Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Greek Music, Rebetiko Movement |

The roots of Greek music go as deep as Greek civilization does. It draws its origins from the ancient times of the Greek polis, the time of the birth of the western civilization, philosophy, art and democracy. Ancient Greeks respected and revered music and taught their children the art of music since an early age of six. The music of that time became the foundation of western religious and classical music and the prevailing instruments were lyre and kithara.

91xkiv4qrel-_aa1500_Greek music continued to develop and draw influences from neighboring countries, having first made a very strong impression on the music of Roman Empire. Byzantines also made a major influence on Greek music in the times after the fall of the Western Empire. The music continued to evolve during the Ottoman era, and by the time of the early 20th century, music-cafes or amanedhes, were very popular in the Greek world, mostly with female singers accompanied by a violin. At this time, the Rebetiko movement was also born.

Greek folk music or dhimotika, is comprised of Acritic songs and Klephtic songs, which have different origins. Acritic music has its roots in the music of the 9th century Byzantine Empire, in the „acritic“songs derived from the epic tales of conflicts of Byzantines and Arabs. Klephtic songs come from the time before the Greek revolution, from the tales of warriors that fought the Ottoman invaders.

In the sphere of classical music, two major schools are known: Ioanianschool, developed mostly under Venetian influence, and Greek national school, with ManolisKalomiris as the founder, which sought to introduce German romanticism into Greek national music traditions.

Greek popular music started to develop in the second half of the 19th century, mostly influenced by Italian serenades, with the most successful being Athenian serenades. Many notable composers and artists arose at this time and this form of music, both in popular venues as well as operas and operettas, was the main and most developed form of people’s music of the day. Wealthy people of Greece from all spheres of business like ship building, banking, trade and even a roofing company with a great reputation financed the early careers of promising young artists of the time.


After the 1930’s, Greek musicians were exposed to different styles of music from all over the world like tango, swing, samba, foxtrot etc. Rebetiko was a special style of music which arose in the 1920’s and soon spread all over Greece. Rebetiko singers usually came from the bottom of the society and sang of drug abuse, prison and violence and were scorned by the society. Nevertheless, Rebetiko rose to great popularity, even with being banned for certain periods of time. Later, Rebetikopaved the way for modern forms of Greek popular music which arose after the World War 2, like Entekhno and Laiko. Laiko, as the contemporary form of popular music, has its less-valued subgenres like laiko-pop and skyladiko, which are often criticized for its lesser artistic value and low quality lyrics and music.

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