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The music of Turkey includes diverse elements ranging from Central Asian folk music and music from Ottoman Empire dominions such as Persian music, Balkan music and Byzantine music, as well as more modern European and American popular music influences. In turn, it has influenced these cultures through the Ottoman Empire. Turkey is a country on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and is a crossroad of cultures from across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and South and Central Asia.
The roots of traditional music in Turkey spans across centuries to a time when the Seljuk Turks colonized Anatolia and Persia in the 11th century and contains elements of both Turkic and pre-Turkic influences. Much of its modern popular music can trace its roots to the emergence in the early 1930s drive for Westernization.
With the absorbance of immigrants from various regions the diversity of musical genres and musical instrumentation also expanded. Turkey has also seen documented folk music and recorded popular music produced in the ethnic styles of Armenian, Greek, Polish, Azeri and Jewish communities, among others. Many Turkish cities and towns have vibrant local music scenes which, in turn, support a number of regional musical styles. Despite this however, western-style pop music lost popularity to arabesque in the late 70s and 80s, with even its greatest proponents Ajda Pekkan and Sezen Aksu falling in status. It became popular again by the beginning of the 1990s, as a result of an opening economy and society. With the support of Aksu, the resurging popularity of pop music gave rise to several international Turkish pop stars such as Tarkan and Sertab Erener. The late 1990s also saw an emergence of underground music producing alternative Turkish rock, electronica, hip-hop, rap and dance music in opposition to the mainstream corporate pop and arabesque genres, which many believe have become too commercial.
Ottoman court music has a large and varied system of modes or scales known as makams, and other rules of composition. A number of notation systems were used for transcribing classical music, the most dominant being the Hamparsum notation in use until the gradual introduction of western notation. Turkish classical music is taught in conservatories and social clubs, the most respected of which is Istanbuls >Uskudar Musiki Cemiyeti.
A specific sequence of classical Turkish musical forms become a fasyl, a suite an instrumental prelude, an instrumental postlude (saz semaisi), and in between, the main section of vocal compositions which begins with and is punctuated by instrumental improvisations taksim. A full fasyl concert would include four different instrumental forms and three vocal forms, including a light classical song, sarki. A strictly classical fasyl remains is the same makam throughout, from the introductory taksim and usually ending in a dance tune or oyun havasy. However shorter ?arky compositions, precursors to modern day songs, are a part of this tradition, many of them extremely old, dating back to the 14th century; many are newer, with late 19th century songwriter Haci Arif Bey being especially popular.
Composers and Performers
Other famous proponents of this genre include Sufi Dede Efendi, Prince Cantemir, Baba Hamparsum, Kemani Tatyos Efendi, Sultan Selim III and Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. The most popular modern Turkish classical singer is Münir Nurettin Selcuk, who was the first to establish a lead singer position. Other performers include Bülent Ersoy, Zeki Muren, Muzeyyen Senar and Zekai Tunca.
Turkish Musical Instruments
Traditional instruments in Turkish classical music today include tanbur long-necked plucked lute, ney end-blown flute, kemence bowed fiddle, oud plucked short-necked unfretted lute, [kanun] plucked zither, violin, and in Mevlevi music, kudum drum.
Ottoman harem music: Belly Dancing
From the makams of the royal courts to the melodies of the royal harems, a type of dance music emerged that was different from the oyun havasy of fasyl music. In the Ottoman Empire, the harem was that part of a house set apart for the women of the family. It was a place in which non-family males were not allowed. Eunuchs guarded the sultans harems, which were quite large, including several hundred women who were wives and concubines. There, female dancers and musicians entertained the women living in the harem. Belly dance was performed by women for women. This female dancer, known as a rakkase, hardly ever appeared in public.
This type of harem music was taken out of the sultans private living quarters and to the public by male street entertainers and hired dancers of the Ottoman Empire, the male rakkas. These dancers performed publicly for wedding celebrations, feasts, festivals, and in the presence of the sultans.
Modern oriental dance in Turkey is derived from this tradition of the Ottoman rakkas. Some mistakenly believe that Turkish oriental dancing is known as Ciftetelli due to the fact that this style of music has been incorporated into oriental dancing by Greeks and Romany people, illustrated by the fact that the Greek belly dance is sometimes mistakenly called Tsifteteli. However, Ciftetelli is now a form of folk music, with names of songs that describe their local origins, whereas rakkas, as the name suggests, is possibly of a more mideastern origin. Dancers are also known for their adept use of finger cymbals as instruments, also known as zils.
