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"Misirlou" (Greek : Μισιρλού< Turkish : Mısırlı 'Egyptian' < Arabic : مصرMiṣr 'Egypt' ) is a traditional song from the Eastern Mediterranean region. The earliest known recording of the song is a 1927 Greek rebetiko / tsifteteli composition influenced by Middle Eastern music. There are also traditional Arabic (belly dancing), Armenian, Persian, Indian, and Turkish versions of the song. This song was very popular from the 1920s in the Greek American and Armenian American communities who settled in the United States of America as part of the Ottoman Empire diaspora.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Turkish, also referred to as Istanbul Turkish, is the most widely spoken of the Turkic languages, with around 10–15 million native speakers in Southeast Europe and 60–65 million native speakers in Western Asia. Outside Turkey, significant smaller groups of speakers exist in Germany, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Northern Cyprus, Greece, the Caucasus, and other parts of Europe and Central Asia. Cyprus has requested that the European Union add Turkish as an official EU language, even though Turkey is not a member state.
Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.
The song was a hit in 1946 for Jan August, an American pianist and xylophonist nicknamed "the one-man piano duet". It gained worldwide popularity through Dick Dale's 1962 American surf rock version, originally titled "Miserlou", which popularized the song in Western popular culture. Various versions have since been recorded, including other surf and rock versions by bands such as the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Consider the Source, and the Trashmen, as well as international orchestral easy listening (exotica) versions by musicians such as Martin Denny and Arthur Lyman. Dale's surf rock version later gained renewed popularity when director Quentin Tarantino used it in his 1994 film Pulp Fiction , and again when it was sampled in the Black Eyed Peas song "Pump It" (2006). The Martin Denny cover also helped the song resurge in popularity, when it was sampled in the Season 2 episode of Mad Men, "The Jet Set". A cover of Dale's surf rock version was included on the Guitar Hero II video game released in 2006.
Jan August was an American pianist and xylophonist. He had a hit with his version of "Misirlou" in 1947 with Carl Frederick Tandberg.
Richard Anthony Monsour, better known by his stage name Dicky Dale, is an American rock guitarist, known as The King of the Surf Guitar. He pioneered and created what many call the surf music style, drawing on Middle-Eastern music scales and experimenting with reverberation. He worked closely with Fender to produce custom made amplifiers, including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier. He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing distorted, "thick, clearly defined tones" at "previously undreamed-of volumes." The "breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique" and showmanship with the guitar is considered a precursor to heavy metal music, influencing guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.
The music of the United States reflects the country's pluri-ethnic population through a diverse array of styles. It is a mixture of music influenced by West African, Irish, Scottish and mainland European cultures among others. The country's most internationally renowned genres are jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, rock, rhythm and blues, soul, ragtime, hip hop, barbershop, pop, experimental, techno, house, dance, boogaloo, and salsa. The United States has the world's largest music market with a total retail value of 4,898.3 million dollars in 2014, and its music is heard around the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some forms of American popular music have gained a near global audience.
Misirlou (Μισιρλού), due to the suffix 'ou,' is the feminine form (in Greek Miṣr) with the Turkish -lı suffix, literally meaning "Egyptian". Therefore, the song is about an Egyptian woman.) of Misirlis (Μισιρλής- a surname) which comes from the Turkish word Mısırlı, which is formed by combining Mısır ("Egypt" in Turkish, borrowed from Arabic مِصر
While the exact folk origin of the song is not well established, it is thought to have originated somewhere in Egypt or Asia Minor. The earliest recording of the song is uncertain.
A song is a single work of music that is typically intended to be sung by the human voice with distinct and fixed pitches and patterns using sound and silence and a variety of forms that often include the repetition of sections. Through semantic widening, a broader sense of the word "song" may refer to instrumentals.
