The rizitika songs are traditional songs of Crete. They were so named because they come from their ancestors, the roots (rizes) of the people and also from the people who lived in the “roots” of the mountains.
The rizitika songs are used to express many different feelings. They are songs of the panel (the table), the strata (en route), and also played at weddings, at parties and christenings, i.e. at festivals. They are heroic – rebellious against the invaders, a historical narrative of exile, religious, allegorical, romantic, pastoral, etc. The music accompanying the rizitika songs is serious and the lyrics usually show the suffering of the people and thus they are not to be danced.
The rizitika songs are sung in 32 tunes, or in a group – choir, or a semi-lyric is performed by a singer and then is repeated by a chorus of friends. They do not always rhyme; verse is not always in fifteen syllables.
The rizitika songs are rarely accompanied by lute, violin or lyre. The Cretans, before and after, sing in slow melodies the syrto of Chania with serenades.
The most famous rizitiko song is “Xasteria (Clear Skies)” that was made widely known throughout Greece in the 20th century by Nikos Xylouris.