Origin of the word "Rebetiko"

Testing our knowledge!


Saint Sofia Church:Created with 3D software by SDimis

As I am waiting photographs from my bouzouki construction by Giannis, I thought to write a short article regarding information I have collected for the origin of the unique word "Rebetiko".

Cheking the etymology of the word in Wikipedia, we find that Rebetiko is a term used to designate a kind of urban Greek folk music, where bouzouki became the emblematic instrument of it.But the discovery of the word Rebetiko on the label of two records for gramophone, became the reason for great speculation .

Rebetiko emerged in the 1920s as the urban folk music of Greek society's outcasts.
In 1922, many ethnic Greeks from Asia Minor (especially from Smyrna and Constantinople) fled to Greece as a result of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922, also called the War in Asia Minor.They settled in poor neighborhoods in Piraeus, Thessaloniki, and Athens. Many of these immigrants were highly educated musicians, songwriters, artists and performers of songs (instrumentalists and singers).Some of those musicians became quickly studio directors and Artists & Repertoire professionals (A&R), of major record enterprises.

Also the years following the Asia Minor Disaster, a great number of Greeks emigrated to the United States, bringing their musical traditions with them. The first Greek-American recording enterprises made their appearance in 1919. From the latter years of the second decade of the century there exist a number of recordings that can be considered as rebetiko, a few years before such songs began to appear on recordings in Greece.

There is a certain amount of recorded Greek material from the first two decades of the 20th century, recorded in Constantinople/Istanbul, and in United States, of which isolated examples have some bearing on rebetiko.

But worth our attention that the first appearance of the word "rembetiko", was somewhere between 1910 and 1913 on the labels of two records for gramophone recorded in Constantinople, where the music style on these records (music for operetta) is very far from what we call as rebetiko music today!


  1. Hi,

    Good and laconic writing.
    I would like to invite you to:

    elkibra-rebetiko.blogspot.com (Thorax and Mind)
    elkibra-rebetiko2.blogspot.com (in English)

    Take care
    Kostas Ladopoulos elkibra) - from Stockholm

  2. Dear Kosta,
    Thank you for your kind invitation.
    What a beautiful writting and a great collection of audio-visual material,someone can find in your blogs!

    Warmest Regards


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