Bouzouki…AKA?

Bouzouki…AKA?

I know that this topic has received much discussion previously but it’s a matter that really peeves me. Couldn’t somebody please come up with a new and more appropriate (preferably Irish) name for this so-called ‘Irish Bouzouki’? I have no affection for the name ‘Bouzouki’, and in my opinion it really isn’t one. Neither, given the scale is it clear what you mean when you call them an octave mandolin. Long scale octave mandolin is just too long a name and nobody knows what you are talking about. I’ve given it much thought ever since I bought one because it irritates me and whenever anybody asks me what it is I cringe. My imagination can come up with nothing. Just wondering if anybody else cares?

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Ha. You think you have problems. I’ve got one in the shape of a guitar. I’d rather call it "hey you" than all of the obvious derivations and transmutations.

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Yeah, I can see how that’s an even bigger problem. But doesn’t it annoy you? It would be like having a pet that wasn’t quite cat and not quite dog. I tend to just think of mine as ‘the thingy’ at the moment.

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Just call it a cittern.
If they don’t know it’s a bouzouki, they won’t know it’s not a cittern.

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I have heard it referred to as "that twangy sounding thing…"

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"A long-necked octave mandolin" perfectly describes it to a member of the public.
Call it a bezuki.

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Hey three sound answers there. Hadn’t expected that. Cittern sits better with me (even though it still isn’t), and bezuki is at least an improvement. As for ‘twangy thing’ I already use that, but it doesn’t satisfy the more curious people.

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Just as a side thought (well I’m allowed to sabotage my own thread, and it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m well bored). Every person that I’ve ever demonstrated my ‘twangy thing’ to has really loved it and immediately wanted one. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody or heard anybody who has made a detrimental comment about the twang of these things. Compare this to the reaction when my father produces his own twangy thing, i.e., the BANJO and people start slowly backing towards the door (not me though, …I leg it as fast as I can… it’s dangerous to block my path).

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An Irish name. Hmm. How about Seamas O Ceallaigh?

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I’d just like to clarify that despite the flippancy of my dialogue, or the weightlessness of the topic that whether or not it is deemed to be bullshit, I was being serious when I presented it. From my understanding the Irish so-called bouzouki was first developed in the 1970’s (not that long ago) and it is distinct enough from the Greek ones to warrant it’s own classification. Every other perceived member of the lute family has it’s own classification but the Irish bouzouki, apart from that name does not. Some call it a cittern but it isn’t. Some call it an octave mandolin but it isn’t. Why is a bodhran drum so called when there are very similar drums all around the world. Why is a viola not called a long scale violin? It just irritates me that these incredibly great Irish instruments don’t have a proper Irish name. If anybody else thinks this is bullshit well I remind you that you have no compulsion to respond (whether you have ever agreed with me on anything before or not…. I really don’t grasp that bit Jack). Just trying to fill in my Sunday afternoon after all!

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Why was it named "Bouzouki"?

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I believe it was because Greek bouzouki’s were first used, but then around the early 70’s (I believe) uniquely Irish ones were developed, and they are as different from the Greek ones as say a cornet is to a trumpet (feel free to disagree). All the basic info on Irish Bouzouki’s is on Wikipedia. I can understand that some people may not share this bee I have in my bonnet, but I believe in taxonomy, and all I’d like to know is what a suitable Irish word is for Bouzouki. Because Bouzouki is just all Greek to me (not that I have anything against Greeks or Greek music).

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"Bouzouki is just all Greek to me"

Some would maintain it’s Turkish.

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I sympathise with you, Gobby. I have a related unease about calling the banjo I play, tuned down a fourth to GDAE, a tenor banjo; it lost its tenorness with that change. Likewise, my "tenor" guitar, also tuned GDAE,
squarely in the range of a standard guitar. It was built for that tuning, with a full-sized guitar body, and a 24.1"
scale length. I just call it a four-string guitar.

