Rebetika – Traditional Greek music from the 1920’s onwards

1920’s Turkish style Rebetika is most famously sung and played by Mikis Theodorakis. His music is often referenced in Victoria Hislop books (my effort is here A life of Halcyon Days) as there set in either the same era or afterwards as he has had such an influence on the music of the area. It’s often comprised of guitars and bouzouki. Sometimes containing bouzoukia which are smaller versions as well. Literature from the period details very little from the musical point of view. Even in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin there isn’t much about this. The mandolin must be only in Corfu as I’ve never seen one here Lefkás before. I’ve also not come across mention of the music in the books I’ve read about the Durells family. I think Gerry was too interested in his animals and although Lawrence was interested in a great many things, it doesn’t seem that music was one of those.

I got a bilingual book on this subject as shown above. So it was good for me to learn about this evocative style of music that has been so influential on Greek culture. Rebetika has changed so much over the years through the many musicians that have practiced it. The instruments changed into electronic versions, the venues changed drastically as did the clientele and the amount of money that could be made improved significantly. However, all things have there dips also and many rebirths mean that the style will always evolve to suit its circumstances. Sometimes simpler and covert, other times flashy and ostentatious.

For a taste of even older Greek music see here Ancient Greek music.

This is part of my series on Greek music and musicians.

Mikis Theodorakis

Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

Do you have any similar styles of music in your country?

Best wishes

Angela

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