For those of you who are learning to play the Greek bouzouki and need songs for your practice, this might be the book for you. I have searched the web to find Greek songbooks because I am learning to play the bouzouki. Here I have found a book with nine Greek lovesongs and play-along CD.
Per Jakob Skaanes
I have bought a Greek bouzouki from the bouzouki maker Babis Kleftoyiannis in Athens, and I’m now learning to play it and therefore looking for books that have songs so I can practise the Greek rythms and music in general.
I have been looking many places for greek songbooks, and found very few. Therefore I was happy when I discovered the songbook Hellenic hits Volume 2. I already have reviewed the first book in this series, Hellenic hits Volume 1. It was a little songbook that contained “Urban and Rural Greek Folksongs from the 1920’s to the 1940’s from the Zambaras Family Record Collection”. Included is a CD with real authentic audio examples,recordings from the 1920’s and 1040’s. Really charming. We have reviewed it here. Most of the records in this collection are now damaged, but Diz Carrol has saved many of them. From the saved records they are now making the books Hellenic hits.
Volume two contains a collection of Greek love songs from the same period, 1920-1940 and from the same collection of music. The songs tells us about heartache and pain and huge efforts to find out how to tell the lovely girl how much I love her or that I don’t love you any more. One of the songs about that love is ended seems to be an anti-modern song. The love ends because the unlucky has become hip and likes modern life with “wine and taverns”. The lyrics are written in greek and with latin letters in “greeklish” which helps you to pronounce the words correctly. There are also an explanation how to pronounce the different letters and english translation of the lyrics to every song. The book contains nine songs with melody lines and chords. There are mainly minor and major chords in the book so they’re not difficult to play. In a Greek way (maybe) major chords are noted ordinarily, but if it says “E-” then you play Em and so on.
Rythms and scales
In the first book, Hellenic Hits volume one, there was many difficult rythms and scales for us who mostly play 3/4- and 4/4-songs. Here in Hellenic hits vol. 2 you will find some difficulties. Some of the songs are written in 9/4 and 7/8 which can be a bit challenging. The author of the book, Diz Carrol, has suggested that counting 4+5 (or 2+2+2+3) will help in the 9/4-rythm and 3-2-2 in the 7/8-rythm. Afther a while I played them quite well :-). There are some scales that I am a bit unfamiliar with here too. Most of the songs are in cheerful major western keys. But some use more eastern scales. These are aeolian (which most of us know as a-minor white keyed mode) as well as som other distinctive harmonic minor modes. The rythms and scales are explained on page 3.
Transposing to other keys
If you have problem with the transposing, use a Transposing wheelor an online Auto-transposer to help you. I will recommend the first one. You will learn a lot about intervalls and chords by using a transposing wheel if you have trouble when you transpose from one key to another. The program Capo for Mac-users and the Amazing slowdowner for Mac- and PC-users will be a lot of help for those who want to play along with the CD. With these programs you can slow down the speed or change pitch if you like to play in another key.
On the two last pages you will find lot of links and adresses to recourses on greek and Balkan music. Hellenic hits vol. 2 is a very nice little book with greek songs. I am starving for more! In the future The Diz Carrol company will publish one more volume in this series. Hellenic hits Volume 3 will contain party songs Rembetika. We are looking forward to the publishing of this. I will review it as soon as it is published.
If you want to learn how to play the Greek bouzouki, I can recommend a very good instruction-DVD called Learning bouzouki. Also take a look at the homepage to the band called The Makedonians where the man behind Diz Carrol Music, Tom “Diz” Carrol, plays.
Hellenic hits volume 2is published by Diz Carrol Music. 25 pages, binding saddlestick. The book can be ordered from Tom Carrol, on e-mail or ordinary mail: Diz Carrol Music, 1216 Pine St., Tacoma WA 98406 USA.