Μάρθα Μαυροειδή (Martha Mavroidi) is a singer, lafta player and composer from Greece. Born in Athens, Martha grew up listening to folk music from around the globe. Her father, an ethnomusicologist and radio producer, introduced her to the music of the world's cultures, bringing home from his radio shows music records from Asia, Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East. At 12 she entered the Music High School of Athens where she specialized in Greek folk music, singing and playing various types of folk lutes. While still a student she developed an interest in the music of Turkey and studied the saz. Later she focused on the lafta, the Greek and Turkish folk lute which became her main instrument.
At the age of 23 she left Greece to pursue graduate studies in ethnomusicology in London at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where she found herself in a multicultural environment, interacting with musicians from different cultural backgrounds. In London she began her long-lasting relation with Bulgarian singing, studying with some of Bulgaria's most renowned singers. Her need to explore music beyond the boundaries of tradition led her to Amsterdam where she completed a Masters in Contemporary music at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam. She specialized in improvisation using non-western techniques in contemporary music contexts. There she began composing her own music, combining her folk music background with contemporary music trends.
Her fascination with world music persisted, however, and she moved to California to continue her graduate studies in ethnomusicology at UCLA, specializing in the music of the Balkans. In Los Angeles she became a part of the vivid Balkan music scene, collaborating with musicians and composers, as well as recording for the film industry and for independent productions as a singer and lafta player.
In 2005 she returned to Greece and she started collaborating with some of Greece's most celebrated musicians in concerts and recordings (Σαβίνα Γιαννάτου - Savina Yannatou, Διονύσης Σαββόπουλος - Dionissis Savvopoulos, Mode Plagal). At the same time she put together her own band, playing music from the Balkans and her own compositions. In 2008 she designed and had built an electric lafta, the first known electric lafta to be constructed, which has become her signature instrument. On the electric lafta she has incorporated different techniques that she has mastered as a folk musician with elements of contemporary music, creating a unique style of performance. Her compositions also reflect the multiplicity of her musical influences, blending folk melodies with jazz harmony and improvisation. She has composed music for films (Princess' Taste, Tomorrow already, Pink River, The guide), documentaries and dance theaters (M, Parrot, Guard Dog). As a singer she combines the rich colors of Bulgarian singing, with the ornaments and the microtonal subtleties of Greek and Middle Eastern singing. Both her vocal qualities and her virtuosity on the lafta have been praised by critics and fellow musicians in the Balkan-jazz music scene. In the beginning of 2010 she released her debut album "The garden of Rila" at WE SAW Productions.
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