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Yeah you’re probably right weejie but my joke wouldn’t have worked (and I didn’t actually know that).

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@ Will Morgan,… I guess some of us just get a bit finicky about the things we love.

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I can and will happily adopt that name Gam. So thanks for that. I could never have thought of it. It will suit because at least if I use that name then when people ask, ‘But what the feck is an Eire Guitar, I can say that in Ireland it’s exactly like a bouzouki except totally different. That should stop the confusion. Quite interesting articles as well. I’ll have another read in the morning. But I noted that the Turks and the Asians have different names for their versions of the Greek Bouzouki, so I still think its only right that the Irish should. After all the Irish one is much better (cough, cough).

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I don’t think the bouzouki is all *that* new an instrument. Firstly, the instrument, or something very like it, has been around somewhere or other for a lot longer than the 1950s. There’s an argument for saying that the same basic instrument (Greek version, as opposed to what the Irish have now done with it) has been around for thousands of years.

Secondly, I don’t believe that the word is that recent. That *exact* spelling, and its use in English, may have appeared first in 1952, which would explain the dictionary entry, but it looks to me as if "boukouki" and, maybe its antecedent "bozuk" have been around for a lot longer, only in Greece, not here or elsewhere in the world.

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It’s not a member of the mando family, wrong country of origin, wrong string tension, hence the zing.
It’s not a member of the guitar family either.

Musicalogically it’s a lute, so (Long necked) Irish Lute would be a bit more "correct."

What’s Irish for lute?
A quick search found this, although Scots gaelic
"fairchill—Dwelly’s Gaelic dictionary relates this to farch-chiùil and farch, meaning "lute" or perhaps "lyre". I am not aware of any recorded instance of the use of the lyre in the Celtic countries, other than in translating words found in the Bible. Note that unlike many other musical instruments the name is not derived from English. This would indicate a fairly early origin for the word. "

Irish speakers?

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Further to my last post, of course the Irish thing is much much more recent. Generally considered to have been introduced (invented, more like) around 1965 by Johnny Moynihan.

Further to gam’s question, wiki says that the word "bouzouki" comes from the Turkish expression "bozuk düzen", "bozuk" meaning "broken" or "modified", because it was tuned to a different scale somewhere around the first couple of decades of the 20c. (I can’t see that that wiki article says what "düzen" means, but I’m guessing it means "scale".)

So, how about "Breaker", referring to the origin of the word?

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Why not just find the Irish equivalent for the word "tetrachordo" since that’s the type of bouzouki that the Irish bouzouki came from? It would be more accurate than just "bouzouki" since so many innovations were done to it.

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"It’s not a member of the mando family" I disagree TomB-R, but time doesn’t allow me to develop that one here.

I’ve started answering queries by well-meaning tourists with…. "Its an octave Mandolin, ie a BIG Mandolin!" That usually gets a few hmmmmms and ….conversation over.
I sympathise with your plight Gobby, but I’m not sure there’s an answer. Donal Lunny once had an instrument made for himself with 5 courses of strings, ie a lower C course. It is reported that when he collected the instrument, it was labled "B. Large" and became known as a Blarge. I know this has only limited relevance, but surely an Irish bouzouki is just a large Mandolin or "M.Large"?? So Mlarge might be the answer.
Or, since most folks don’t use standard fifths tuning, it might be a Slightly Detuned Large Mandolin, or a Sildelama, or translated into Irish, "Lámasílde"

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http://translate.google.com/#tr/ga/bozuk%20d%C3%BCzen
According to google translate, duzen means ‘system’ and the whole thing translates to Irish as ‘córas truaillithe’.
Unfortunately that translates back to turkish as ‘bozuk sistem’. Still, ‘the coras’ seems a reasonable contender, with or without accents. Although as you may have guessed, the Irish language is not my strong point, and you could well be telling anybody who asks what you play, ‘it’s broken’.

