Rembetika - Greek Music from the Underground - 4 CD box set
Rembetika - Greek Music from the Underground - 4 CD box set
Rembetika - Greek Music from the Underground - 4 CD box set
Rembetika - Greek Music from the Underground - 4 CD box set

Rembetika - Greek Music from the Underground - 4 CD box set

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Rembetika - Greek Music from the Underground - 4 CD box set

This 4 CD box set is an amazing collection of songs dating from the period when Greeks from Asia Minor were forced to become refugees in Greece, after the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-22, the end of the Ottoman Empire, with the formation of Turkey. Many of the Greek refugees ended up in Piraeus bringing with them a rich collection of musical traditions, both classical and popular, known as rembetika. Lyrics of the underworld tended to focus on "meraki, kefi, and kaimos" (μεράκι, κέφι, καημός) - love, joy, and sorrow More on Rembetiko

This collection follows the evolution of music amongst those musicians and professional musicians from Greece who came to enjoy the style, between 1925 and 1947. Each CD covers a slightly different period and style:

1. The Ottoman Legacy: the ottoman empire was a rich mix of races and religious with highly developed musical traditions. This CD contains songs typical of smyrneika - or cafe music, with a more mixed cultural sound than later Rebetika. Songs from Marika Papagika, Rita Abadzi, Roza eskenazi, Kalvopoulos, Dalgas, Sophroniou and more

2. Piraeus Heavy Hitters 1934-46 - The rembetica which developed in the port of Piraeus was a music of the underwold, played by male part-time musicians in enclosed places such as 'tekedhes', and prinsons. They played on baglamas, bouzouki, and other instruments. Until Jack Halikias cut Minore Tou deke in New York in January 1932 (CD 3) the bouzouki wasthought 'beyond the pale' and it was rarely recorded. But Halikias' recording encouraged Greek record companies to start looking at bouzouki in a new light.....and Greek popular music has been dominated by the bouzouki ever since!

3. Dope, Dice, Guitars, Knives 'n such 1928-46 - music from non-professional musicians in prisons and tekhedes 'comparable to American 'blues' music - gradually began to influence professional musicians and appear on record, taking a more sophisticated sound over time

4. Rembetika after censorship - Metaxas came down heavily on the production of rembetiko music, particularly the lyrics, as well as the dens where the music was performed. This was the 'classic phase' where elements of the Piraeus style (bouzouki-based), the asia minor style (baglamas, lyra, guitar, clarinet, piano and many more - see below) with clear western european and other Greek styles fused generally to create a unique style. Lyrics began to lose their identifying 'underworld' flavour.

The lyrics of rembetika are based on

The core instruments of rebetiko, from the mid-1930s onwards, have been the bouzouki, the baglamas and the guitar. Instruments characteristic of the Ottoman café style included accordion, politiki (Constantinopolitan) lyra, clarinet, kanonaki, oud, santur, tsimbalo, or cimbalom, violin, violoncello and finger-cymbals. Several of these instruments were also used in rebetiko songs of other than Ottoman character. Other instruments heard on rebetiko recordings include: double bass, laouto, mandola, mandolin and piano. In some recordings, the sound of clinking glass may be heard. This sound is produced by drawing worry beads (komboloi) against a fluted drinking glass, originally an ad hoc and supremely effective rhythmic instrument, probably characteristic of teké and taverna milieux, and subsequently adopted in the recording studios.