Folk Music / Local Music
This music bears the signs of local cultures and the names of their
creators are usually indefinite.
The folk music of our country has a structure that was formed by
collecting the specific cultural values of all civilizations that have
been living in Anatolia and Turkish Thrace since the old times of history
and incorporating cultural differences of the regions and thus, that is
rare throughout the whole world with its prosperity and diversity.
Although our folk music has much diversity and difference with respect to
regional characteristics, it can be reviewed under the below 6 regions in
a general classification:
Istanbul and Turkish Thrace,
On the other hand, it should be kept into mind that substantial
differences may exist between some cities, centers or districts located
within the same region
Ottoman Artistic Music
This type of music, today mostly called as Classical Turkish Music or
Turkish Artistic Music prospered, ripened, improved its form/esthetics
and gained the identity of an artistic music in parallel with the
establishment, growth and strengthening of the Ottoman State. This music
gave products on many themes such as religion, love, military and war and
each of these formed their respective types, forms and groups. Ottoman
Artistic Music was influenced by the music cultures of new countries that
joined the empire and it received and gave out elements. However, starting
from the early 19th century when the empire started to retrograde and
collapse, a gradual loss in depth and loosening is observed in this
artistic music as well. While diverse airs and measures were used
previously, this understanding was gradually abandoned and it became the
entertainment music of the city. Şarkı type substituted almost all types
in this development that lasted up to now and became more popular as it
Whereas writing notes was not attached much attention until mid-19th
century, many works within this scope were forgotten and diminished. The
number of works that could survive to date by being written during any
period is around 8000, of which approximately 3000 are those composed from
15th century until the end of 18th century and approximately 5000 are
those produced in 19th century. Some more works produced in the first
quarter of 20th century can be added to these works, which dated back to
very old times with respect to airs, rhythms, forms and playing
instruments and methods and were formed within the framework of some
specific rules. The
music that has been continued to be produced under the
title of Turkish Artistic Music or Classical Turkish Music to date and
gradually transformed into popular forms can be considered to be an
extension of Ottoman music that transformed into today's norms.
Ottoman Artistic Music is a synthesis. It bears many riches of the
history. It was shared and formed together with minorities living with
Turks, such as Byzantines, Turkish Greeks, Iranians, Arabs, Jews and
Armenians and it reached its most brilliant era in Enderun, Ottoman Palace
school. No country using this system could reach the artistic level
reached by the Ottomans.
Ottoman Artistic Music was formed and performed within a Fasıl order
based on the principle of unity of air.
Fasıl: It is the concert consisting of pieces composed in the
same air by being arranged in a certain order. In a full Fasıl, there are
both verbal and instrumental pieces. While forming a Fasıl, it is basic
that the pieces be of the same air and they are arranged in a certain
order according to their types and forms. In general, two Bestes and two
Semaîs have to be composed to form a fasıl of an air. These are verbal
pieces. The bestes are in the forms of Murabba or Nakış. Murabbas
composed on two couplets of a Gazel can be with or without Terennüms.
Melodies formed with meaningless words such as ten, tenen, tenenen, ten
nen ni, etc. or meaningful words such as canım, ömrüm (my dear, my
life), etc. in accordance with the measure besides the lines of the poem
forming the lyrics of the piece are called Terennüm. 1st, 2nd and 4th
lines of the poem are related to the same melody. The melody of the 3rd
line is different and in this section called Miyan Hâne, air passages or
extensions are often made. Terennüm comes after each line in Murabba's
with Terennüm. The Terennüm of Miyan Hâne can be different. In Nakış's, on
the other hand, two lines are composed in connection with each other and
then a long Terennüm comes.
The first of verbal Semaî's, which are in the same form with Murabba or
Nakış but composed in Semaî measure, is Ağır Semaî (slow) and the
second is Yürük Semaî (vivid). In a Fasıl, verbal pieces such as Kâr
and Şarkı, and instrumental pieces such as Taksim, Peşrev, Saz
Semaîsi (instrumental semaî) and Oyun Havası (belly-dance air) can be
added to these. Thus, the structure of a full fasıl is formed as:
a) Prelude Taksim played by any instrument,
c) First Beste or Kâr,
d) Second Beste,
e) Ağır Semaî,
f) Şarkı's (sequenced from those with large measures and grave
character to those with small measure and vivid character),
g) Yürük Semaî,
h) Saz Semaîsi.
Kâr is a type of verbal piece largely using the Terennüm element
and requiring great mastery, and is one of the most sophisticated forms.
Şarkı is a form that emerged in our literature with the influence of
folk songs. Şarkı's consist of lines and have different names according
to the number of lines. They are composed in small measures and can have
very different structures. They drew great interest particularly after
19th century and overshadowed the other forms of verbal pieces. In 20th
century, they became further eminent, went beyond accustomed structures,
transformed into the type of Fantasy and gradually became more
popular, and except very few successful examples, they led to the loss
of depth in traditional artistic music to some extent.
