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Thread: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

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    Default Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...


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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Good info! Thank you Nigel.
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    Mando accumulator allenhopkins's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Still swimming upstream, maintaining that "Irish bouzouki" is an oxymoron. Losing battle, but I still think long-necked OM's aren't really "bouzoukis," but, well, long-necked OM's. Greek et. al. bouzouki is a specifically-defined instrument, bowl-backed, tuned in fourths-and-a-third similar to a guitar, sometimes with three double-string courses, sometimes with four, and often featuring octave tuning in the lower courses. As Nigel F points out, these instruments were adapted, re-tuned and restrung by Irish/Celtic players to use in a role somewhat different from the way bouzoukis were used in Mediterranean music. Which in turn led to the creation of an instrument that's basically an octave mandolin with a long neck, which met the Irish players' needs, and got called a "bouzouki" mainly because it replaced the repurposed Greek instruments.

    Sorta like the "Irish tenor banjo," which differs from a, say, "American tenor banjo" only in tuning -- being tuned like an octave mandolin -- and in a preference for shorter, 17-fret necks -- which all tenor banjos had before introduction of the 19-fret neck in the 1920's.

    Having said all that, the long-necked OM, call it whatever you like, is a wonderful instrument, and Nigel F's vid is well-produced, accurate, and well worth watching.
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Now that is an octave mandolin.
    Really nice!

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post

    Sorta like the "Irish tenor banjo," which differs from a, say, "American tenor banjo" only in tuning -- being tuned like an octave mandolin -- and in a preference for shorter, 17-fret necks -- which all tenor banjos had before introduction of the 19-fret neck in the 1920's.

    Having said all that, the long-necked OM, call it whatever you like, is a wonderful instrument, and Nigel F's vid is well-produced, accurate, and well worth watching.
    Of course here in Ireland, we don't call them "Irish tenor banjos", we just call them "tenor banjos". And the 19 fret tenor banjo is way more popular here than the 17 fret ones.....

    Back on topic, great video Nigel, thanks for posting that!
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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Over here it’s un banjo tènor.

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  11. #7

    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Yep, in all the time I worked for Sobell we never called them Irish bouzoukis. If it had a long neck and 8 strings we called it a bouzouki. If it had a shorter neck and 8 strings we called it an octave mandolin.

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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by allenhopkins View Post
    Still swimming upstream, maintaining that "Irish bouzouki" is an oxymoron. Losing battle, but I still think long-necked OM's aren't really "bouzoukis," but, well, long-necked OM's. Greek et. al. bouzouki is a specifically-defined instrument, bowl-backed, tuned in fourths-and-a-third similar to a guitar, sometimes with three double-string courses, sometimes with four, and often featuring octave tuning in the lower courses. As Nigel F points out, these instruments were adapted, re-tuned and restrung by Irish/Celtic players to use in a role somewhat different from the way bouzoukis were used in Mediterranean music. Which in turn led to the creation of an instrument that's basically an octave mandolin with a long neck, which met the Irish players' needs, and got called a "bouzouki" mainly because it replaced the repurposed Greek instruments.

    Sorta like the "Irish tenor banjo," which differs from a, say, "American tenor banjo" only in tuning -- being tuned like an octave mandolin -- and in a preference for shorter, 17-fret necks -- which all tenor banjos had before introduction of the 19-fret neck in the 1920's.

    Having said all that, the long-necked OM, call it whatever you like, is a wonderful instrument, and Nigel F's vid is well-produced, accurate, and well worth watching.
    I don't know a whole lot about Greek music, but from what I've been able to find, it seems the tetrachordo bouzouki tuned CFAD only became the standard form around the 1950s, with a longer history of the trichordo bouzouki tuned DAD. Though the physical characteristics of the instrument are still quite different, the flat backed bouzouki that appeared in the UK and Ireland from the late 60s onwards does seem a little more bouzouki-like if compared to the trichordo, since most popular tunings keep the DAD courses.

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    The term, Irish or Polish, Belarus, English, Monaco… is quite a contentious subject at the moment, and as a musician I'm really not interested!

    But when people (20th century tourists) use the term Irish bouzouki, to me as a musician, it’s quite general. So I'm thinking that they are trying to describe something that they have experienced. It's something with a flat back, louder, deeper sound, (compared to that time at Athens airport in Greece), bottom two courses in octaves, and tuned GDAD. Then it's a fair bit of strumming, not necessarily playing all of the notes in the melody, not having the largest repertoire, but lots of hearty, joyful singing, even when playing minor keys. And tee shirts saying that Guinness is healthier for you than Pepsi or Coca-Cola.
    Never completely sure but I think that’s what they’re thinking.
    Last edited by Simon DS; Nov-18-2021 at 8:58am.

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    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Allen, I reckon you might as well stop swimming and go with the flow.

    Judging by the players I talk to in Scotland, the battle is lost.
    They call it:
    bouzouki
    mandola
    octave mandola
    cittern
    roughly in that order of frequency
    Bren

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  19. #11

    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Most of the time I'm speaking about harps, folks think I'm talking about moothies.