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Backer - Briefly, I’d say it’s not a member of the mandolin family because, even though they are both lutes, the mando family has Italian origin, high tension stringing, and a relatively short neck. (The so-called octave mandolin is an offshoot of the family.) The bouzouki belongs to the Eastern mediterranean long-necked lute family, has three courses not four, and has relatively low tension stringing.

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It’s a legitimate gripe… there is a thing, why can’t the thing have a name?

I’ve seen the instrument listed on album notes as:
Bouzouki
Cittern
Mandola
Octave Mandolin
Octave Mandola
Blarge

most of these with, and without, the word "Irish" stuck in front.

Yes perhaps it’s a mid-20th century thing, in Ireland, to use a Greek Bouzouki with Irish music, but evidently Octave Mandolins have been used in Irish music here in the USA for a much longer time.

Back near the beginning of the 20th century Mandolin Orchestras were popular, consisting of a number of sizes, including the size now used in Irish music.

A friend who plays Irish music on a modern Irish Bouzouki was surprised when he travelled to Philadelphia around 1980 to meet an elderly man who had been playing Irish dance music on a c1920 Octave Mandolin his whole life. My friend had thought it a recent innovation!

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The Zuke

"Hey Gobby, did did you bring the zuke to session today?"

Whaddya think?

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TomB-R, I get it, but the instrument we are talking about, while it is called a bouzouki by many, is only related to the Greek instruments by way of coincidence. Johnny Moynihan is credited with introducing it to Ireland, but in fact he introduced the idea, which has been tweaked an awful lot, so we have a different instrument. This happened because people and their luthiers honed the idea to fit ITM. The modern instrument is related to the Octave Mandolin in almost every way, and, apart from Alex Finn, and very few others, is a 4 course, unison strung, variant of the Mandolin, not the Bouzouki. I have photos of myself playing a "bouzouki" in 1973, and Iv’e had plenty of them through my hands since. The instrument I have now is a long way from a Greek bouzouki, but habit is hard to break, and people are still confused. Which is,I suppose why this thread is here, and we will never really know what to call it!!!
The Mandolin family has all the elements of the Fiddle family. Piccolo Mandolin, Mandolin, Mandola, Octave Mandolin, Bass Mandolin. The instrument I play is ……………Oh I give up!

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Yes, that’s very fair Backer, it just seems to me, droning strings, "octave mando for tunes, zouk for accompaniment" that zingy sound - there’s a lot of the bouzouki gene still there, even if the body is pure flat backed mando family. It’s a hybrid, offspring of cousins that marry.

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A while ago I came across a painting by Richard Samuel from 1778 known as The Nine Living Muses of Great Britain. The person on the far right, identified as Charlotte Lennox, is apparently playing a long-necked flat-backed instrument with an oval soundhole and floating bridge. One source identifies it a "a cittern" although the number of strings, scale length etc., is not easy to ascertain.
This suggests that the idea of an Irish Bouzouki-type instrument is not at all new.
I always understood that the first IB-type instrument of modern times, as opposed to the early 20thc mando-cellos built by Gibson, et al, was produced by John Bailey for John Pearse, rebuilding a damaged instrument that was unplayable with a Portugese-guiterra type flat-back body. After building it no-one could work out what to do with it, but it was Donal Lunny, I believe, who was growing exasperated with his Greek instrument, saw this one, and commissioned a similar from another luthier to use in Planxty.

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When I e-mailed Stefan Sobell for recommended string sizes for my ‘shortscale bouzouki’ he replied: "Enjoy your octave mandola…."
When I took it to Greece the bouzouki players referred to it as a lute.
A little bit of research shows they weren’t invented in Ireland by any means; similar instruments made their way across Europe from the Middle East over the centuries and I’ve yet to find anything that makes them uniquely Irish, other than the Guinness stains.

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Why is no one complaining that we should find a new name for the electric guitar, when it has very little in common with it’s hollow bodied, nylon/gut strung ancestors?