19th century print of Romani musiciansFurther information: Romani music
Roma are known throughout Turkey for their musicianship. Their urban music brought echoes of classical Turkish music to the public via the meyhane or taverna. This type of fasil music (a style, not to be confused with the fasyl form of classical Turkish music) with food and alcoholic beverages is often associated with the underclass of Turkish society, though it also can be found in more respectable establishments in modern times.
Roma have also influenced the fasyl itself. Played in music halls, the dance music (oyun havasi) required at the end of each fasyl has been incorporated with Ottoman rakkas or belly dancing motifs. The rhythmic ostinato accompanying the instrumental improvisation (ritimli taksim) for the bellydance parallels that of the classical gazel, a vocal improvisation in free rhythm with rhythmic accompaniment. Popular musical instruments in this kind of fasyl are the clarinet, violin, kanun, and darbuka. Clarinetist Mustafa Kandyraly is a well known fasil musician.
The Janissary bands or Mehter Takymy is considered to be the oldest type of military marching band in the world. Individual instrumentalists were mentioned in the Orhun inscriptions, which are believed to be the oldest written sources of Turkish history, dating from the 8th century. However, they were not definitively mentioned as bands until the 13th century. The rest of Europe borrowed the notion of military marching bands from Turkey from the 16th century onwards.
Turkish influence on Western classical music
Musical relations between the Turks and the rest of Europe can be traced back many centuries, and the first type of musical Orientalism was the Turkish Style. European classical composers in the 18th century were fascinated by Turkish music, particularly the strong role given to the brass and percussion instruments in Janissary bands.
Joseph Haydn wrote his Military Symphony to include Turkish instruments, as well as some of his operas. Turkish instruments were included in Ludwig van Beethovens Symphony Number 9, and he composed a "Turkish March" for his Incidental Music to The Ruins of Athens, Op. 113. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote the "Ronda alla turca" in his Sonata in A major and also used Turkish themes in his operas, such as the Chorus of Janissaries from his Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail (1782). This Turkish influence introduced the cymbals, bass drum, and bells into the symphony orchestra, where they remain. Jazz musician Dave Brubeck wrote his "Blue Rondo á la Turk" as a tribute to Mozart and Turkish music.
Western influence on Turkish classical music
Leyla Gencer, known as "La Regina" (The Queen) in the opera world, was one of the greatest sopranosWhile the European military bands of the 18th century introduced the percussion instruments of the Ottoman janissary bands, a similar development was emerging in the opposite direction, that is the Europeanisation of the Ottoman army band, in the 19th century. It was also during this period that the famous opera composer Gaetano Donizettis brother, Giuseppe Donizetti, was invited to become Master of Music to Sultan Mahmud II in 1827.
After the decline of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of a Turkish republic, the transfer of the former Imperial Orchestra or Myzyka-y Hümayun from Istanbul to the new capital of the state Ankara, and renaming it as the Orchestra of the Presidency of the Republic, Riyaset-i Cumhur Orkestrasy, signalled a Westernization of Turkish music. The name would later be changed to the Presidential Symphony Orchestra or Cumhurba?kanly?y Senfoni Orkestrasy.
Further inroads came with the founding of a new school for the training of Western style music instructors in 1924, renaming theIstanbul Oriental Music School as the Istanbul Conservatory in 1926, and sending talented young musicians abroad for further music education. These students include well-known Turkish composers such as Cemal Resit Rey, Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Ahmet Adnan Saygun, Necil Kazym Akses and Hasan Ferit Alnar, who became known as the Turkish Five. The founding of the Ankara State Conservatory with the aid of the German composer and music theorist Paul Hindemith in 1936 showed that Turkey in terms of music wanted to be like the West.
However, on the order of the founder of the republic, Atatürk, following his philosophy to take from the West but to remain Turkish in essence, a wide-scale classification and archiving of samples of Turkish folk music from around Anatolia was launched in 1924 and continued until 1953 to collect around 10,000 folk songs. Hungarian composer Béla Bartók visited Ankara and the south-eastern Turkey in 1936 within the context of these works.
