Bouzouki
Overview
 
The bouzouki is a musical instrument with Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 origin in the lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

 family. A mainstay of modern Greek music, the front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum
Plectrum
A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick, and is a separate tool held in the player's hand...

 and has a sharp metallic sound, reminiscent of a mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

 but pitched lower. There are two main types of bouzouki. The three-course with three pairs of strings (known as courses) and the four-course having four pairs of strings.
Bouzouki in Turkish means "broken (from ), not functioning, modified." Here it is used in order to specify the size of the instrument, because of its modified (not proper) nature.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The bouzouki is a musical instrument with Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 origin in the lute
Lute
Lute can refer generally to any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back, or more specifically to an instrument from the family of European lutes....

 family. A mainstay of modern Greek music, the front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum
Plectrum
A plectrum is a small flat tool used to pluck or strum a stringed instrument. For hand-held instruments such as guitars and mandolins, the plectrum is often called a pick, and is a separate tool held in the player's hand...

 and has a sharp metallic sound, reminiscent of a mandolin
Mandolin
A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

 but pitched lower. There are two main types of bouzouki. The three-course with three pairs of strings (known as courses) and the four-course having four pairs of strings.

Name

Bouzouki in Turkish means "broken (from ), not functioning, modified." Here it is used in order to specify the size of the instrument, because of its modified (not proper) nature. It might be concluded, therefore, that the bouzouki has been named after the jargon of the Turkish saz by the Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 living in Turkey.
An alternative popular etymology maintains that the word bouzouki was used because different tunings (the Turkish 'düzen') are required for the instrument to play in different musical scales (known as Dromoi in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, Maqam. ;"Around the turn of the century in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and Piraeus
Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

 musicians adapted the Turkish saz to their needs, replacing the tied frets with metal frets like those of mandolins and guitars , and in the process abandoning the 1/4 tone system for the Western tempered tuned chromatic scale. By the 20's they had further changed the construction from solid carved saz bodies to mandolin-like bowl backs and had also added machine pegs, and settled on D A D as the tuning of the paired courses, the lowest pair including high octave double. The instrument was played with Greek guitars and a miniature version of itself tuned an octave higher. These instrumentals both are kind of transformation of ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 Pandoura , the larger version called bouzouki and the diminutive baglamas.

History

The origin of Bouzouki as a descendant of ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 and eastern instruments, locates in ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, where there had been an instrument known as the pandura
Pandura
The pandura is an ancient Greek string instrument from the Mediterranean basin.It is derived from pandur, a Sumerian term for long-necked lutes...

 or pandourion, also called the "trichordo" because it had three strings; it was the first fretted instrument known, forerunner of the various families of lutes worldwide. The source of our knowledge about this instrument is the Mantineia
Mantineia
Mantineia was a city in ancient Greece that was the site of two significant battles in Classical Greek history. It is also a former municipality in Arcadia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tripoli, of which it is a municipal unit. Its seat...

 marble (4th century BC), now exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens
National Archaeological Museum of Athens
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens houses some of the most important artifacts from a variety of archaeological locations around Greece from prehistory to late antiquity. It is considered one of the great museums in the world and contains the richest collection of artifacts from Greek...

, depicting the mythical contest between Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 and Marsyas
Marsyas
In Greek mythology, the satyr Marsyas is a central figure in two stories involving music: in one, he picked up the double flute that had been abandoned by Athena and played it; in the other, he challenged Apollo to a contest of music and lost his hide and life...

, where a pandura is being played by a muse seated on a rock. The three-string, also known by the Hellenized name of Pandoura, refers primarily by lexicographers Pollux
Pollux
Pollux may refer to:Astronomy*Pollux , *Pollux, a crater on the Saturnian moon EpimetheusFictional characters*Pollux Black, a pureblood wizard, grandfather of Sirius Black in the Harry Potter universeGames...

 (2nd century AD) Hesychios , the Athenian and Nicomachus
Nicomachus
Nicomachus was an important mathematician in the ancient world and is best known for his works Introduction to Arithmetic and Manual of Harmonics in Greek. He was born in Gerasa, in the Roman province of Syria , and was strongly influenced by Aristotle...

 and Shown in clay figurines of 330-200 BC in the hands of women.

From Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 times it was called pandouras and then tambouras
Tambouras
The tambouras , is a traditional Greek string instrument. It has existed since at least the 10th century, when it was known in Assyria and Egypt. At that time, it might have between two and six strings, but Arabs adopted it, and called it a toubour...

