With the half-pear body of the lute and long neck, it is closely related to several similar 'long-necks' in Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia. The traditional three-course instrument suits an improvization style derived from the traditional musics of Asia Minor, using Turkish modes (makam).
Since the 1940s, the bouzouki with four courses has widened the possibility of introducing Western-style chords. Western major and minor scales have displaced the oriental makam as the framework.
The bouzouki has become the Greek urban instrument par excellence and is played throughout the Greek-speaking world. Greek composers trained in Western music, such as Mikis Theodorakis and Manos Hadjidakis, have used the bouzouki in their works, drawing on the old repertory of the instrument for melodic and rhythmic inspiration.