By 1976, Turkish classical music had undergone a renaissance and a state musical conservatory in Istanbul was founded to give classical musicians the same support as folk musicians. Modern day advocates of Western classical music in Turkey include Fazyl Say, Ydil Biret, Suna Kan and the Pekinel sisters.
Folk music or Turku generally deals with subjects surrounding daily life in less grandiose terms than the love and emotion usually contained in its traditional counterpart, Ottoman court music.Most songs recount stories of real life events and Turkish folklore, or have developed through song contests between troubadour poets. Corresponding to their origins, folk songs are usually played at weddings, funerals and special festivals.
Regional folk music generally accompanies folk dances, which vary significantly across regions. For example, at marriage ceremonies in the Aegean guests will dance the Zeybek, while in other Rumeli regions the upbeat dance music Çiftetelli is usually played, and in the southeastern regions of Turkey the Halay is the customary form of local wedding music and dance. Greeks from Thrace and Cyprus that have adopted çiftetelli music sometimes use it synonymously to mean oriental dance, which indicates a misunderstanding of its roots. Ciftetelli is a folk dance, differing from a solo performance dance of a hired entertainer.
The regional mood also affects the subject of the folk songs, e.g. folk songs from the Black Sea are lively in general and express the customs of the region. Songs about betrayal have an air of defiance about them instead of sadness, whereas the further south travelled in Turkey the more the melodies resemble a lament.As this genre is viewed as a music of the people, musicians in socialist movements began to adapt folk music with contemporary sounds and arrangements in the form of protest music.
In the 70s and 80s, modern bards following the a?yk tradition such as Asik Veysel and Mahsuni Serif moved away from spiritual invocations to socio-politically active lyrics.
Other contemporary progenitors took their lead such as Zulfu Livaneli, known for his mid-80s innovation of combining poet Nazim Hikmets radical poems with folk music and rural melodies, and is well-regarded by left-wing supporters in politics.
In more recent times, saz orchestras, accompanied with many other traditional instruments and a merger with arabesque melodies have kept modern folk songs popular in Turkey.
Religious music (Mosque music)
"Mosque music," a term for music associated with mainstream religion in Turkey, includes ezan (call-to-prayer), Kuran-y Kerim (Koran recitation), Mevlit (Ascension Poem), and ilahi (hymns usually sung in a group, often outside a mosque). On musical grounds, mosque music in large urban areas often resembles classical Turkish music in its learned use of makam and poetry, e.g., a Mevlit sung at Sultan Ahmet mosque in Istanbul. Dervish/Sufi music is rarely associated with a mosque. Kâni Karaca was a leading performer of mosque music in recent times.
Alevi influences: The Asik (Ashik) traditions
It is suggested that about a third of the Turkish population are Alevis, whose folk music is performed by a type of travelling bard or ozan called a?yk, who travels with the saz or baglama, an iconic image of Turkish folk music. These songs, which hail from the central northeastern area, are about mystical revelations, invocations to Alevi saints and Muhammads son-in-law, Ali, whom they hold in high esteem. In Turkish a?yk literally means "in love". Whoever follows this tradition has the Asik assignation put before their names, because it is suggested that music becomes an essential facet of their being, for example as in Asik Veysel.
Middle Anatolia is home to the bozlak, a type of declamatory, partially improvised music by the bards. Neset Ertas has so far been the most prominent contemporary voice of Middle Anatolian music, singing songs of a large spectrum, including works of premodern Turkoman asiks like Karacaoglan and Dadalo?lu and the modern a?yks like his father, the late Muharrem Ertas. Around the city of Sivas, a?yk music has a more spiritual bent, afeaturing ritualized song contests, although modern bards have brought it into the political arena.
Sufi influences: The Mevlevi traditions
Followers of the Mevlevi Order or Whirling Dervishes are a religious sufi sect unique to Turkey but well-known outside of its boundaries. They are not to be confused with other dervish sects that carry out self-mutilation in certain areas of Iran and Pakistan.
Dervishes of the Mevlevi sect simply dance a sema by turning continuously to music that consists of long, complex compositions called ayin. These pieces are both preceded and followed by songs using lyrics by the founder and poet Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi. With the musical instrument known as the ney at the forefront of this music, internationally well-known musicians include Necdet Yasar, Niyazi Sayin, Kudsi Erguner and Omer Faruk Tekbilek.