To be honest I can’t see any problem at all with ‘Irish Bouzouki’ - Bouzouki alludes to it’s ancestry and tells us what it is, with its definitive long neck and octave courses, ‘Irish’ distinguishes it from it’s bowl backed Greek cousin.

The one I always have trouble with is people calling a 5 course mandola/mandolin ‘cittern’. The distinguishing feature of the cittern was the re-entrant tuning and melody strings tuned a tone apart, making it easy for unskilled nobility to play chords and simple runs as they warbled love songs to each other. Neither of these feature on the modern instrument. Why ‘cittern’ has been adopted to refer specifically to five course instruments is totally beyond me - although 5 and 6 course citterns did exist (mainly in Italy and France), the vast majority had only 4 courses. The instruments people call ‘cittern’ today are much closer to the English guitar than to the cittern (but ‘5 course mandola’ is still the best description).

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‘Electric guitar’ is a very good name and differentiates its (without the jim,,, 🙂 ) species from its gut-strung predecessor. It is, though, sometimes (a little annoyingly) referred to as an ‘axe’.

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That’s very much the point I was making Gam - ‘electric’ differentiates the Stratocaster from its predecessors, ‘Irish’ differentiates our Bouzouki from its predecessors. Where’s the problem? (apart from my punctuation 😉 )

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‘Electric guitar’ is easy to say, and describes what it is. ‘Irish Bouzouki’ is more of a tongue twister, and you couldn’t possibly imagine what it is if you hadn’t seen one. Also, it’s a bit like ‘Welsh Bratwurst’ or ‘Scottish Champagne’ — the words just don’t sit well together (Except now somebody will be telling me those things exist 🙂 ).

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I still can’t see it. Mandolin and mandola are just as foreign as bouzouki. Come to that, why do people insist on using the Italian ‘violin’ when we have always had perfectly good names for the fiddle in our own languages? When the mandolin came up here from Southern Europe no one felt the need to re-name it. And when we started making mandolins with flat backs, they were still mandolins. Why should it be different for the bouzouki?

When fashions change and instruments move about the world, they tend to take their names with them. Over time bouzouki will probably get anglicized (or gaelicized?) and become the berserky or some such, but that will happen with time, it doesn’t need people sitting down thinking ‘let’s re-name this instrument’.

I agree that something needs to be done to sort out the confusion surrounding CBOMs, but much of that confusion seems to have been caused by people who want to deny their instrument its heritage and pretend there is something inherently Irish about it. Let’s just call a spade a spade.

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I think ‘electric guitar’ is the perfect name for that instrument - in many ways, a totally different instrument from its acoustic cousin, as Mark has already said.

I think ‘Irish bouzouki’ is fine too, or even just ‘flat-backed bouzouki’. In a similar way to the Neapolitan mandolin (if that’s its name, the one the shape of a melon) and the flat-back mandolin.

About the ‘axe’ nickname for an electric guitar - I wonder how long that’s been around? It could be described as the way the Who’s Pete Townsend used it post-concert 🙂 Or maybe just the axe-like shape of some of the brands.

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I sometimes call my spade an f”in shovel. I know that these are actually two different things but I have little respect for them so I don’t care. I guess my quest is impossible since it would take universal agreement on what to call the things. But for my own personal peace of mind I JUST HAVE TO call my own instrument something else. I even prefer to call it an Irish lute, and if anybody ever again asks me what it is, I think I will. But thanks a lot guys for the discussion.

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"Scottish champagne"

Have you ever tried a mixture of Cava and Buckfast? Surprisingly good!

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I’ve never heard of either of those things but it sounds like it might go nicely with a bit of Welsh bratworst and mustard.