The primary instrumental piece forms used in Ottoman Artistic Music
Peşrev: It is a form of instrumental piece generally composed
with large measures such as Darb-ı Fetih, Sakîl, Muhammes and
Devr-i Kebir and sometimes with Düyek measure, incorporating
different melodies and consisting of sections called Hane and a
section called Mülâzime, repeated between them without much change.
Saz Semaisi: Despite having the same structure with Peşrev's,
these are instrumental pieces composed with the measures of Semaî (6
cycles), Aksak Semaî (10 cycles) and Yürük Semaî (6 cycles) and are
called Saz Semaîsi (Instrumental Semaî). They are performed at the end
of the fasıl, following Yürük Semaî.
Taksim: These are melodies performed freely and spontaneously
by a single instrument within the air, but without depending on a
measure, in order to present the air, lead, warm up or pass to another
Oyun havası: These are instrumental pieces composed for
Measures: Measures up to 15 cycles are called Small measures
and larger than 15 cycles are called Large measures. The use of two
large measures together is called Darbeyn. There are also measure series
formed by the following of several measures of each other. One of these is
Zencîr measure consisting of five measures and has 60 cycles according
to one view and 120 according to another. Within small measures, those
with 5, 7, 9, etc. cycles or measures with 10 cycles such as Aksak Semaî
are classified under Aksak measures. The real measure called Aksak is
that sequenced as 2+2+2+3.
Ottoman Music - Samples
Ottoman Music - Modern Samples
Mehter (Janissary) Music
Mehter is the indication of grandeur, splendor and magnificence in
Turkish tradition; it is not a means of gaiety. The sublimity and
celebrity of the State echoes with the boom of drums. Concepts of the
unity of people and the loftiness of the state are very important in the
state understanding of the Turks. Such beliefs and traditions existed also
in the Turkish states before Islam and Seljuk and Ottoman states with
There are three important symbols in this structure:
Otağ (large tent) is the place where the khan or the commander
in chief resides. This occurs as a sign of war, because the otağ is
established during only wartime.
Hakanın Kösü (Khan's Large Drum) is located in front of the
khan's tent and belongs only to the khan.
Hakanlık Mehteri (Khan's Band) is the
musical band playing under
the flag and in front of khan's tent in order to encourage the soldiers.
The flag and the Janissary band are very important inseparable
phenomena in the Turkish state. The otağ was left upon the beat of the
Janissary band and the initial steps of war raids were thus taken. In the
Central Asia traditions of the Turks, the ceremony of beating the Large
Drum placed in front of the tent of Khan, who was the head of the state,
at certain times of the day and showing his power was called as beating or
knocking Nevbet (Nevbe).
Beating Nevbet was interpreted as the Khan's showing his power to the
friends and enemies and particularly frightening the enemies. The
Janissary band, which was maintained as a sacred asset like the flag in
the Ottomans, besides being an important indicator of independence and
state's existence, used to stimulate and excite the feelings, encourage
the troops and moralize the army with the epic airs that it played and
demoralize and defeat the enemy with the great boom that is caused in
field battles, fortress besieges and sea battles during the attack
launched against the enemy. In field battles, one single khan's large drum
was a band on its own. The khan's large drum used to determine attacks and
pauses and the Janissary band consisting of drums and pipes used to direct
the army in war. Defeat in war was admitted upon the plunder of the
Janissary band. Therefore, the most severe battles were around the flag
and the Janissary band.
It is clear that the Janissary band was in some sense away from being
merely a music group in the battlefield and its musical aspect was more
evident during peacetime. During peacetime, the Janissary band was an
indication that the khan's sultanate and the state life continued.
Moreover, the drum and the band also used to perform information and
announcement works of the state.
The Ottoman Janissary band consisted of aerophones such as shrill pipe,
pipe, kurrenay and band whistle, and membraphones or patting instruments
such as large drum, drum, timbale, cymbal and stick. The number of
instruments was kept equal and the factor of the band was determined on
the basis of such number. The Sultan's Janissary band, which was called
Tabl ü alem-i hassa and was the greatest, had nine factors. This meant
that there was nine from each instrument. This number later increased up
to twelve, even sixteen. Besides the Sultan, the Prime Minister, Members
of the cabinet and the Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs also had
Janissary bands and Janissary bands used to work in various counties and
fortresses of the country.
The influential power of the Janissary band was also assessed by the
Europeans and Military Music groups, Bands were established in various
European countries by taking the Janissary band as an example.
Mehter (Janissary) Music - Samples
music used in obligations, Sunna and excess worship, call to
worship, assistance or decoration under the requirements of the Islam
religion and called as Şer'i (Canonical) Music and Tasavvufî (Mystic)
Music according to the manner of utilization and as Mosque Music and
Convent Music according to the place of
performance can be handled under the general title of Religious Music. Forms with an important place in Islam worship such as Tilâvet (Koran reading), Ezan (call for prayer), Salevât, Temcîd, etc. are included in Mosque Music. The music performed by various mystic paths, particularly Mevlevî's and Bektâşî's, in their ceremonies including also some kind of religious dance, Mevlevî Âyins (rites) and Bektâşî Deyiî Deyişs and Semahs are classified in the Mystic Music.