Regional folk styles
Minorities and indigenous peoples have added and enhanced Turkish folk styles, while they have adopted Turkish folk traditions and instruments. Folk songs are identifable and distinguished by regions.
Aegean and Rumeli regions
The region of Rumeli or Roumelia is used to indicate the part of Turkey which is in Europe, namely provinces of Edirne, Kirklareli, Tekirdag and the western part of Istanbul Province. Folk songs from this region share similarities with Balkan and Greek folk music, especially from the ethnic minorities and natives of Thrace. Cypriot folk music also shares folk tunes with this region, e.g. the Ciftetelli dance. These type of folk songs also share close similarities with Ottoman court music, strengthening the suggestion by some that the distinction between court and folk music wasnt always so clear. However, it could arguably be that folk songs from Istanbul were closely influenced by its locality, which would include Ottoman rakkas and court music.
The Turkish islands in the Aegean and cities like Izmir share similar motifs, such as the Zeybek dance.
Black Sea and Capsian Sea regions
Central Asian Turkic peoples from the Caspian Sea and areas have had a huge influence in the purest forms of Turkish folk music, most notably from the Azeris and Turkmen.Pontic Greeks on the eastern shore of the Black Sea or Karadeniz regions have their own distinct style of folk music, motifs from which were used with great success by Helena Paparizou. The diaspora of Greek speaking Pontic people from that region introduced Pontic music to Greece after 1924 population exchange between Turkey and Greece. The regions dance style uses unique techniques like odd shoulder tremors and knee bends. Folk dances include the gerasari, trgona, kots, omal, serra, kotsari and tik.
Kanto (Cantare Music)
Italian theater and opera has had a profound effect on Turkish culture in the past century. Like the terminology of seamanship, the terminology of music and theater derived from Italian. In the argot of the improvisational theater of Istanbul the stage was called "sahano", backstage was referred to as "koyuntu", backdrops depicting countryside were "bosko", the applause was "furi" and the songs sung between the acts and plays were called "kanto".
The improvised pieces were stage adaptations of the Karagoz (shadow puppet) and Ortaoyunu (traditional form of Turkish theatre performed in the open) traditions, aithough in much more simplifled form. The themes explored in these traditional theater arts as well as their stock characterizations and stereotypes were used as the framework tor the new extemporaneous performances of the tuluat (improvised) theater.
As with their Italian counterparts the Turkish troupes employed songs and music before the show and between the acts to peak peoples interest and draw in customers.
Kanto: songs sung between the acts as solos or duets, based on traditional eastern makam (modes) but performed on western instruments.
Kanto: "first the introduction, then the lyrics, shake your shoulders to a violin, solo, cock your head and shimmy in oriental dance style, leap around like a partridge, then slowly disappear behind the curtain."
Kanto: the irreplaceable unifying feature of ali Turkish tuluat theater. We can divide kanto into two periods. The division, particulariy in terms of musical structure, is very clear between the early kanto and the kanto of the Post-Republic perlod. It is further possible to identify two styles within the early period. Galata and Direklerarasi (both neighbourhoods of Old Istanbul).
Kanto first took root in the musical the aters of Galata, a part of town frequented by sailors, rowdies and roustabouts. Ahmet Rasim Bey paints a vivid picture of the Galata theaters in his novel Fuhs-i Akit (An Old Whore).
"Everyone thought Peruz was the most flirtatious, most skillful and the most provocative. The seats closest to the stage were always crammed full... They said of Peruz, "she is a trollop who has ensnared the heart of many a young man and has made herself the enemy of many. "Her songs would hardly be finished when chairs, flowers, bouquets and beribboned letters. Come flying from the boxseats. It seemed the building would be shaken to the ground."
Direklerarasi was a littie off the beaten track and Yn comparison to Galata was a more refined center of entertainment. Direklerarasy was said to be quite lively at night during the month of Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) and certainly once its attractions was its family atmosphere. It was here that the troupes of Kel Hasan and Abdi Efendi and later that of Neshid enjoyed a great popularity. It was under the influence of these masters that kanto experienced its golden years.
The troupes orchestra would be made up of such instruments as the trumpet, trombone, violin, and Trap drum and cymbals. The orchestra would start to play popular songs of the day and marches in front of the theatre about and hour before the show to drum up interest. This intermission or Antrak music ended up with the well known Izmir March, a sign that the show time was approaching. The play began as the musicians went in and took their places at the side of the stage.