The earliest known recording of the song was by the rebetiko musician Theodotos ("Tetos") Demetriades (Greek : Θεόδοτος ("Τέτος") Δημητριάδης) in 1927. Demetriades, an Ottoman Greek, was born in Istanbul, Ottoman Empire, in 1897, and he resided there until he moved to the United States in 1921, toward the end of the Turkish–Greek conflict during the last phase of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and establishment of modern Turkey. It is likely that he was familiar with the song as a folk song before he moved to the United States. As with almost all early rebetika songs (a style that originated with the Greek refugees from Asia Minor in Turkey), the song's actual composer has never been identified, and its ownership rested with the band leader. Demetriades named the song "Misirlou" in his original 1927 Columbia recording, which is a Greek assimilated borrowing of the regional pronunciation of "Egyptian" in Turkish ("Mısırlı"), as opposed to the corresponding word for "Egyptian" in Greek, which is Αιγύπτιοι (Aigyptioi). Later, in 1930, Michalis Patrinos, another Ottoman Greek from Izmir, Ottoman Empire, and his rebetiko band recorded a cover version in Athens, Greece.
Rebetiko, plural rebetika, occasionally transliterated as Rembetiko or Rebetico, is a term used today to designate originally disparate kinds of urban Greek music which have come to be grouped together since the so-called rebetika revival, which started in the 1960s and developed further from the early 1970s onwards. Rebetiko briefly can be described as the urban popular song of the Greeks, especially the poorest, from the late 19th century to the 1950s.
Ottoman Greeks were ethnic Greeks who lived in the Ottoman Empire (1299–1923), the Republic of Turkey's predecessor. Ottoman Greeks, who were Greek Orthodox Christians, belonged to the Rum Millet. They were concentrated in what is today modern Greece, eastern Thrace, western Asia Minor, central Anatolia, northeastern Anatolia. There were also sizeable Greek communities elsewhere in the Ottoman Balkans, Ottoman Armenia, and the Ottoman Caucasus, including in what, between 1878 and 1917, made up the Russian Caucasus province of Kars Oblast, in which Pontic Greeks, northeastern Anatolian Greeks, and Caucasus Greeks who had collaborated with the Russian Imperial Army in the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-1829 were settled in over 70 villages, as part of official Russian policy to re-populate with Orthodox Christians an area that was traditionally made up of Ottoman Muslims and Armenians.
Istanbul, historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosporus strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives on the Asian side. With a total population of around 15 million residents, Istanbul is one of the world's most populous cities, ranking as the world's fourth-largest city proper and the largest European city. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Istanbul is viewed as a bridge between the East and West.
Initially, the song was composed as a Greek tsifteteli dance, in the rebetiko style of music, at a slower tempo and a different key than the orientalized performances that most are familiar with today. This was the style of recording by Michalis Patrinos in Greece, circa 1930, which was circulated in the United States by the Orthophonic label; another recording was made by Patrinos in New York City in 1931 as well.
The Tsifteteli, is a rhythm and dance of Anatolia and the Balkans with a rhythmic pattern of 2/4. In Turkish the word means "double stringed", taken from the violin playing style that is practiced in this kind of music. There are suggestions that the dance existed in ancient Greece, known as the Aristophanic dance Cordax. But the dominant theory associates it with middle eastern civilization, as no similar dance ever existed in the tradition of Greece or any other European country, until very recently. Nowadays it is to be found not only in Greece and Turkey, but also in the whole of the Southeastern Mediterranean region.
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. In classical music, tempo is typically indicated with an instruction at the start of a piece and is usually measured in beats per minute. In modern classical compositions, a "metronome mark" in beats per minute may supplement or replace the normal tempo marking, while in modern genres like electronic dance music, tempo will typically simply be stated in bpm.
In music theory, the key of a piece is the group of pitches, or scale, that forms the basis of a music composition in classical, Western art, and Western pop music.