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Cal it a spade. Maybe we can work toward colloquialising that change

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Stefan Sobell is the one apparently responsible for calling his 5-course instruments "citterns’, reviving an old name from an instrument that was now obsolete.
But the Greek bouzouki itself is supposed to be a hybrid, originally made by the Christians expelled from Turkey, who married a neck from a sats-ut with the body of an Italian mandola. The rest is history.
I too would like a standardisation of nomenclature; an end to world hunger; peace in the Middle East; and a job for my graduate daughter.
I’m not holding my breath on any of these.

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What we’re talking about is a cross between the bouzouki and the guitar… so the logical name for it would be, "
"bizarre."

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As I’m familiar with it,
1. Greek Bouzouki.. bowl back usually 4 courses but also in 3 tetraxordo and trixordo respectively
2. Irish or Flat backed bouzoukis - 4 coursed tear drop scale length above 25", like it or not, long necked octave mandos usually tuned GDAD, ADAD, GDAE, ADAE from most to least popular tunings.
3. Octave Mandolins - 4 coursed tear drop usually scale length right around 24" usually tuned GDAE or GDAD
4. Mandolas - 4 coursed usually A or F mandolin shape - analogous to the Viola usually tuned CGDA but I like DADG.
5. Citterns - are 5 coursed bouzoukis (theres the one off Blarge related) some tuning are CGDAE, DADAD(E) They’ve been around in pretty much the same design since the 1500’s, and are in no way a re creationist construct of Sobell’s fancy. In germany a closely related instrument is called the Waldzither and the Portuguese Guitar which comes in 5 or 6 courses.

Forcing a contrived name like Liuit for a bouzouki is kind of, well… contrived. Is so the hoity toits at comhaltas can mention it ‘as gaeilge’? For the "I wear tweed and cable-knit everything" crowd?

It’s already got a name an the punters can go to hell. It’s not just a ‘zouk problem, if I had a penny for every time someone called my flute a clarinet or asked me if I was playing a violin or a fiddle - I’d be rich. Then there’s poor uilleann pipers who get corrected by punters that bagpipes are something you have to wear plaid and march around while playing.

But then there’s those bodhran players who chomp at the bit for punters to ask them about their instruments… then they retell that god-damn 20 minute explanation that only they care about as the punter tries to get out of there realizing they opened a horrible can of worms.

But I digress

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"the "I wear tweed and cable-knit everything" crowd"….
I thought they were all dead! But what you say about the bodhran players cheers me up.

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"5. Citterns - are 5 coursed bouzoukis (theres the one off Blarge related) some tuning are CGDAE, DADAD(E) They’ve been around in pretty much the same design since the 1500’s, and are in no way a re creationist construct of Sobell’s fancy. "

I’d have to disagree. With just about all of that. The old English instrument called a "cittern" is a completely different instrument from what is now thought of as a cittern. Firstly, it wasn’t a bouzouki of any kind (well, not to my mind - it’s sometimes referred to as one of the "ancestors" of the bouzouki, but that strikes me as pushing it a bit, since the bouzouki evolved somewhere else); it was generally 4 course, not 5 (although the variant known as the "English guitar" seems to have had 5 courses) with a peculiar tuning (apparently) with a high course at the ‘bottom’, like a banjo and it was a totally different shape and made a totally different sound.

My SO has a cittern. It’s not in playable condition, but it’s beautiful. It looks nothing like the modern "citterns" that were pretty much an invention of Stefan Sobell.

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I also disagree with b.maloney about citterns. About the only thing that a modern ‘cittern’ has in common with the original instrument is strings.

As I pointed out earlier, the tuning and purpose of the instrument is completely different, but even if you ignore all that and only look at the physical properties of the instrument, the key feature of a cittern is the very shallow body. This produces a small internal volume, and an air-body that resonates around the 2nd harmonic of the string frequencies and gives it its characteristic ‘zingy’ sound. This is unique amongst western stringed instruments of the period. (Lute, chittarone, bandora, orpharion etc. all have bodies sized to resonate around the fundamental frequency of the strings.)

