Infobox Instrument

*Plucked string instrument
* Bağlama (Turkey)
* Cittern
* Tar (lute)

The bouzouki (gr. το μπουζούκι; pl. τα μπουζούκια) (plural sometimes transliterated as "bouzoukia") is the mainstay of modern Greek music. It is a stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body and a very long neck. The bouzouki is a member of the 'long neck lute' family and is similar to a mandolin. The front of the body is flat and is usually heavily inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument is played with a plectrum and has a sharp metallic sound.

Many musicians such as Manolis Chiotis and Giorgos Zampetas began using specially designed pickups to achieve a slightly thicker humbucker-like sound in the mid-1960s. These pickups are widely used by several Greek artists today and came in active and (usually) passive versions. Bouzouki pickup manufacturers include EMG, Lace Actodyne and Seymour Duncan.

There are two main types of bouzouki:

* "Three-course," having three pairs of strings (courses).
* "Four-course," having four pairs of strings.


In Greece, this instrument was known as the pandura 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 marble (4th century BC, now exhibited at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens), depicting the mythical contest between Apollo and Marsyas, where a pandouris is being played by a muse seated on a rock.

From Byzantine times it was called the tambouras. The modern Turkish Tanbur is practically identical to the ancient Greek pandouris. On display in the National Historical Museum of Greece is the tambouras of a hero of the Greek revolution of 1821, General Makriyiannis. This tambouras bears the main morphological characteristics of the bouzouki used by the Rebetes.

The Turkish Saz belongs to the same family of instruments as the bouzouki. A middle-sized kind of saz is called a "bozouk saz". Bozouk in Turkish means "broken, not functioning, modified". Here it is used in order to specify the size of the instrument. It is concluded, therefore, that the bouzouki has been named after the jargon of the Turkish saz. An alternative popular etymology maintains that the word "Bozouk" was used because different tunings (the Turkish 'düzen') are required for the instrument to play in different musical scales (known as Dromoi in Greek, Maqam (pl. Maqamat) in Arabic). A tuning known as the "bozouk düzeni" (broken tuning) still exists in Greek folk music.

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.

After the late '50s, four-course ("Tetrachordo") bouzoukia started to appear. The four-course Bouzouki was made popular by Manolis Chiotis. Chiotis also used a tuning akin to standard guitar tuning, which made it easier for guitarists to play bouzouki, even as it angered purists.

The Irish bouzouki, with four courses, a flatter back, and differently tuned from the Greek bouzouki, is a more recent development, dating back to the 1960s.

The three-course bouzouki (trichordo)

This is the classical type of bouzouki. It has fixed frets and it has 6 strings in three pairs, in modern times tuned Dd-aa-dd. This tuning was called the European tuning by Markos Vamvakaris, who described several other tunings, or douzenia, in his autobiography. This is the type of bouzouki that was used for rebetiko. The illustrated bouzouki is a replica of a trichordo bouzouki used by Markos Vamvakaris. It has tuners for eight strings, but has only six strings. 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 full note below the four high strings of a guitar). It was established in the scene by a major Rebetis, Manolis Chiotis, during the 1960s. In the two higher-pitched (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 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).

Notable players of the Greek bouzouki

*Giorgos Zampetas
*Markos Vamvakaris
*Vassilis Tsitsanis
*Manolis Chiotis
*Ioannis Papaioannou
*Bebis Stergiou
*Kostas Papadopoulos
*Lakis Karnezis
*Yiannis Halikias
*Kostas Kaplanis
*Spyros Peristeris
*Karolos Milanos
*Yiovan Tsaous
*Giorgos Mitsakis
*Stelios Makrydakis
*Alan Doyle
*Keith Urban

ee also

*Music of Greece
*Irish bouzouki
* Stringed instrument tunings

External links

* [ Karolos Tsakirian - Greek bouzouki luthier in Athens]
* [ - Bouzouki Spot - Greek Bouzouki Portal]
* [ - Bouzouki Portal]
* [ Bouzouki Luthier from N.Y. Babis Kioulos]
* [ Bouzouki Maker - George Stasinopoulos]
* [ - Greek Bouzouki Manufacturer in Thessaloniki]
* [ - Learn How to Play the Bouzouki]
* [ Scales for trichordo bouzouki (dromoi)]
* [ Bouzouki Chord Finder]
* [ Recording of bouzouki music, made available for public use by the State Archives of Florida]


Further reading

* cite book
title = The Greek Bouzouki Chord Bible: CFAD Standard Tuning 1,728 Chords
first = Tobe A.
last = Richards
location = United Kingdom
publisher = Cabot Books
year = 2007
id = ISBN 10: 0-9553944-8-1 ISBN 13: 978-0-9553944-8-5

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  • bouzouki — /boo zooh kee/, n., pl. bouzoukis, bouzoukia / kee euh/. n. a long necked, fretted lute of modern Greece. Also, bousouki, buzuki. [1950 55; < ModGk mpouzoúki; Turk bozuk (broken, ruined, depraved; cf. BASHI BAZOUK) or büzük (constricted,… …   Universalium

  • Bouzouki — Bou|zou|ki 〈[buzu:ki] f. 10〉 = Busuki * * * Bouzouki   [griechisch, bu zuki], Zupfinstrument, der Mandoline verwandt; griechisches Nationalinstrument; bauchiges, birnenförmiges Korpus, in der oberen Deckenhälfte angebrachtes ovales Schallloch;… …   Universal-Lexikon

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  • bouzouki — {{#}}{{LM B45387}}{{〓}} {{[}}bouzouki{{]}} {{■}}(gr.){{□}} {{《}}▍ s.m.{{》}} Instrumento musical de cuerda, parecido a la mandolina pero con un mástil más largo: • El bouzouki es un instrumento típico griego.{{○}} {{★}}{{\}}PRONUNCIACIÓN:{{/}}… …   Diccionario de uso del español actual con sinónimos y antónimos

  • bouzouki —    (boo ZOO kee) [Modern Greek, from Turkish] A modern Greek stringed instrument similar to a lute, with a long neck and fretted fingerboard.    We found a Greek nightclub with live bouzouki music and the added attraction of good food …   Dictionary of foreign words and phrases

  • bouzouki — noun (plural kis; also bouzoukia) Etymology: New Greek mpouzouki Date: 1952 a long necked stringed instrument of Greek origin that resembles a mandolin …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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