The song's oriental melody has been so popular for so long that many people, from Morocco to Iraq, claim it to be a folk song from their own country. In fact, in the realm of Middle Eastern music, the song is a very simplistic one, since it is little more than going up and down the Hijaz Kar or double harmonic scale (E-F-G#-A-B-C-D#). It still remains a well known Greek, Klezmer, and Arab folk song.
|Single by Dick Dale|
|from the album Surfers' Choice|
|B-side||"Eight Till Midnight"|
|Released||April 21, 1962|
|Genre||Instrumental rock, surf rock|
|Songwriter(s)||Nick Roubanis, Fred Wise, Milton Leeds, Bob Russell|
In 1941, Nick Roubanis, a Greek-American music instructor, released a jazz instrumental arrangement of the song, crediting himself as the composer. Since his claim was never legally challenged, he is still officially credited as the composer today worldwide, except in Greece where credit is given to either Roubanis or Patrinos. Subsequently, Bob Russell, Fred Wise and Milton Leeds wrote English lyrics to the song. Roubanis is also credited with fine-tuning the key and the melody, giving it the Oriental sound that it is associated with today. The song soon became an "exotica" standard among the light swing (lounge) bands of the day.
Harry James recorded and released Misirlou in 1941 on Columbia 36390, and the song peaked at #22 on the U.S. chart.
In 1941, Woody Herman and His Orchestra released the song with the English lyrics written by Russell, Wise and Leeds on Decca Records (4024 A, DLA-2735).
In 1943, Miriam Kressyn wrote Yiddish lyrics to the song. In 1944, Lebanese musician Clovis el-Hajj performed this song and called it "Amal". Arab American musician Anton Abdelhad recorded and released "Miserlou" on Alkawakeb records (102A, 7019 ACA) and his own Abdelahad records (7019) with Philip Solomon on accompanying violin in the late 1940s.
In 1946, pianist Jan August recorded a version of the song on Diamond Records (Diamond 2009), which reached #7 on the Billboard Jockey charts in the U.S.This is the highest charting American version to date, although the later version by Dick Dale is far better known today.
Korla Pandit, the purported Indian pianist and organist, performed "Miserlou" in his acts during the 1950s; for example, he performed the song on a Snader Telescriptions' clip from 1951. He recorded it for his 1958 album Plays Music Of The Exotic East, released by Fantasy Records (3272/8013).
In 1958, Arthur Lyman arranged and recorded the song on the album Taboo (Hi-Fi Records SR806).
In 1962 Dick Dale rearranged the song as a solo instrumental rock guitar piece. During a performance, Dale was bet by a young fan that he could not play a song on only one string of his guitar. Dale's father and uncles were Lebanese-American musicians, and Dale remembered seeing his uncle play "Misirlou" on one string of the oud. He vastly increased the song's tempo to make it into rock and roll. It was Dale's surf rock version that introduced "Misirlou" to a wider audience in the United States.
The Beach Boys recorded a Dale-inspired "Misirlou" for the 1963 album Surfin' U.S.A. , solidifying "Misirlou" as a staple of American pop culture. A wealth of surf and rock bands soon recorded versions of the song, including the Ventures, the Astronauts, the Surfaris, the Trashmen and the Bobby Fuller Four. Hundreds of recordings have been made to date, by artists as diverse as Agent Orange and Connie Francis (1965). Pete Seeger notably performed it in 1963 as well, at his famous Carnegie Hall Concert.
Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida recorded a bossa-nova version on his album Acapulco '22 (1963).
In 1967, the Devil's Anvil, a group of Middle Eastern folk musicians based in New York and featuring Felix Pappalardi, later bass guitarist for the heavy rock band Mountain, released a version of 'Misirlou'. It had lyrics in English by Pappalardi's wife, Gail Collins, and was included on their Columbia Records LP called Hard Rock from the Middle East.
"Missirlù" was a 1967 Italian single, sung by Gino (Cudsi) and Dorine.
The song was sung by the Turkish singer Zeki Müren in 1971 as "Yaralı Gönül", with lyrics by Suat Sayın, a Turkish singer and composer.
In 1972, Serbian singer Staniša Stošić recorded a version of the song "Lela Vranjanka" with different lyrics. Subsequently, it has become the most well-known version of "Misirlou" in Serbia.
The Russian dobro player Eugene Nemov recorded an instrumental version in Moscow in 2006.
Phil Woods plays a clarinet on "Misirlou" on the album Into the Woods.
