Ikaria means culture! Music, Ikariotikos dance, festivals and life, are the key features of the culture of Ikaria! Throughout the year, many cultural events are organised, such as theatrical performances, concerts, festivals and exhibitions in all parts of the island, which are very popular among locals and visitors. Various types of folk art, are exhibited at the Folklore Museum of Agios Kirykos and at different folklore collections in various villages, highlighting the Ikarian culture!
The musical tradition of the island, is one of the key features of the culture developed on the island. There were many factors that influenced and made known its unique characteristics all over the world, as an integral part of Greek folk culture. Significant influence has received from Asia Minor, which seems mainly to some very old songs, some of which are heard even nowadays. Few have significant influence and sounds and musical instruments, that existed in nearby mainly islands. Of course, an important factor in the evolution of musical tradition, was the life of Ikarians through the centuries, the economic difficulties of the people, the migration, the lifestyle and the emotional attachment of the people. Music is the identity of Ikaria! Today, Ikarian music has retained much of its original features, nevertheless heavily influenced by the pace of modern life. A traditional Ikarian song is 'the ampelokoutsoura' which is very popular in every festival or event. Ikaria has currently an organized Philharmonic Orchestra, which teaches to young people the traditional songs of the island, organizes musical events, preserves and transmits the genuine musical tradition of Ikaria in the next generations.
Traditional instruments of Ikaria was the lyre and tsampounofylaka, which were used exclusively in the fairs and in all the feasts of Ikarian people. The tsampounofylaka is a body made from goatskin, in which they put wooden tubes to produce the sound. These tubes are connected to two external wooden tubes also. One of them used to be blowing through the musician (who, usually, was the instrument manufacturer) and produce the air that will be used by the internal tubes for making music and the other outer tube has several holes along, but also the edge of the hole is used to play notes. The lyre, of which the construction was done by local people has remained in history as Ikarian lyre and even hosted and Folk Art Museum of Athens. After time, lyra and tsampounofylaka stopped as being the main instruments, used in festivals and dances and replaced by the violin and the lute and much later the bouzouki, which was originally part in akompaniarisma. In addition to the bodies found and which kept guitar and holds a dominant role in akompaniarisma. Moreover sometimes the orchestra used toumperleki or tampourlo, instead of drums and harmonium. The traditional musicians in Ikaria were usually self-taught in the past and cultivated their talent and love for music from their family and their environment.
The musical tradition requires mainly island songs, while a leading place in the festivals, is held by Ikariotikos dance. The Ikariotikos dance has many variations, depending on the village in which it was played, but mostly by musicians, each of whom left his own stamp on the song. Of course, there are the central lyrics, which are played up until today in all the festivals and dances, but even nowadays variants do not leave anyone unmoved and are used to play as an extension of the central object.
The Ikariotikos dance is one of the few dances, if not the only one, which will be heard many times during a fair, a dancing party or a celebration in general, because the tradition wants Ikariotikos to be the only song that is played in a feast and as a break we can listen to other songs. Authentic Ikariotikos is wordless and slow. The most famous variations is Tsamourikos, the Ikariotikos Lyristikos, which is played exclusively with lyre, also Peramaritikos, Ikariotikos pidihtos and Ikariotikos Tsampounofylaka . Variations were introduced in different regions and artists. Ikariotikos is a dance empirically learned and transmitted from generation to generation , but in Ikaria we find a traditional school named ‘Lyceum of Greek Women’, which keeps intact the knowledge and learning of Ikariotikos and all traditional dances, showcasing, thus, the Ikarian culture around the world .