3. THE DOUZENIA (p. 264 Greek Edition)
These tunings I’m going to do for you now, all the bouzouki players who play good stuff, they don’t know them. Like I said, the people who know what I’m about to play are my brother who’s in America, my kids who I teach now, and Keromitis whose father knew it and taught him. These guys know that stuff. But the others, if you put the instruments tuned up into their hands and say “play”, they won’t know how to play.
Those douzenia were played by the old bouzouki players. I was in time to hear the guys that played with those douzenia - but nowadays they do European style. From the time that I began to lay my hands on a bouzouki that’s when the European style began. Or maybe a bit before, let’s say 1920-25, because there were one or two. One Manetas and another was Zoumaitis and they played, you could say, in the European style, but I was the one who really got that going. Later on all these other bouzouki players appeared and played with the European tuning. Like I told you, they don’t know the other douzenia. Nobody does. These were from the baglama - the baglamodouzenia. These days they carry around what they call baglamadhes, but those aren’t baglamadhes, they’re half-size bouzoukia. The baglamadhes were the small ones, these tzouradhes which I used to play, the tzoura with three strings and seven berdedhes (gut frets), a small shell the size of the ladle you’d use for doling out pulses.
This is youroukiko tuning (youroukiko douzeni). So we played the taximi on open strings (anikta).
The second douzeni is the famous karadouzeni, which we play like this:
This is karadouzeni tuning. It has a 'road', (dhromos) but I’m not a musician so I don’t know how to tell you now what key (tonos) it is. I can’t play any other 'road' in this karadouzeni tuning. Here’s another song in karadouzeni tuning:
Third is the Syran tuning (syrianos), a heavy zebekiko. For example:
Here’s another zebekiko in the ‘Syran’ tuning. This one is youroukiko, too.
Fourth is the Arabienne tuning. This is where you play the Houzam, for example, the zebekiko dance, the youroukiko.
Youroukiko means zebekiko youroukiko, you see, there’s no such thing as a youroukiko taximi. In all these different douzenia the youroukiko is played too. Here’s an example of a zebekiko tune:
You tune the bouzouki differently. From there - which is the European tuning - I take the top Re (D) and the one in the middle, and I tune them down and I bring all three strings, as they say, to the original tuning (ston proto mastori). And I play youroukiko or in other words, heavy zebekiko. All these things which they call youroukika, aptalika, kotsekika, all of these are zebekiko. The kotsekiko needs another tuning, different from the youroukika. The aptaliko is something else again. It doesn’t need a different tuning. The aptaliko is based on rhythm, but it’ll be a zebekiko. The zebekika youroukika are danced in the same pitch (tono). Like we said, the one is straight zebekiko and the other is a bit more fiddly you could say, with more plectrum strokes. But it’s the same. The youroukika are tunes that are often played with bouzouki and baglamah, and they’re more often played with baglamah. Of course these four string bouzoukia now, they can’t play these things, only the three-string bouzoukia and the baglamadhes.
Q: Right, so now in the European tuning you can play a whole lot of ‘roads’ and taximia. Are all these taximia played in the youroukiko tuning?
A: No. And if they are, they’ll be not quite right.
Q: What is ‘heavy’ zebekiko?
A: It has a greater appeal, it’s more beautiful - people like it more.
Q: And the chasapikα, do they get ‘heavy’?
A: Of course. An example of ‘heavy’ chasapiko is Frangosyriani, ‘Μ’ekapses tsachpina mou oraia’, and ‘Kathe vradhi tha se perimeno’.
Q: But is there such a thing as ‘heavy’ chasaposerviko?
A: No - and there isn’t any ‘heavy’ amanes either.
Q: But there is ‘heavy’ tsifteteli?
A: Of course. I wouldn’t be able to give you any idea of these tsifetelia because that wasn’t in my line of work. I wouldn’t know about it the way somebody else would who’s a specialist in tsiftetelia and knows all about them. The specialists in tsifteteli are the fiddlers who play them and the outi or oud players. These days bouzouki players play tsifteteli but not like the violins used to play them. The tsifteteli is for violin. And now there are bouzoukia that play them but they won’t be able to get quite the same business going that the violins have, the expressive sound, the sweetness, all of that.
Fifth is Rasti douzeni (ie the Rast tuning)
Q: Right, so douzenia and 'roads' (dhromoi )are the same thing?
A: No. The douzeni is the tuning, the dhromoi are what you play. There is a Rasti dhromos as well.
Q: So for example on the Arabienne douzeni you can play any 'road'? You can play Hijaz, Usak etc?
A: No. Instead of those you’ll be playing Houzam, its own 'road'.
Q: You mean every tuning has its own 'road'?
A: Why do you think, pal, I’m telling you they don’t know how to play them? But then even I have forgotten the Rasti douzeni. I’ve forgotten it! I don’t use these things now, kid.
These were the taximia, the douzenia that people nowadays don’t know.
Now we have the European style tuning, the Re-La-Re (DAD). This came from the piano. The bouzouki used to take the Re/D from the piano, and in keeping with the piano it did this as well. Since the time when the new bouzoukia appeared, since the time when I came on the scene for instance, I was trying to keep it tuned to the piano so that it could play along with me and be compatible. So what I mean to say is, when I began to play bouzouki, they were playing all those baglamah tunings we were talking about and then I learnt from one Maneta to tune the bouzouki Re-La-Re. Where he learnt it now I don’t know … anyway he was playing more in the European style than the laika style. Batis too tuned his baglamah Re-La-Re - always. ……………
Q: Who discovered this tuning? (ie European)
A: Well there’d have been somebody who thought up this Re-La-Re tuning but that was before my time. Certainly there must have been somebody who made this thing. And he surely would have been a musician, I mean, the sort that could read and write music.
Q: Mr Markos, can you play primo-secondo with the old douzenia?
A: No, those ones can only do accompaniment.
Q: Meaning what?
A: We play open strings down below, eh? You’d accompany in the original setting (sto mastora) in the same tuning it’s originally tuned to.
It’s possible though - look, how can I put it? - it’s possible on these lower notes not to accompany the other players. Instead, the other players, like maybe the santouri player, they’ll do the accompaniment. They find the note. So let’s say for instance the open string is G/Sol, then the player will do the accompaniment on G/Sol. It can even be low douzenia. But it’s not regular primo secondo.
The primo secondo has been there since forever and especially among mandolin ensembles. But in my lifetime I didn’t get to see those things, I didn’t play with such instruments thirty or forty years ago. I used to hear primo secondo with guitars, but not from other instruments.
Now the other instruments have been playing primo secondo, I mean, violins and bouzoukia. And since the time when I started with the bouzouki, we were playing primo secondo. Of course bouzoukia have been playing with guitars since forever. It wasn’t possible for two bouzoukia to be playing, and one of the bouzoukia do the accompaniment in E/Mi. When they had a baglamah as well then the same thing would happen, baglamah, guitar and bouzouki. For me, provided there’s a baglamah playing so the baglamah sustains the accompaniment, - it’s better if it’s the guitar, if the guitar is the regular accompaniment. I prefer that.
When I first played I had the baglamah with the bouzouki and a string of worry beads that I used to dangle just here over my waistcoat button and with a little glass I’d keep the beat going. The glass used to clink on the worry beads. There was a guy who did that. When I was going here and there with the bouzouki, before I started recording I used to go and find a guy who played guitar and I’d say to him ‘Let’s sit and play a little’. And he’d accompany me on guitar. Just some pal, whoever was there, and this guy would be from the mandolin side of things you might say.