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thehandsom 01 Mar 2009

Turkish Music

Variety of Turkish music. (art / folk / pop)

First of all a bit of a history:


As everybody knows, we Turks in Turkey came from central Asia, lived over a very wide range of geographical area and have also founded or lived within many and various states. Our country is the cross roads of cultures between Europe and Middle east , the Caucasus and South and Central Asia. During our journey from central Asia to Anatolia we have been influenced by the cultures we encountered along the way and we did influence the others..I dont want to get into details of this cultural exchange but when we want to talk about Turkish music, the importance of these cultural exchanges should be noted first.. 


While the traditional music in Turkey takes its roots from central Asia, Byzantine, Persia, Arabs etc and goes back to centuries back, our modern pop music is the result of the drive of westernization and its roots go back to 1920s 1930s..


And also the other important characteristic of Turks is that Turks have expressed themselves more oral than written culture as centuries, they had nomadic life style ( and also resisted the printing with the influence of Islam)

Lets look at the major types of Turkish music: 

-Classical Turkish music: (Turk sanat muzigi- Turkish art music)


I remember some people in Turkey used to call it ´saray muzigi´- palace music-. (Saray means palace btw). Well, though  ´saray muzigi´ gives an impression of a kind of music developed by the ruling elites of Ottomans, but the identity of the this music was  always associated with Istanbul and urban areas in ottoman Empire and it was in deed this musical culture developed by the urban ruling class, who lived separately from the common people.


There are writers who think that Turkish art music was influenced by Byzantine music but actually, it is much more related to both Arabic classical music and Persian classical music.


Ok,  about the music itself:

The most important term in Turkish art music is something called ´makam´: The term applied to the rules which describe the progress of patterns in that song..(there are over 400 makams aprearantly and most of them are not in use. some names in makams es examples:  Sultan-i Yegah,  Hicazkar, Segah, Acem, Acem Kürdi, Kürdili Hicazkar, Hicaz, Hüseyni,Muhayyer )


The other important and central concept is something called ´taksim´ (Taksim is the centeral  ditrict of Istanbul too :) ), which means improvisation. Artists performing all together, each will take their turn and perform their improvisations in the spotlight and build their own melodic and rhythmic ideas.


There could be a prelude (something called ´pesrev´), and a postlude which is called ´semai´ in this type of music. These parts are the parts where the players would show their skills of using that instrument as well as their improvisation. (Now it came into my mind that, one of Turkish writers, ex politician Cetin Altan kept saying years after years as ´zurna´da pesrev olmaz´, which means the instrument ´zurna´  is not that sophisticated instrument, so you can not create something sophisticated as pesrev with it :) -btw..he uses those words for people ) 


Some of the instruments: Ud , ney, tanbur, kanun , clarinet, kemence , various type of drums (some of them called as ´darbuka´)


Examples of Turkish art music: 

hovarda zeybegi

saba makami

istanbul kasap havasi


-Turkish folk music:


As you can imagine from its name this type of music is folkloric music and it is anonymous.

Its roots go back to central asia and shamanism.

This kind of music  is the music of rural population and rural people´s social product. Main themese are real events, celebrations, funerals, gatherings etc and the songs are   the musical expression of folk literature of rural people..


As in all types of Turkish music in general, Turkish folk music is based primarily on lyrics. 


The songs in this type of music called ´Turku´ which means something ´belongs to Turks´.


Though primarily main contributers are ´asiks´ who create these songs with their own lyrics and personalize their songs, there are many Turku singers they would sing these songs again and again and along the way, a few words would be added and in the end they could create a completely different songs with new names..


As the folk music passed orally from generation to generations through the centuries, regional differences have taken shapes..When you listen to a folk music from black sea region of Turkey is completely different than the folk music you would hear from a Thrace region music for instance..

(example of black sea region music Kazim Koyuncu ella ella,  and a Thrace region example Deryalar from Arif Senturk   or Tolga Candar izmirin kavaklari as an example for an Agean region of Turkey)


Some of the instruments: Though which one is the main instrument will change from region the region but the main instrument generically speaking is saz /baglama , kemence, drums,zurna, mey..

Examples of folk music: 

Arif Sag mavilim

Musa Eroglu mihriban

Musa Eroglu Halil Ibrahim

Grup Kizilirmak - Haydar haydar


-Turkish pop music:


As I mentioned in the beginning, pop music is quite new to us Turks but it does not change the fact that it is the most popular branch of Turkish music and it is an inseparable part of our daily city (based) life.. 


I am not going to get into details of Turkish pop music as I assume most of you have heard of many Turkish pop songs starting with  with tarkan and his kiss kiss . 

But I would like to have a few words about our pop music´s illegitimate baby conceived from the folk music: Arabesque!


Sometimes it is called as  "yoz music -degenerated music ", "gecekondu -shanty town/ night buildings-  music" or as "minibus music.". This music contains almost every single aspects of the folk music but the songs mainly come from city life and culture, opposed to the rural culture which gave life to folk music. This music takes its material from the changing cultural structures of the cities after mass immigrations. The separation of the cultures in big cities and difficulties of adaptation have been the main contributers of this music. The main themes in this kind of music have  always been constant hopelessness and expressions of pain and That is the reason why some people (like me) show a negative attitude!!


I think the name ´Orhan gencebay´  specifically should be mentioned when we talk about arabesque music in Turkey as his unique style brought the term  "arabesque music" itself.


Some examples of arabesque music:

 Orhan Gencebay- hatasiz kul olmaz)

Ferdi Tayfur- Emmoglu 


And last,  let me give you some links to some Turkish lullabies as I assume, you are about to fall asleep  since you managed to make this far.  LOL

Dandini danalar


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