    Colloquial nomenclature and organological nomenclature are frequently at odds.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Beer View Post
    I don't know a whole lot about Greek music, but from what I've been able to find, it seems the tetrachordo bouzouki tuned CFAD only became the standard form around the 1950s, with a longer history of the trichordo bouzouki tuned DAD. Though the physical characteristics of the instrument are still quite different, the flat backed bouzouki that appeared in the UK and Ireland from the late 60s onwards does seem a little more bouzouki-like if compared to the trichordo, since most popular tunings keep the DAD courses.
    Good point about the DAD strings.

    The original Greek bouzoukis were indeed 3 course instruments, a cross between the older baglama (with the V over the g, not the little baby bouzouki) saz and the mandolin.

    One thing - the older Greek style used many tunings related to the saz. By the 1930's or so most of the other tunings were not used much, and the DAD tuning was pretty established.

    The 4 string tetrachordo bouzouki was developed later, as you say, in the late 40's/early 50's, deliberately to emphasize the more Western and popular characteristics of the instruments, and the developing style that was moving to popular Laika and Syrtaki music, and less focused on the Rebetiko scene.

    I also think there is a connection between the Irish bouzouki family and the older English guitar and cittern. It remains to be studied.

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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    Allen, I reckon you might as well stop swimming and go with the flow.

    Judging by the players I talk to in Scotland, the battle is lost.
    They call it:
    bouzouki
    mandola
    octave mandola
    cittern
    roughly in that order of frequency
    No use of Donal Lunny's "blarge"?

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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    I've never heard the term "Blarge" out in the wild here in Scotland. I suppose my 10-string would roughly fit into the category, but I go with Cittern because the maker called it that.

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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Enjoyable, informative video. I admire your ability to transplant to another part of the world. I have three instruments I got from Stefan Sobell in the early '80s: a 5-course mandolin, 5-course citten, and Model 1 guitar. Perhaps your handiwork is in these? Some of the stringing variations I've enjoyed are tuning the cittern like a banjo with five strings, and stringing the mandolin with four wound nylons and tuning it like an octave mandolin. As a tiny thing, I listened to my father play the mandolin while I played with my blocks on the floor. It was a transmission that had a magical influence on my life's course.

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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Roberts View Post
    Enjoyable, informative video. I admire your ability to transplant to another part of the world. I have three instruments I got from Stefan Sobell in the early '80s: a 5-course mandolin, 5-course citten, and Model 1 guitar. Perhaps your handiwork is in these? Some of the stringing variations I've enjoyed are tuning the cittern like a banjo with five strings, and stringing the mandolin with four wound nylons and tuning it like an octave mandolin. As a tiny thing, I listened to my father play the mandolin while I played with my blocks on the floor. It was a transmission that had a magical influence on my life's course.
    I was there 1988-1990, 1992-2003, so if your instruments are within these dates, yes. Usually, I bent the sides, made the back, joined them all together, did the prep work on the neck, rough carved tops. Later on, I did all that, bound the bodies, carved necks, fitted necks, made and fitted the soundboards. It was a bit more than making the tea...

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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Roberts View Post
    Enjoyable, informative video. I admire your ability to transplant to another part of the world.
    My Singaporean wife couldn't get a UK visa. Despite being married to an Englishman, being from a former British colony and speaking English as her first language. And being a qualified, experienced teacher. Not the sort of foreigner the UK wants apparently...So I'm very glad Oz took us in.

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    Registered User Bren's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Not just an Englishman but a proper Geordie!
    Australia is all the richer for it.
    Bren

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Nigel, the UK Government never ceases to amaze me with its application (?) of its own rules. Now, perhaps if you were to become a Party Donor... Then not just a visa but possibly a seat in the House of Lords might follow?
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Beer View Post
    I've never heard the term "Blarge" out in the wild here in Scotland. I suppose my 10-string would roughly fit into the category, but I go with Cittern because the maker called it that.
    It may well have been Donal's joking term for a "new" instrument.

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    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by nkforster View Post
    I was there 1988-1990, 1992-2003, so if your instruments are within these dates, yes. Usually, I bent the sides, made the back, joined them all together, did the prep work on the neck, rough carved tops. Later on, I did all that, bound the bodies, carved necks, fitted necks, made and fitted the soundboards. It was a bit more than making the tea...
    I'm sure I saw some of them at Lark in the Morning - Mickie was an early importer of Sobell instruments.

  33. #22

    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I'm sure I saw some of them at Lark in the Morning - Mickie was an early importer of Sobell instruments.
    For sure. We used to sell to Lark and Elderly, though both fizzled out by the mid 90s. By then we were selling almost all direct.

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  35. #23

    Default Re: Everything you wanted to know about the Irish bouzouki...

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kelly View Post
    Nigel, the UK Government never ceases to amaze me with its application (?) of its own rules. Now, perhaps if you were to become a Party Donor... Then not just a visa but possibly a seat in the House of Lords might follow?
    To be honest John, the wife couldn't stand the weather in Newcastle. So she's quite glad we're in the Gold Coast.

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