Music began - all rembetes know it - with a howl lamenting a loss. The howl became a prayer and from the hope in the prayer started music, which can never forget its origin. In it, hope and loss are a pair. John Berger,To the Wedding

Rembetika is a form of Greek music which originated in the Greek hashish rooms knowns as Tepes in and around major Greek conurbations in the early part of the 20th century. For a fuller discussion of the music and its origins see the article describing the singular form of the word, rembetiko

Rembetika was, and, to an extent, still is the music of a largely marginalised subculture, strongly anti-authoritarian in tone and tenor. It was inevitably banned and driven underground by the conservative police authorities. Its exponents were known as rembetes

The instruments most associated with rembetika are the bouzouki, an instrument similar to the lute and the baglama which is a smaller version of the bouzouki.

Rembetika's roots however were considerably more diverse than the foregoing would tend to suggest. Other influences on rembetika were improvisational forms such as those practised in the Cafe-Amans, and the more eastern forms which entered the musical consciousness in the wake of the burning of Smyrna in 1922 and the expulsion of around a million Greeks living in Turkey back to Greece. With the refugees came a form of music which came to be known as Smyrnaika, which was profoundly touched by oriental influence. Over time the three forms became inextricably intertwined.

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