Smyrneika & Rebetika
was the Greek cabaret tradition from Smyrna (Izmir), songs born in the
Anatolian tavern, or cafe-aman. Intricate melodies and popular
sing-along refrains (often reflecting the musical influence of Smyrna's
Turkish, Armenian, and Jewish populations), were set to sensual dance
rhythms (tsiftetelli, karsilama), and played on the santouri,
outi, violi, clarino, doumbeleki, and zilia.
The colorful lyrics centered around love (usually unrequited but hopeful),
nostalgia (for the lost homeland), and the celebration of life through
music and dance. These songs required a combination of superb vocal
skills and a flair for entertaining on the part of singers - Antonis
Dalgas, Roza Eskenazi, Rita Abadzi, Marika Kanaropoulou, and others
- whose virtuosity and artistry still shine through the hiss of surviving
78s. * Kefi is an ebullient mood, an intense state of mind, considered
essential for making music.The irrepressible kefi of the Asia
Minor refugees resulted in a rich musical legacy, a testament to the
indestructible Greek spirit. As Roza Eskinazi wrote: "We sang for
the world. Our songs had a genuine, true feeling, full of joy, verve,
tonight I want to get drunk,
|Rebetika was the heavier "blues" style which developed when Anatolian refugees, finding themselves unwelcome and assimilation difficult, combined musical forces with Athens' lower class. Initially there was much cross-pollination with the Smyrneic genre, but these songs reflected the harsher realities of lives spent forgetting misfortunes through drinking, gambling, womanizing, and smoking hashish. Smyrneic instrumentalists and vocalists joined with, but soon gave way to, the bouzouki, baglama, guitar, and a blunter style of singing. At first shunned by the Athenian bourgeoisie, this music eventually achieved popularity and respect.|
Dervisaki [hashish smoker],
won't you stop smoking the dalmira.
Again you want to get stoned,
and take it out on me.
Aman, my dervish,
again you break dalga [escape your blues],
Aman, my dervish,
don't smoke the black stuff!
(From Dervisaki, recorded by Andonis Diamandides, 1931)
Four rebetes: Stratos Payioumidzis,
Batis, and Anestos Dhelias, ca. 1935