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Rembetika: Greek Music from the Underworld - Baglamas, Bouzoukis

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Editorial Reviews

The origins of the music we know as Rembetika are obscure. It dates from the mid-nineteenth century, perhaps earlier.It can be roughly divided into two schools:- That created by the Greek population of Ottoman cities such as Constantinople (Istanbul) and Smyrna (Izmir). In the main, it was played in places of entertainment by professional musicians using, chiefly, Violin, lyra, Sandouri, guitar and mandolin. However, the fact that there also existed a rougher, more underground, form is evidenced by the 'brothel' recordings of around 1912 . - That based in the underworld of homeland Greece, where a second form of Rembetika, was played in enclosed places such as hash-dens and prisons. This was more a music of non-professional musicians performing on guitar, baglamas and bouzouki. Recording began as early as 1905, in Constantinople. Until 1914 engineers from England and Germany made trips to the Near East to record Greek and other local musicians. After WW1, and the Greek- Turkish war which followed it, recording of Greek music by international labels switched mainly to Athens. Between ca.1925 and 1937 a wealth of material was recorded, much of it of a semi-underground nature - a phenomenon that appears to be unique in world music. However, in 1936 a Fascist government under took power and introduced a censorship that took time to be fully implemented. Nevertheless, in 1937 hard-core Rembetica retreated underground. It reappeared briefly on record in June, 1946, but censorship was quickly reimposed.REMBETICAThe etymology of the words Rembetis and Rembetico (plural Rembetica) is unclear. The word Rembetico first appeared on a record label around 1911. It was used to describe a song of mildly erotic, bohemian content and its use on record labels until the mid 1920s was, generally, to describe such material. However, over the years, the word has come to signify pieces of a stronger underworld nature.

Rembetika: Greek Music from the Underworld - Baglamas, Bouzoukis