This is a cittern: http://media.vam.ac.uk/media/thira/collection_images/2006AN/2006AN7936_jpg_l.jpg

This isn’t: http://www.sobellinstruments.com/Portals/20/PageImages/Instruments/sft1.jpg

A five string fiddle is still a fiddle, a seven string guitar is still a guitar, and a five course mandola is still a mandola.

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I call it my "Zouk"

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Exam question number 1: compare and contrast the myth of Johnny Moynihan bringing the bouzouki to Ireland with that of Stefan Sobell remaking an obsolete instrument which it is claimed he mistakenly called a cittern.
Points will be deducted for misinformation such as "there were no mandolin-type instruments in Ireland before Moynihan" and "Sobell merely copied existing 5 or 10 string instruments available at the time"…

Exam question 2: why call it the "Irish" bouzouki when it’s played in folk cultures all over Europe?

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Question 1.

I’d be very interested to see any reference to anyone playing a Greek bouzouki in Irish music before Moynahan or Finn. So I think, unless you can provide such a reference it is safe to assume that he did indeed intorduce the bouzouki to Irish music. The fact that mandolas and mandolins were already in use is irrelevant. The bouzouki isn’t a mandola.

There is no myth surrounding Sobell’s invention of the ‘cittern’: He invented an instrument, based on the Portuguese guitarra, then went looking for a name for it. Finding a picture in a text book that looked vaguely like his new creation, he nicked the name. He does not pretend to have re-created an old instrument, he just nicked the name. You can read it in his own words here:

http://www.sobellinstruments.com/en-gb/aboutus/howistartedmyfirstcittern.aspx

However, Sephan wasn’t an instrument maker, and appears to have done very little research, because what he ‘invented’ was, to all intents and purposes an octave mandolin (his first one only had four courses). He evidently realized this later, and now calls his 4 course instruments ‘octave mandolin’, but persists in using ‘cittern’ for his 5 and 6 course instruments, which are the same instrument with more strings.

Question 2.

A Spanish guitar is still a Spanish guitar, even if you play it in England or Ireland. The flat backed bouzouki evolved in and for Irish music, so it is known as an Irish Bouzouki (to distinguish it from the bowl backed Greek bouzouki). Perhaps it should really be called the English bouzouki, as the first one was built by Peter Abnett in Rochester. But I can’t think why you might think that the fact that its use subsequently spread across Europe should have any bearing on its name?

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Here’s a great RTE interview with LAPD in which Donal Lunny talks about his introduction to the bouzouki via Andy Irvine. He most definitely was playing a Greek bouzouki initially. If I recall correctly, Lunny was the one who brought the instrument to Peter Abnett which began the modification process of the original Greek bouzouki (http://hspeek.home.xs4all.nl/bouzouki/abnett/abnett_p1.html). And Abnett’s initial designs were still dish backed but with a more tear-dropped shaped body.

http://podcast.rasset.ie/podcasts/audio/2012/1209/20121209_rteradio1-miriammeets-miriammeet_c20124362_20124363_232_.mp3

To Add to the Con-fusion

Neither Sobell nor Lunny/Abnett were the first to hybridize instruments in Irish trad. Here’s a clip of Gerald Trimble playing a sultana, a hybrid viol/cittern invented and built by Irish luthier Thomas Perry in the 1700’s
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o118KgdX1g

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I’m gonna go with "bazooka."

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Sorry, but you’ve confused me there, 5stringfool … What have Thomas Perry’s instruments got to do with Irish trad?

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Yeah, you have a point Ben Hall. My assumption was that because these instruments were made in Ireland they would have been available for trad players, but of course that was just an assumption.

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I think we can safely say that his instruments were not intended for trad players.

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I can’t quite see what has been invented there - how does the sultana differ from a viola d’amore? It looks and sounds identical to me.