The kanto singers of the period were also composers. Set to extraordinarily simple melodies which were the fashion of the day, the lyrics relied heavily of tensions between men and women as well as reflecting topical events. The compositions were in such fundamental makams as Rast, Huzzam, Hicaz, Hüseyni and Nihavent. Kanto songs are remember both by the names of their interpreters and by their creators, artists such as Peruz, Shamran, Kamelya, Eleni. Küçük and Büyük Amelya, Mari Ferha and Virjin. That kanto brought an erotic element to the stage performance was an important aspect and one that should not be overlooked or separated out.
Art and cultural life gained new dimensions with the changes brought about by the 1923 formation of the Turkish Republic. It was a period of rapid transformation and its effect were widespread. Turkish women had finally won the freedom to appear on the stage, breaking the monopoly previously held by Rûm (Istanbul Greek) and Armenian women who performed in musical and non-musical theatre. Institutions like Darulbedayi (Istanbul City Theatre) and Darulelhan (Istanbul Conservatory of Music) had long been turning out trained artists.
Western lifestyles and western style art put pressure on the traditional Turkish formats and these were swept off to the side. The operetta, the tango then later the Charleston and the fox-trot overshadowed kanto. Kantos popoularity began to fade, the citys centers of entertained shifted and the theaters of Galata and Direklerarasy were closed down. Turkish female artists were unreceptive to kanto s inherent ribairy and chose to keep their distance from it.
But there came a change agah in the 1935 s, there was a revival of interest in the kanto form. Aithough rather far from its fundamental principles a new type of kanto was önce again popular.
It is important to point out that kanto had now moved from the stage to the recording studio. While the subjects dealt with in the lyrics were stili the same old quarreis between men and woman, mixed in with satirical takes on fashion and current events. the songs were being written with the 78 rpm phonograph in mind. So much so that every record label hired their own kanto composers-and rather famous ones at that! With Columbia at the fore, record labels commissioned kanto from Kaptanzade Ali Ryza Bey, Refik Fersan, Dramaly Hasan, Sadettin Kaynak, Cumbus Mehmet and Mildan Niyazi Bey. The makams were the same but the instrumentation had changed. Kanto were now accompanied by cumbus (a fretlees banjo like instrument) the ud (a fretless) lute, and calpara (castenets). Foxtrot, Charleston (dance) and Rumba (dance) rhythms dominated. The tunes were being written and sung more tor listening than tor dancing. Female soloists include Makbule Enver, Mahmure, and Neriman; Be?iktasli Kemal Senman was the most sought after male singer tor duets.
Among the topics explored by the new kantocu (singer or composer of kanto) perhaps the most frequent subjert of satire was the new role of women brought about by the formation of the Republic. Songs like Sarhos Kyzlar (Drunken Girls) or Sofor Kadynlar (Women Drivers) were sung seemingly in revenge tor ali the suffering they had endured at the hands of men in the past. Other topical songs include Daktilo (The Typewriter) which brought to mind the newly formed Secretaires 7 Society. Songs such as Bereli Kyz (The Girl with the Beret) and Kadyn Asker Olursa (Women Were Soldiers) were full of mockery and ridicule.
The early period kanto were largely nurished by Istanbul culture. It was much the same in the Post-Republican period. The citys large and diverse population provided both the characters and the events that were the mainstay of kanto. Kanto was heavily influenced by musical theatre. Roman (gypsy) music and culture. which was itself of the subject of satire, left its mark on kanto form. Another major influence was Rum music. The importance of the Istanbul Rum, who were so fond of entertainment and of singing and playing, must not be underestimated. It is a natural and inevitable resuit of cultural exchange. As it was, almost all the kanto singers were either Rum or Armenian, artist like Pepron, Karakas, Haim, Samran and Peruz who performed during the period following 1903.
Eventually kanto became more of a definition, a generalized genre than a musical term. Any tune that was outside of the days musical conventions, anything light that appealed to current trends and tastes was labeled kanto. Any music played with different instruments that was free rhythmic or somehow novel was labeled kanto, it was the product of a middie class urban culture, of urban Istanbul.
This music, kanto, from the beginning of this century has been accepted as the forerunner oftodays pop culture and it succeeded in remaining popular tor close to halt a century.
Belly Dance , Whirling Dervishes , Anatolian Folk , Kolbasti