My Love For Greek Rebetiko Music

Greek rebetico music

Do you like Greek music?  And do you remember which were the first Greek songs you really liked and where you heard them?

My love for Greek music started a long time ago. Strangely enough, I grew up with it, although I had never visited Greece till I was a university student, neither I have Greek parents.  As a child, I listened constantly to the Greek musical genre “rebetiko”, in my Belgian bedroom, although back then I had no idea this kind of music was called “rebetiko”! The harsh and rough voices, accompanied by the Greek rhythms and bouzouki instrument, blended perfectly together with my teenager rebelling years! I did not understand a word, but this was of no importance! It was cool 😊 .

By the way, I recently learned that the Greek rebetiko was added to the UNESCO’s 2017 representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. Apparently this musical genre was selected because it contains “invaluable references to the customs, practices, and traditions of a particular way of life.” UNESCO recognized rebetiko’s “dynamic character” and its development as “a powerful reference point for the collective memory and identity of the Greeks.”

I totally agree and therefore asked the Omilo Greek Language and Culture School to write an eBook, which will help you understand more about Rebetiko music.


Do you also want to learn more about Rembetiko music?
You can start right now and discover more about Greek music by reading the eBook about Rembetiko music while listening to some beautiful songs. 

Then click on the button below and order your eBook

The eBook includes:
• a short overview of how the Rembetiko music developed
• which instruments are used
• which composers have had an important influence on Rembetiko.
• short exercises to improve your Greek (including an answer key)
• links so that you can listen to the songs while reading the eBook
So how Greek music ended up in my Belgian bedroom, and why I liked it so much, you might ask?

The most probable explanation is the one you will read below, although it is not scientifically proven.

My father was an artist and a teacher in photography, and many years ago he loved to take photos of emotions, sports events, concerts, real-life situations, which were used as examples to his students. In the sixties, there were many Greek cafes in the Antwerp harbor, where Greek seamen could connect, socialize, drink their wine, ouzo, or something stronger, as well as sing and dance. From time to time my parents would visit those cafes in Antwerp and my father would make artistic photographs of Greeks putting their heart and soul in every move while dancing.
My mother on the other hand always had a weak spot for ethnic and folk music, so by holding her micro and recorder, she happily taped all the music. When my mother was pregnant with me, her 4th child, it was the first time she was granted a  3-month pregnancy leave from her teaching job. She happily used those months to reorganize all the recorded Greek music from small tapes to bigger tapes (for the younger readers, there were no computers, Spotify, internet,  …. in the sixties!)  .

So by doing this, it actually means that I have listened to Greek music, in my mother’s womb, for many months, and it seems it became my natural habit. There is no other explanation!

Many years later, I realized that Greek music in general, so also other genres than rebetiko,  puts me in a very good mood. I feel like coming home.
And even more years later, learning Greek enabled me to sing along and understand the beautiful lyrics at last.
I know, Greek songs are not always so easy to understand, but even when you do not understand everything, remembering the refrain or even just some of the words will go a long way to helping you acquire more and more Greek.
Are you ready to listen to some Rembetiko songs and learn some extra Greek vocabulary?
Then click on the button below and order your eBook
Do you listen already to Greek music?
Then feel free to let me know in the comments below which song or composer are your favorites?
PS. Also interested to start learning Greek while getting to know the real Greece? Then the Omilo Greek Language and Culture school is happy to welcome you in Greece 🙂

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