is a Greek Musical Instrument. It comes in 2 forms: 8 stringed mainly
and 6 six string. It became famous through music from Zorba the Greek
and Never on a Sunday. The Irish Bouzouki is derived from the Greek
Bouzouki is played with a small plectrum. In Greek it s referred to
as a 'penna'.
The instrument is used mainly for playing as a lead instrument or as
a filler when a singer sings. Famous
Greek Bouzouki music players are George Zambetas, Christos Nikolopoulos,
Manolis Hiotis, Harry Lemonopoulos, Vamvakaris, Bournelis, Mitsakis,
The modern version
has eight strings and is called
Tetraxordo (four course/eight string)
Older versions had 6 strings. The name of the strings for the 8
string version are in D (Re, highest), A (La), F (Fa) and C (Doh).
When some 6 string players converted to 8 strings, they kept their
old fingerings because they were used to it.
How to Play
1. Tuning your Bouzouki
tune up your Bouzouki. Use a guitar tuner that change its pitch to
suit the Bouzouki or a pitch fork. The 8 string bouzouki consists of
4 courses/8 strings. Each course is one treated as one string key. 8
strings tuning is like the first four strings of a guitar, however,
the tuning has been transposed by one tone lower. The 8 string
tuning is D = E, A = B, F= G and C= D. The guitar uses EBFD, from
treble to bass.
If you are using a six string
bouzouki, then the first string is called a D (Re), the second is A
(La) and the third is D (Re) again. The six string version uses a
different chord system.
2. Learn How to Play Chords
easiest method to learn the chords is to buy a guitar book and apply
the chords of the first four strings of the guitar to the bouzouki.
Once you have learnt the basic major and minor chords, you need to
work out what key a song is in. Using the first string (d), play
each fret until you find the main chord. Once you discover it, then
apply say a major or minor chord and hopefully you will find the
3. Plectrum Technique
plectrum is very important and you need to get a medium 'penna'
which is not to hard because the sound will jar and if its too thin,
then the plectrum will snap after a while. A good way to judge if
you are happy with the plectrum is when you hear that full
traditional acoustic bouzouki. Most plectrum movement is up and
down. It is highly advisable to buy some videos where you can watch
players and learn their techniques.
4. Learning to Play Melody
there is no one around to give you bouzouki lesson, you can either
learn how to play lead guitar and apply your techniues to your
bouzouki, or you can find a bouzouki teacher. It is highly advisable
to record your teacher and play the parts slowly say on a walkman or
computer so you can pick up the notes.
basis of Greek Music are the scales. They are called Dromi (Roads).
They have interesting names like Sambah, Rust, Hitskar, Ouzam etc.
master Greek Music, you need to understand the Rhythms. These include:
(7/8) - count: 123, 12, 12
(2/4) - slow rthym like the start of Siko Horespse Syrtaki
(2/4) - fast beat!
rhythms are still in use today! Greek Music has even adapted Rock
and Disco Rthythms within its modern music. Please note that songs
like Zorba the Greek and Never on a Sunday are easier to learn because
they use the common 4/4 beat.
If you want to perform I recommend
the Fender Twin Reverb which has a great sound. Please note: check
the values of your amp regularly so your sound remains crisp.
6. Maintaining your Bouzouki
you live in a hot climate, make sure you keep the bouzouki away from
intense heat because it can warp the neck and makes it harder to
play. If you are not using the Bouzouki for a long period, then
leave it un-tuned in your case. After performing always wipe the
strings so they don't get dirty / rust. Many times I have been lazy
and the heavy strings on the top courses (C and F) loose their
binding and it can hurt your skin.
Body shape: Like Lute
Top: Bent or flat
Bridge: Fixed or slightly movable.
Frets: Fixed chromatic
Strings: 6 or 8 (in pairs)
Courses: 3 or 4
The Irish bouzouki is a derivative
of the Greek bouzouki and uses the newer tetraxordo Greek version.
The Irish Bouzouki was introduced
into Irish Traditional Music in the late 1960s by Johnny Moynihan
and popularised by Andy Irvine and later Dónal Lunny.
Baglamas is mainly made with up of
six strings. It is almost one third of the size of a bouzouki. It
produces a fine almost whine sound, that used to give voice to the
feelings of love, pain, social injustice or seldom happiness of
medium or lower working class. Today it is used generally in folk
Tzouras is made with up of six
strings. Size wise its sleeve and head are the same as the
bouzouki’s but the vessel is smaller, almost two times the size of
a baglama’s vessel. The melody is usually played on the first and
second strings, while the third string will usually provide a drone.
lead singer of Trio Bel
Canto had a 10 string version.
Music from Amazon.com
Music from Amazon.co.uk