Historically speaking, rembetika is the music of Greece's impoverished and dispossessed. Fusing the sounds of the eastern Mediterranean with realistic lyrics -- some in Turkish -- it portrays both the struggles and triumphs of the nation's underprivileged. (While the word "rembetika" itself is of unclear origin, it is assumed to derive from the Turkish "rembet," meaning "from the gutter.") It is music born of oral traditions, with both lyrics and music subject to considerable improvisation. Today, its sound is heavily influenced by the Neopolitan-Italian tango styles prevalent during the period between the two World Wars; while remaining popular in the modern era, rembetika is no longer the music of Greece's lower classes, and is instead the property of the working-class intelligentsia.
Other Styles in Mediterranean Traditions