I posted a comment on the Kanun boards, and realized some of what I wrote there was germane to the Santouri board.
"How I love this style of music! Half of my mother's family are Greek immigrants, and that side of my family was quite musical. Evidental, my great grandfather on this side played Santouri!! Perhaps it was fate that I came to the dulcimer. (Perhaps I should take a closer look at the Santur/Santouri/Santoor board here!) Attached is a neat photo of old Santouri from Greek traditional musician John Pappas' website."
Here too is a page with clip's from John's CD. Although not mentioned on the webpage, track 6 has some Santouri playing with the other instruments. cdbaby.com/cd/jpappas1
Hmm...I don't know. Having made and played dulcimers with both chessmen and one piece bridges, I think the difference is slight at best. Having connected bridge caps is also supposed to make a difference and that will require more investigation to determine. The continuous bridges wander less when a dulcimer is transported which is a major advantage over the chessmen type.
The musician in the photo is Nikos Karatasos. He is one of the very few musicians in Greece today that play cimbalom. He plays santouri too (photo). Some decades ago, there were two basic 'dulcimer traditions' in Greece. Usually musicians from continental Greece played cimbalom while those from the islands and Minor Asia played the choramtic Greek santouri.
Actually, there aren't any syncopations in the first piece. Probably what confused you is the meter which is 7/8 (3/8 + 2/8 + 2/8). This rhythm is called "Kalamatiano" and it is very common all over Greece. Now, I remember how confusing was this song for my English friends at Roehampton University, where I did my MA Choral Education last year. We performed an arrangement of this song by Greek composer Yannis Konstantinidis, in the university choir. This rhythm confused everyone but at the end everyone liked this song.
PS The second piece is in 9/4. This rhythm is called "Vari Zeimpekiko". Usually Zeimpekiko is in not so slow (that's why in most transcriptions is written in 9/8). However in Lesvos we have very slow versions of this dance, which are called "Vari" (=heavy)
Now that I am thinking better, Lesvos is famous for two reasons. The santouri and the dances in meters of 9.
Thank you for posting the sound files!!! Did you know if Yannis Sousamlis wrapped his hammers with cloth or cotton fibres?? The late John Rea used hammers of thich steel wire padded with wool and drew a very nice tone from the instrument with them. Might be worth a try.
I was unaware that this picture was of Mr. Karatasos (!) and yet have an album of his playing bought in Volos. My Greek is really terrible but I believe it is the Autoskedhiasmos album, as it is mainly taximia and solos. Incredible music!
Perhaps I should improve my Greek so I can benefit from Dimitris Kofteros's book. It seems there is little else available on the subject. I really liked the clip of his playing.
I play dulcimer in an Irish group here in the USA. We're working on a Macedonian Cunovo Oro in 7/8 to play into a set of Irish jigs, just to keep things lively. We were inspired here by highland bagpiper Allan MacDonald who is known to play Greek and Balkan tunes in sets with Scottish pipe repetory! The set consist of two 6/8 pieces a 9/8 piece and concludes with the 7/8 tune, and is a lot of fun, but not for dancing!!!
I am very happy seeing people interested in santouri and Greek music. I think that Sousamlis didn't put anything into his hammers which were made of metal instead of wood. This is very noticable as his sound is very hard.