Songs Of The Greek Underworld: The Rebetika Tradition

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9780863563683: Songs Of The Greek Underworld: The Rebetika Tradition
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The tradition of rebetika song is at the root of all that is most vibrant and subversive in the popular music of modern Greece. In its origins it is the music of the poor, the dispossessed, the refugees and the migrants who came to Greece from Asia Minor before and after the First World War.

The Greek edition of this book is entitled Rebetology, thus according this musical and social subculture its rightful place in the academic study of Greek culture. Written as a broad-brush introduction to rebetika song, this concise and well-argued book details the everyday life of the rebetes ­ who they were, where they came from, how they dressed, their weapons and styles of fighting, their sexual preferences, their culture of hashish and of prison life, all of which form the substance of their songs.

Petropoulos flies in the face of traditional Greek academia with his painstaking explanation of how this apparently most Greek of musical cultures has thoroughly cosmopolitan roots; Turkish, Albanian, gypsy and Jewish. By tracing the figure of the rebetis back to the Ottoman empire, he shows how the language and music of rebetika song were imbued with Turkish influences, and how its ethos was one of free love, criminal behaviours and a challenge to established social norms.

Songs of the Greek Underworld is not only a learned and erudite text, accompanied by breakdowns of the rhythms and metric patterns of the different musics and their associated dances, but a salutary reminder of the shared cultural roots of Turkey and Greece. The book includes the text of songs from the tradition, and over ten line drawings by A. Kanavakis and 34 photographs.

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About the Author:

Elias Petropoulos is a poet, collector of songs, and a determined documenter of the manners and mores of the Greeks. His free-thinking views on sexuality, criminality, drugs and religion have made him anathema to establishment Greece. The publication of Rebetika Songs [Rebetika Traghoudhia] earned him a five-month prison sentence under the Greek Junta in 1968. At the age of 70, living in Paris as a self-willed exile, he is a powerhouse of ethnographic and literary activity. His other books include The Manual of the Good Thief, Holy Hashish:18 Texts on the Underworld, The Social History of the Condom and The Cemeteries of Greece.

Review:

'A highly entertaining and informative account of the rebetika culture.' --Chris Williams, Times Literary Supplement

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9780863563980: Songs Of The Greek Underworld: The Rebetika Tradition

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ISBN 10:  0863563988 ISBN 13:  9780863563980
Publisher: Saqi Books, 2000
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ISBN 10: 0863563686 ISBN 13: 9780863563683
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