my birth place of Inverness, Scotland to be.

While Greek is the official language of the Republic of Cyprus, English is very widely spoken, and the school I attended taught in English. As a result of this and my own lack of motivation to put in the effort, I never learnt how to speak Greek fluently. Towards the end of my time there, I was able to understand and speak the language to a point, but by no means fluently.

Despite my lack of proficiency in the Greek language, I feel I integrated well into the Cypriot culture and felt very comfortable there. I realised this even more upon returning to Scotland; one day, for a reason I can’t entirely recall,I put on a song by Anna Vissi, a famous Cypriot pop singer. I was struck by how distinct the music sounded; vastly different from most of what I hear on a regular basis in this country, yet this was the sound I partially grew up with. Despite learning to play electric guitars rather than bouzoukis during my time there, it still sounded very familiar to me; yet my persistent inability to fully understand the language after over a decade bothered me.

This piece uses original material written for the bouzouki (a popular Hellenic instrument, used in many Greek and Cypriot pop songs) and audio from songs featured in the Cypriot charts from 2003-2005 (the first two years I lived there),and attempts to reconcile the comfort I felt in that culture with the fact that I cannot quite understand what exactly it is they are saying.

Ρωγμές translates into English as ‘cracks’. It is also the name of a popular bouzoukia (a form of Cypriot traditional music that the country’s pop music grew out of) nightclub in Limassol.

Written for Rory Comerford, to be premiered in 2016.