History of Bouzouki

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Bouzouki is an instrument that gives life to many tales with its melodies. The history of Bouzouki as we know it today is no more than 100 years old. It has deep historical connections both with Greek Music and Turkish music, and it found itself a place even in Irish folk music in this short period. 

What is Bouzouki? 

bouzouki

Bouzouki is a string instrument. It has resemblances with Turkish baglama and mandolin. In time, instrument masters redesigned it any bouzoukis vary by appearance, size, and string numbers. First bouzoukis in history were, just like baglama, six-stringed in 3 courses, but today the most popular kind of bouzouki is eight-stringed in four courses. Because of its metal strings, its sound resembles a little bit of a mandolin, but with a lower pitch. Bouzouki has a similar tuning pattern to guitar. It played with a plectrum. 

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Which Region Does the Bouzouki Belong to? 

bouzouki

Bouzouki was used in Greece and Turkey. Bouzouki was used in a musical genre called 'Rembetiko' (Rebetiko), which was a synthesis of European music and carried to Greek and Ottoman traditional music motifs. Bouzouki is an instrument that carries these cultural effects, an essential instrument in this music genre. Bouzouki is also used a lot in Greek pop and folk music. In Turkey, Bozouki was used in Rum (Greek-originated people) songs.  

Bouzouki was used in Irish folk songs. In the 1960s an Irish folk music group started to use four courses bouzoukis, and it became a very central instrument for Irish music. In time, Irish bouzouki evolved to an altogether different Instrument. They changed the pear-shaped body to a flat back and added straight sides. This kind of bouzouki is nowadays called Irish Bouzouki. If you are looking for a good quality bouzouki, you can find all these kinds on Sala Music website. 

What is the History of Bouzouki? 

bouzouki

Used hundreds of years ago, Bouzouki has connections with Greek ancestors. But actually, it was invented in the 20th century. It has told that bouzouki has first appeared after Anatolian Greeks (Rum) immigrated to Greece in 1922, and Bouzouki’s first design was created by people who brought their baglamas with them. There is a story about the invention of bouzouki and how it takes its name:

One of the immigrants wants to get fixed with his baglama and goes to an instrument store. The instrument maker says that he cannot mend it, but he can make a new one by examining it. He accepts it and leaves his baglama to the store. After a while, he comes to the store to pick up a new baglama. But he sees that the instrument he receives is a different one from baglama in design and sound. The immigrant man gets mad, yells ‘Bozuk!’ (broken/faulty) and leaves the store. But the instrument maker likes the instrument and keeps it. They call it bouzouki in Greek, and some musicians who take a liking to it, play it. After a short while bouzouki is a popular instrument!’

Although it is an urban legend, it is a known fact that bouzouki came from Anatolian baglama. Baglama and bouzouki are direct descendents of a lute family called thabouras. Even today, the instruments keep some resemblances to their ancestors yet continue evolving. To explore more about bouzouki, you can see a selection of them on Sala Music website. 

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