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  • Nikos Papalexakis makes and plays stringed instruments - bouzouki, uti, mandolin and the smallest of them all, the Lyre.
    His father has been saving wood for the last forty years, so the stock for the body of the instruments is dry enough. Moisture hurts the resonance and the color of the sound.

    For the face of the lyre, Nikos uses 500 year-old wood taken from the old Venetian homes when they are being refurbished - "though there are not many homes being fixed up any more."

    Musicians drop by his store in the old part of Rethymno. They play a few tunes, sip some raki and hang.

    Women and girls drop by as well. They want his cell phone, among other things. He is tall, well-built. He dances, plays the lyre, sings, rhymes couplets, and is obviously good with this hands.... and to date, unmarried.

    The most famous tune to learn is the Erotokritos.

    I tried to play it with him and failed miserably. Unlike the guitar, which I do play, you don't press down on the chords, but push against them with your fingernails and run them up and down to shift notes.

    A boy came by to string his guitar. Nikos diligently cleaned the body of the guitar, did up the strings and handed it back to him.

    Cost? Half a Euro.

    ps: This is a sound clip from Ross Daly, a transplanted Irishman and now famous Greek bard, playing the Erotokritos
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