The Greek musical genre rebetiko, often referred to as the ‘Greek blues’ was inscribed on UNESCO’s 2017 representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage during its annual meeting held in Jeju, Korea, between December 4 and 9.
According to the organization’s announcement, rebetiko was selected because it contains “invaluable references to the customs, practices and traditions of a particular way of life, but above all the practice is a living musical tradition with a strong symbolic, ideological and artistic character.”
UNESCO said it recognized rebetiko’s “dynamic character” and its development as “a powerful reference point for the collective memory and identity of the Greeks.”
Rebetiko’s music and lyrics expressed the aspirations and ethics of the marginalized working classes and refugees in Greece at the beginning of the 20th century. Over time, and with the help of talented songwriters and performers, it became a dominant expression of the country’s city dwellers. Musical accompaniment is provided by stringed instruments including the bouzouki, baglamas, guitar and santouri.