The song was sung by the Armenian singer Paul Baghdadlian as "Anoush Yar".
Hawaiian artists Honoka & Azita created a ukelele version.
In 2017, a Greek band named Blandras, created another arrangement of the song, a psychedelic rock version with the original lyrics, published in their debut album Purple Sun.
In 1945, a Pittsburgh women's musical organization asked Professor Brunhilde E. Dorsch to organize an international dance group at Duquesne University to honor America's World War II allies. She contacted Mercine Nesotas, who taught several Greek dances, including Syrtos Haniotikos (from Crete), which she called Kritikos, but for which they had no music. Because Pittsburgh's Greek-American community did not know Cretan music, Pat Mandros Kazalas, a music student, suggested the tune "Misirlou", although slower, might fit the dance.
The dance was first performed at a program to honor America's allies of World War II at Stephen Foster Memorial Hall in Pittsburgh on March 6, 1945. Thereafter, this new dance, which had been created by putting the Syrtos Kritikos to the slower "Misirlou" music, was known as Misirlou and spread among the Greek-American community, as well as among non-Greek U.S. folk-dance enthusiasts.
It has been a staple for decades of dances held at Serbian Orthodox churches across the U.S., performed as a kolo or circle dance. The dance is also performed to instrumental versions of "Never on Sunday" by Manos Hadjidakis – though in the Serbian-American community, "Never on Sunday" was popularly enjoyed as a couple's dance and actually sung in English. "Never on Sunday" was often one of only two songs performed in English at these dances, the other song being "Spanish Eyes" (formerly "Moon Over Naples") also internationally popular in its time.
The Misirlou dance also found its way into the Armenian-American community who, like the Greeks, were fond of line dancing, and occasionally adopted Greek dances. The first Armenian version of "Misirlou" was recorded by Reuben Sarkisian in Fresno the early 1950s. Sarkisian wrote the Armenian lyrics to "Misirlou" which are still sung today, however he wrote the song as "Akh, Anoushes" ("Ah, My Sweet") while later Armenian singers would change it to "Ah Anoush Yar" ("Ah, Sweet Lover"; Yar meaning sweetheart or lover, from Turkish).
In 1994, Dick Dale's version of "Misirlou" was used on the soundtrack of the motion picture Pulp Fiction , prominently featured over the opening titles.
The song was selected by the Athens 2004 Olympics Organizing Committee as one of the most influential Greek songs of all time, and was heard in venues and at the closing ceremony – performed by Anna Vissi.
In March 2005, Q magazine placed Dale's version at number 89 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks.
A version of the song was used in the intro for ICC World Twenty20 2007.
The Dick Dale version of the song was sampled in the Black Eyed Peas song "Pump It". The song was also used at the start of Olly Murs's Never Been Better Tour shows.
Manolis Aggelopoulos the famous Greek Romani singer has also sung Misirlou.
In 2014 the UK Jazz and World music artist Martha D Lewis released Misirlou on the Homage To Roza album. This version featured the legendary jazz drummer Jack De Johnette.
Surf music is a subgenre of rock music associated with surf culture, particularly as found in Southern California. It was especially popular from 1962 to 1964 in two major forms. The first is instrumental surf, distinguished by reverb-drenched electric guitars played to evoke the sound of crashing waves, largely pioneered by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. The second is vocal surf, which took elements of the original surf sound and added vocal harmonies, a movement led by the Beach Boys.
Kanto is a popular genre of Turkish music.
The music of Greece is as diverse and celebrated as its history. Greek music separates into two parts: Greek traditional music and Byzantine music, with more eastern sounds. These compositions have existed for millennia: they originated in the Byzantine period and Greek antiquity; there is a continuous development which appears in the language, the rhythm, the structure and the melody. Music is a significant aspect of Hellenic culture, both within Greece and in the diaspora.
The vast majority of the inhabitants of the United States are immigrants or descendants of immigrants. This article will focus on the music of these communities and discuss its roots in countries across Africa, Europe and Asia, excluding only Native American music, indigenous and immigrant Latinos, Puerto Rican music, Hawaiian music and African American music. The music of Irish- and Scottish-Americans will be a special focus, due to their extreme influence on Appalachian folk music and other genres. These sorts of music are often sustained and promoted by a variety of ethnic organizations.
