Michel playing baglama

The love of the old greek rebetiko music drove me to learn play baglama and bouzouki. Let me explain little about Rebetiko Music.

The old Rebetiko songs (the term Greek blues has also being used) was composed from self learned musicians in the early 19th strongly influenced from the Asia minor (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatolia), many melodies came from much older folk music. My favorite era is the very early recordings before WW2, those song has simple melodies and the sound is dirty with oriental influences. The instrument used is bouzouki (6 string), violin, oud and baglama. The beats were held with finger-cymbals and even ordinary spoons or shot glasses. The rebetiko was a subcultural music composed and sang by the poorest in the Greek society and it didn’t get mainstream in Greece until the 1970th, therefore many songs have been forgotten over time. The oldest song recorded was around 1920 in USA.

Almost all old songs have been remade, with richer compositions and played with 8-string bouzouki. But I like to play the old versions of the songs. That is a little bit tricky though, cause it’s difficult to find any good sheet music (almost all the sheets are referring to the remakes), so I must rely on the original music recordings, learning videos and tablatures made from other enthusiasts.

Here is an example of an old recording from 1934 played, written and sang by Markos Vamvakaris. This melody is older than that though and more songs has been written on this melody:

Here comes one of the most famous remake recorded around the 1970th from Grigoris Mpithikotsis, the lyrics are the same, but the compositions changed:

For the remake lyrics in Greek and English: https://lyricstranslate.com/en/antilaloun-i-filakes-αντιλαλούν-οι-φυλακές-prisons-resound.html 

The original lyrics from Vamvakaris is:

Αντιλαλούν οι φυλακές, αντιλαλούνε οι φυλακές
Αντιλαλούν οι φυλακές, το Μπουρτζι κι ο Γεντι Κουλες.

Αντιλαλουν δυο σημαντρα,Συγγρού και Παραπήγματα.

Αν είσαι μάνα και πονείς, αν είσαι μάνα και πονείς
Αν είσαι μάνα και πονείς, έλα στη δίκη να με δεις.

Έλα πριν με δικάσουνε,κλάψε να μ’απαλάξουνε.

Το σκότος και η φυλακή, το σκότος και η φυλακή
Το σκότος και η φυλακή, είναι μεγάλο λακριντί.

Αντιλαλούνε οι φυλακές, αντιλαλούνε οι φυλακές
Αντιλαλούνε οι φυλακές, στον ηλιο κι ο Γεντι Κουλες.

Which version did you like?

Want some more info about Rebetiko, read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebetiko

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