Greek Music


This is a gross oversimplification, but contemporary Greek dance music can be put into two broad categories – dimotika and politico.

Dimotika, from the root word for democracy, means “of the people” and is roughly analogous to North American country music. It’s the music of rural, island, backwoods Greece, considered old-fashioned by some, beloved by others including folk dancers, the bedrock of the Greek soul. Musical instruments accompanying the singers include clarinet, violin, santouri, guitar, accordion, flute, hand drums, but seldom bouzouki. Most dances with the word syrto, tsamiko, sousta, or geographic names like Kritiko (Crete) or Rodu (Rhodes) are accompanied by this music.

Politiko, from the root word polis, as in metropolis, means city or urban music. Before the 20th century the only Greek cities worthy of the name were in Turkish-controlled territory – Istanbul (Constantinople) & Izmir (Smyrna). Music made by Greeks there had a more oriental feel and used bouzoukis.

In the 1920’s masses of Greeks were expelled from Turkey and poured into mainland Greece bringing their music, then called Rebetiko.

Gradually, bouzouki music gained acceptance among all Greeks, until today it is the most popular form. Most dances with the terms Hasapiko, Syrtaki, Zeybekiko, and Hassaposerviko are accompanied by this music.

An excellent article on Rebetiko is called “A History of the Bouzouki and its Music”, found online at



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