Surfers’ Choice is the debut album of Dick Dale and his Del-Tones, pioneers in the surf genre. It was released in 1962. The recording established the conventions of surf music and brought the concept to middle America. The album was mostly recorded live at the Rendezvous Ballroom, with overdubs added in the studio. The record was out of print for a long time but was reissued on CD by Sundazed Records in October 2006.
The music of Crete, also called kritika, refers to traditional forms of Greek folk music prevalent on the island of Crete in Greece. Cretan traditional music includes instrumental music, a capella songs known as the rizitika, "Erotokritos," Cretan urban songs (tabachaniotika), as well as other miscellaneous songs and folk genres.
"Pump It" is a 2005 song by The Black Eyed Peas. It was released as the fourth and final single from The Black Eyed Peas' 2005 album Monkey Business. This song was also remixed for the deluxe edition of the group's fifth studio album The E.N.D as "Pump It Harder". "Pump It" heavily incorporates music from Dick Dale's 1962 surf version of the song "Misirlou".
Music from the Motion Picture Pulp Fiction is the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film Pulp Fiction. No traditional film score was commissioned for Pulp Fiction. The film contains a mix of American rock and roll, surf music, pop and soul. The soundtrack is equally untraditional, consisting of nine songs from the movie, four tracks of dialogue snippets followed by a song, and three tracks of dialogue alone. Seven songs featured in the movie were not included in the original 41-minute soundtrack.
Laïkó, is a Greek music genre composed in Greek language in accordance with the tradition of the Greek people. Also called folk song or urban folk music, in its plural form is a Greek music genre which has taken many forms over the years. Laïkó followed after the commercialization of Rebetiko music. It is strongly dominated by Greek folk music and it is used to describe Greek popular music as a whole. When used in context, it refers mostly to the form it took in the period from the 1950s to the 1980s.
"Come on-a My House" is a song performed by Rosemary Clooney and originally released in 1951. It was written by Ross Bagdasarian and his cousin, Armenian American Pulitzer Prize winning author William Saroyan, while driving across New Mexico in the summer of 1939. The melody is based on an Armenian folk song. The lyrics reference traditional Armenian customs of inviting over relatives and friends and providing them with a generously overflowing table of fruits, nuts, seeds, and other foods.
Living in Darkness is the debut studio album by American punk rock band Agent Orange, released in 1981 on Posh Boy Records. The album showcased the band's innovative mixture of punk, surf rock and skate punk, and was also listed in the "10 Best Skate Punk Records of All Time".
Surfbeat was the first album recorded by the Los Angeles-based surf rock group The Challengers. They recorded the album in a 3½ hour session at the end of 1962. The album was released in early 1963 and became a huge hit, helping to propel the surf genre. It was sought by collectors for many years and gained great notoriety in the obscure surf market. In 1994, Sundazed records, a company with a lot of vintage surf at its disposal, released the album on CD with two bonus tracks.
"Surfin' Bird" is a song performed by American surf rock band the Trashmen, and it is also the name of the album that featured this hit single.
Mısırlı Ahmet is a Turkish virtuoso darbuka player. His music spans various genres and carries influences from
Monster Surf is a Gary Hoey album released in 2005. It consists of 14 instrumental tracks, 11 of which are cover versions of surf music hits. Dick Dale, the track's original composer, makes a guest appearance on "Misirlou".
Roza Eskenazi was a famous Jewish-Greek singer of rebetiko and Greek folk music born in Constantinople, whose recording and stage career extended from the late 1920s into the 1970s.
Despina Olympiou, also known as Dena Olympiou, is a Greek Cypriot singer, famous in her homeland as well as in Greece. She represented Cyprus in the Eurovision Song Contest 2013 in Malmö, Sweden.
Antonis Diamantidis was a Greek musician. He was notable for his rebetiko songs. He was also a songwriter and best known as a singer.