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Actually, I don’t think it is. Yer normally thought of viola d’amore is a non-fretted, much bigger instrument, usually with sympathethic strings. It’s much closer to a violin than anything else. The sultana was definitely a hybrid instrument having kindred with the viol family rather than the violin family. I’m not sure about that thing in the vid - it doesn’t look remotely like the sultanas that I’ve seen (pictures only, sadly) built by Perry.

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The viola d’amore was much closer in form and size to the treble viol than the violin - most are pretty much the same size as that sultana. The V&A catalogue has this to say about their example:

"The cither-viol or sultana, as it was also known in English, was played with a bow and usually had five pairs of wire strings or ‘courses’, although this example only has six single strings. It made a brief appearance in the British Isles from about 1760 until 1800, and was similar to the Northern German version of the viola d’amore, a bowed instrument with five wire strings. Thomas Perry of Dublin (1744-1818), who signed this example, is the only known maker of this type of instrument. He was also regarded as one of the best violin-makers in Ireland." Unfortunately they don’t have a picture online.

I’m not convinced about frets - they appear to be tied gut frets as per a viol on the instrument in the clip, and may well be just a ‘best guess’. The only other picture I can find online doesn’t appear to have frets:

http://img3.photographersdirect.com/img/262/wm/pd2795983.jpg

But paired courses would differentiate it from the viola d’amore, and would probably account for the references to an ‘Eastern sound’.

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Oh well, I have actually met some viola d’amores (if that’s the right form for the plural), and I haven’t met any sultanas. The viola d’amores have all been a bit bigger, and definitely violin-like, and with sympathetic strings, and no frets. My old fiddle teacher, Clarence Meyerscough, had a lovely Amati viola d’amore. Beautiful, it was.

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What idiot started this stupid thread? I’m going off now, to play my Irish lute (and eat some sultanas).

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Just change the spelling to bazookey

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To go back a bit; "However Sephan ( sic ) wasn’t an instrument maker….."……!!! What !?!
I don’t know what else you’ld call him.

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Read his biog Pete, at that point he was a museum curator. Apart from a couple of dulcimers (which don’t count) the ‘cittern’ was the first instrument he made.

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"But I can’t think why you might think that the fact that its use subsequently spread across Europe should have any bearing on its name?"

Aha… so it came to Ireland, then spread back to all the countries it originally came from? Got you now. Sort of an expanding universe sort of thing.

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

No…
The GREEK bouzouki came to Ireland. It mutated into the IRISH bouzouki, which has then spread amongst folkies in the rest of Europe and Scandinavia.

And I’m not quite sure what you mean by ‘all the countries it came from’? The Greek bouzouki came from Greece. I’m not aware of it being a popular instrument in France, Germany, Norway, or any of the other North European countries where the Irish bouzouki is now used.

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

It’s devilment on my part, Mark, for the sake of fun argument - however as devil’s advocate I fail to see how a round-backed instrument called the bouzouki can come from Greece, go to Ireland who then changed it into a flat-backed instrument which matched the myriads of mandolas / citterns / lutes that were already abounding all over the world - France as the lute, Portugal as the laud or bandolim, Italy as the mandola (mandolin just means little mandola), Germany as the Waldzither…. and claim to have been reinvented as the Irish bouzouki….. http://www.atlasofpluckedinstruments.com/europe3.htm - see the entry on the ‘flat backed mandolin’ which I quote: "as used in many countries"…
Gobby’s original post makes the point: it’s not a bouzouki, it doesn’t look like a bouzouki, it’s not tuned like a bouzouki, it doesn’t sound like a bouzouki… 🙂
But: help me out with this one - I’ve commissioned a local luthier to make me a ten string instrument with a large mandola body, but tuned in unison pairs to A D G B E. So: what should I call it?

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

[*I’ve commissioned a local luthier to make me a ten string instrument with a large mandola body, but tuned in unison pairs to A D G B E. So: what should I call it?*]

An expensive locally-built 10-string mandola. What else? 🙂

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

Hmmm…….