 (Elizabeth Jeffreys, John Haldon, Robin Cormack, The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, Oxford University Press, 2008, p928. Cf. Nikos Maliaras, Byzantina mousika organa, EPN 1023, ISΒN 978-960-7554-44-4). On display in the National Historical Museum of Greece is the tambouras
Tambouras
The tambouras , is a traditional Greek string instrument. It has existed since at least the 10th century, when it was known in Assyria and Egypt. At that time, it might have between two and six strings, but Arabs adopted it, and called it a toubour...

 of a hero of the Greek revolution
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

 of 1821, General Makriyiannis. Other sizes have developed and include the Greek instrumental Tzouras
Tzouras
The Tzouras , is a stringed musical instrument from Greece. It is related to the Bouzouki.It has 6 strings in 3 courses and is tuned D3 D4, A3 A3, D4 D4 or D4 D3, A3 A3, D4 D4. The strings are made of steel.-See also:*Greek musical instruments...

 ,smaller in size than the standard.

The early bouzoukia were mostly three-string (trichordo), with three courses (six strings in three pairs) and were tuned in different ways, as to the scale one wanted to play.

At the end of the 1950s, four-course (Tetrachordo) bouzoukia started to gain popularity. The four-course bouzouki was made popular by Manolis Chiotis who also used a tuning akin to standard guitar tuning, which made it easier for guitarists to play bouzouki, even as it angered purists. The first recording was made in 1958.

The Irish bouzouki
Irish bouzouki
The Irish bouzouki is a development of the octave mandolin adapted for Irish traditional and other folk music from the late 1960s onward.-Adoption for Celtic music:...

, with four courses, a flatter back, and differently tuned from the Greek bouzouki, is a more recent development, dating back to the 1960s.The Irish bouzouki became popular around the same time, with four pairs of strings and a flatter back.

The Three-course Bouzouki (Trichordo)

This is the classical type of bouzouki that was the mainstay of most Rebetiko
Rebetiko
Rebetiko, plural rebetika, , occasionally transliterated as Rembetiko, is a term used today to designate originally disparate kinds of urban Greek folk music which have come to be grouped together since the so-called rebetika revival, which started in the 1960s and developed further from the early...

 music. It has fixed frets and it has 6 strings in three pairs. In the lower-pitched (bass) course, the pair consists of a thick wound string and a thin string tuned an octave apart. The conventional modern tuning of the trichordo bouzouki is Dd-aa-dd. This tuning was called the "European tuning" by Markos Vamvakaris
Markos Vamvakaris
Markos Vamvakaris , was a rebetiko musician. He is universally referred to by rebetiko writers and fans simply by his first name, Markos...

, who described several other tunings, or douzenia, in his autobiography. The illustrated bouzouki was made by Karolos Tsakirian of Athens, and is a replica of a trichordo bouzouki made by his grandfather for Markos Vamvakaris
Markos Vamvakaris
Markos Vamvakaris , was a rebetiko musician. He is universally referred to by rebetiko writers and fans simply by his first name, Markos...

 and became more famous from Manolis Chiotis
Manolis Chiotis
Manolis Chiotis was a Greek Rebetiko composer, singer and bouzouki player. He was born on March 21, 1920 in Thessaloniki and died in 1970.- See also :* Bouzouki* Rebetes* Rebetiko* Laiko* Greek nightclubs* Greek music...

. The absence of the heavy mother of pearl ornamentation often seen on modern bouzoukia is typical of bouzoukia of the period. It has tuners for eight strings, but has only six strings, the neck being too narrow for eight. The luthiers of the time often used sets of four tuners on trichordo instruments, as these were more easily available, since they were used on mandolins.

The Four-course Bouzouki (Tetrachordo)

This type of bouzouki has 8 metal strings which are arranged in 4 pairs, known as courses, typically tuned Cc Ff aa dd (i.e., one whole note below the four high strings of a guitar). In the two higher-pitched (treble
Treble (sound)
Treble refers to tones of high frequency or range. In music this corresponds to high notes, and for this reason the treble clef is often used for instruments with higher pitch. Examples of treble sounds are guitar tones, female voice , young boy voice, etc. They have frequencies above 9 KHz. Treble...

) courses, the two strings of the pair are tuned to the same note. In the two lower-pitched (bass) courses, the pair consists of a thick wound string and a thin string tuned an octave
Octave
In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

 apart. These 'octave strings' add to the fullness of the sound and are used in chords and bass drones (continuous low notes that are played throughout the music). The guitar-like tuning was introduced by composer and soloist Manolis Chiotis
Manolis Chiotis
Manolis Chiotis was a Greek Rebetiko composer, singer and bouzouki player. He was born on March 21, 1920 in Thessaloniki and died in 1970.- See also :* Bouzouki* Rebetes* Rebetiko* Laiko* Greek nightclubs* Greek music...

