Vasilias Tsitsanis, Rebetiko Royalty

In the 1920s and 1930s a new form of music became popular among the Greek “underclass.” This music, known as rebetiko (also written as “rembetiko”), marked an essential step in the newly “exchanged” Greek population’s assertion of its national identity. Rebetiko composers and performers applied Western instruments to Turkish modes and melodies, transforming the Turkish makamat (modes) into similar Greek “dromoi” (or, “routes”). The most prolific and influential rebetiko composer was Vassilis Tsitsanis, who composed for almost every popular rebetiko vocalist and also played bouzouki and performed many of his own 500 or so songs.  Watch Tsitsanis himself perform live in the ’70s (the music starts at 1:05).