If we were talking about the octave mandolin/mandola I would agree with most of what you say - there have be broadly equivalent instruments across most of Europe for a long time. But we weren’t talking about the OM, we were talking about the bouzouki.

They are different instruments, They’ve evolved along different paths, and fulfill different purposes. I realize that there is a large degree of overlap between how people use the two instruments, but the bouzouki is a long scale instrument, intended primarily for chordal accompaniment, the OM is a short scale instrument intended primarily for melody. The two are sufficiently different to warrant keeping separate names for them so that we can differentiate between them.

As to what you call your new instrument, neither the tuning nor the body shape is particularly relevant to the name - a guitar is still a guitar even if you change it to DADGAD tuning. A mandolin is a mandolin whether it has a carved back and front, bowl back or flat back, a guitar is a guitar even when the body is just a plank of wood - the most the body form ever does is add a prefix to distinguish it from other forms of the same instrument (as in Irish/Greek bouzouki or Neapolitan/flat top/bluegrass mandolin.)
So if your instrument has a scale length around 25" and you intend to use it mainly for accompaniment you could legitimately call it a 5 course bouzouki, if it is about the 20 -23" mark and you intend to mainly play melody you could call it a 5 course mandola.

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

How about "Zima-zouki" ? it’s not beer and it’s not wine.

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

If that’s some sort of alcoholic beveridge I’d prefer to call mine a Murphy. ( then we could have the full-pint Murphy and the half-pint Murphy)

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

I couldn’t bear to read all of the postings in this thread. With all due respect to all points of view, a possible "solution" to this issue may be readily at hand. From his YouTube video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQWLA2GHfO8), it sounds as if Johnny Moynihan himself (1) is alive and well, and (2) may not like associating the word "bouzouki" with Irish music. Well, if Mr. Moynihan is considered the inventor of an unique variation on the Greek bouzouki, why not contact him and ask him to name it? If he actually introduced an unique instrument into his country’s music, he deserves this honor, even if he names his creation "Feckin Stringybox" or "vanilla pudding" or something else which doesn’t suit our ears.


If that doesn’t suit, just call it what you please, because people will argue no matter what you call it. Remember what Abe so wisely intoned, "… you can never please all of the people all of the time …"

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

Shéamus — Johnny is just upset "because you cannot hear Irish music without some focker playing the bouzouki". I conclude that he doesn’t have a problem with associating the bouzouki’s name with Irish music, but rather with associating the instrument itself with Irish music.

PS: I like berserky, Mark M!

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

Mandocello…
These instruments were around ages before the so called Irish bouzouki came about. Very similar size and contruction. The had a different tuning, but just because you use different tning on a guitar, doesn’t mean you get to call it an ‘Irish Mandocello’!!!

https://thesession.org/discussions/21832

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandocello

Posted .

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

While I think our OP has a valid point, I still call mine an Irish bouzouki, because that’s pretty much the name it’s had all along. Pardon my frankness, but all of you who went off on tangents about the instrument "not really being Irish", or into the uncharted territory of Gerald Trimble’s use of instruments from traditions other than ITM - you’d have been better served by picking up your World Beat Blarge-Zookis and PLAYING THEM. ;)

Re: Bouzouki…AKA?

Call it a Bazooka! LOL, without getting into the esoterics, it really isn’t a true bouzouki anymore (at least not in the Greek bouzouki/baglama/saz tradition) neither is it a cittern (usually 10 string in 5 courses). I would think calling it an octave mandolin LS would be the most appropriate or mandocello (with alternate tuning). I find it interesting that there is this move to place the bouzouki away from the mandolin family since they are both lute based instruments (one drawing more from the viol family, the other from the mid eastern conglomeration of instruments). Without getting into some antics (semantics), the definition should be clarified, but it appears that agreement between all parties concerned is as far removed from the origin as the instrument itself.