, who found it better suited to the kind of virtuoso playing he was famous for. Traditionalists shun the 4-course as they feel it alters the character of the instrument.
Many musicians such as the aforementioned Chiotis and Giorgos Zampetas
Giorgos Zampetas
Giorgos Zampetas was a well-known bouzouki musician. He was born on January 25, 1925 in Athens but his origins are from Kythnos. He died on March 10, 1992 in Athens.-Early years:...

 began using specially designed pickups to achieve a slightly thicker humbucker
Humbucker
A humbucker is a type of electric guitar pickup, first patented by Seth Lover and the Gibson company, that uses two coils, both generating string signal. Humbuckers have higher output than a single coil pickup since both coils are connected in series...

-like sound in the mid-1960s. These pickups are widely used by several Greek artists today and came in active and (usually) passive versions.

The Greek Baglamas

The Greek baglamas (Greek μπαγλαμάς) or baglamadaki (Greek μπαγλαμαδάκι), is very different from the Turkish bağlama
Baglama
thumb|180px|Cura and bağlamaThe bağlama is a stringed musical instrument shared by various cultures in the Eastern Mediterranean, Near East, and Central Asia....

. The treble bouzouki is pitched an octave higher (nominally D-A-D), with unison pairs on the four highest strings and an octave pair on the lower D. Musically, the baglamas is most often found supporting the bouzouki in the Piraeus
Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

 style of rembetika.

Notable bouzouki players

  • Manolis Chiotis
    Manolis Chiotis
    Manolis Chiotis was a Greek Rebetiko composer, singer and bouzouki player. He was born on March 21, 1920 in Thessaloniki and died in 1970.- See also :* Bouzouki* Rebetes* Rebetiko* Laiko* Greek nightclubs* Greek music...

  • Giannis Tatasopoulos
    Giannis Tatasopoulos
    Giannis Tatasopoulos was a Greek musician and renowned bouzouki master, soloist, and composer who achieved a number one hit in the national Greek charts in the 1950s and appeared a number of times on Greek national television. In the mid-1950s many of the top bouzouki soloists, including Giannis...

  • Babis Tsertos
    Babis Tsertos
    Haralambos Tsertos was born in Tropea of Arcadia, Greece on October 27, 1956. He is brother of the singer Nadia Karagianni. His father was a musician too, and he was playing the Mandolin...

  • Vassilis Tsitsanis
    Vassilis Tsitsanis
    Vassilis Tsitsanis was a Greek songwriter and bouzouki player. He became one of the leading Greek composers of his time and is widely regarded as one of the founders of modern Rebetika. Tsitsanis wrote more than 500 songs and is still remembered as an extraordinary bouzouki...

  • Markos Vamvakaris
    Markos Vamvakaris
    Markos Vamvakaris , was a rebetiko musician. He is universally referred to by rebetiko writers and fans simply by his first name, Markos...

  • Nikos Vrachnas
    Nikos Vrachnas
    Nikos Vrachnas was a rembetiko bouzouki player who in his playing evoked the Piraeus rembetiko style of the 1930s.- Biography :Nikos Vrachnas was born into a poor family in Nikaia Piraeus. There is some uncertainty about his year of birth, which has been given variously as circa 1936, or 1941. He...

  • Giorgos Zampetas
    Giorgos Zampetas
    Giorgos Zampetas was a well-known bouzouki musician. He was born on January 25, 1925 in Athens but his origins are from Kythnos. He died on March 10, 1992 in Athens.-Early years:...


See also

  • Greek music
  • Greek folk music
    Greek folk music
    Greek folk music includes a variety of Greek styles played by ethnic Greeks in Greece, Cyprus, Australia, the United States and elsewhere. Apart from the common music found all-around Greece, there are distinct types of folk music, sometimes related to the history or simply the taste of the...

  • Laouto
    Laouto
    The laouto is a long-neck fretted instrument of the lute family, found in Greece, and similar in appearance to the oud. It is played in most respects like the oud .- Construction :...

    , another Greek lute
  • Stringed instrument tunings
    Stringed instrument tunings
    This is a list of tunings for stringed musical instruments. Strings or courses are listed from low to high pitch, reading from left to right facing the front of the instrument standing vertically...

  • Rebetiko
    Rebetiko
    Rebetiko, plural rebetika, , occasionally transliterated as Rembetiko, is a term used today to designate originally disparate kinds of urban Greek folk music which have come to be grouped together since the so-called rebetika revival, which started in the 1960s and developed further from the early...

  • Laiko
    Laïkó
    Laïkó ), is a Greek music genre. Also called folk song or urban folk music , in its plural form is a Greek music genre which has taken many forms over the years...

  • Tzouras
    Tzouras
    The Tzouras , is a stringed musical instrument from Greece. It is related to the Bouzouki.It has 6 strings in 3 courses and is tuned D3 D4, A3 A3, D4 D4 or D4 D3, A3 A3, D4 D4. The strings are made of steel.-See also:*Greek musical instruments...

  • Irish bouzouki
    Irish bouzouki
    The Irish bouzouki is a development of the octave mandolin adapted for Irish traditional and other folk music from the late 1960s onward.-Adoption for Celtic music:...

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