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Musical Instruments

Zither, in Turksh "Kanun"
It is a stringed instrument played on the lap and the strings are stretched across the upper surface of a wooden box
Lute, in Turkish "Ud"
The masters of the lute were revered by those interested in music
Ney, Reed Instrument
Ney, Reed Instrument
The ney is mostly used in mystic and religious music
Lute, in Turkish "Ud"
Lutes, also stringed instruments, have a sound box terminating in a neck

The musical instruments used by Turks are of three main groups: stringed, wind and percussion instruments. Turkish musical instruments were produced by the master-apprentice method in the Ottoman period. Traditional Turkish music is monophonic. Even though many instruments are used, they all play the same melody. The music reflects different emotions, mainly unrequited love and when it is sad it may sound depressing, but when expressing joy, happiness or pleasure you will find yourself dancing to the rhythm. The main instruments used in Turkish music show a great diversity. In classical Turkish music the zither, tambur, lute, tef (tambourine), darbuka and ney (reed flute) are some of the instruments used, besides the well-known ones also used in the west, including the piano, violin, viola and clarinet.

The zither is called ‘kanun’ in Turkish. It is a stringed instrument played on the lap and the strings are stretched across the upper surface of a wooden box. Skilled craftsmen may use seven kinds of wood in making one zither. The upper surface is made of sycamore wood, the lower surface of pinewood, the bridge is of maple. The design on the sides and the upper surface is cut out of rose wood and white pine. The soundboard is completed by using calf leather giving the zither its rich resonance. The tuning pegs and the peg locks are made of hardwood, either rose or ebony. The small tuning levers or tuning keys, are called ‘mandal’. It is played with the help of a plectrum, one fastened to each index finger by an adjustable metal ring.

It would not be wrong to say that if a single instrument were to represent Turkish folk music it would have to be the baglama. The baglama was developed from another instrument called the kopuz, which is also used today. There are different kinds of baglama, like the çögür, cura, divan, tambura and kopuz. The kopuz, also a stringed instrument, was used in Central Asia by Turkish tribes about two thousand years ago and is mentioned in the tales of Dede Korkut (a sage, the mentor of the Turkish Oguz tribe who narrates moralistic epic tales to a chieftain of the tribes). We come across the belief among the shamanist Turks that a warrior with a kopuz at his waist was protected in battle from injury at enemy hands. Turkish strolling minstrels brought the baglama to Anatolia and in fact, everyone knew how to play this instrument. The baglama is so-to-say a friend of the minstrels who at certain times of the year gather at contests and song festivals. Accompanied by music, repartee between the contestants is sometimes satirical, sometimes filled with irony but never insulting and is fun to listen to.

Then we have the lute which is a little different to those seen in Europe. The lute is called ‘ud’ in Turkish. Lutes, also stringed instruments, have a sound box terminating in a neck which serves both as a handle and a device for extending the strings beyond the sound box. The masters of the lute were revered by those interested in music. Today there are various trends in Turkish pop music and the lute is one of the main instruments accompanying the soloist both in classical Turkish music, popular mainstream music and folk songs. In Turkey there are singers who use the lute, just as their counterparts in the West use the guitar.

There are also reed instruments pipes equipped with a double reed or with a single reed. To name a few, we can give the examples of the zurna, ney, and shepherd’s pipe. Among them the ney is mostly used in mystic and religious music. Drums and the zurna go together and are mostly used in folk music and they are an indispensable part of wedding or circumcision festivities. In Turkish music rhythm is of utmost importance. Therefore percussion instruments used for this purpose apart from drums, include ‘kudüm’ (small double drums used in mystic religious music) and the darbuka. Percussion instruments were first brought to Europe after being seen in the Mehterband of the Turkish army around the sixteenth century. At first only a king or high nobleman was allowed to have one. For many years drums were “aristocratic” instruments, primarily used with trumpets to sound fanfares as the king entered a theatre or throne room. The def (tambourine), is also a popular instrument used for rhythms. It is like a handheld frame that usually has rattles attached to the side. It is both struck and shaken and sometimes used by young ladies dancing to a melody, in addition to its place in the orchestra.

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Posted June 2nd, 2013.

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Turkish Music

Basic Kanoun
Wood Engraving Kanun Musical String Instrument
Kemenche
The body is wooden. It has its bow associated.
Student Oud
The Oud is a pear-shaped stringed instrument
G Clarinet
The body is made of plain metal.
Darbuka
The goblet drum is a single head membranophone with a goblet shaped body

Turkey—rich in musical heritage—has developed this art in two areas, Turkish classical and Turkish folk music. When describing Turkish music today it is generally said that Ottoman Joombush 1composers availed themselves of the rich musical heritage found in the cultural centers of the Abbasid and the Timurogullari, where Turkish, Araband Iranian musicians performed and created music known as Ottoman court music. This music was based on mode and human voices. The mode and musical instruments of Turkish music can be found in all middle-east countries. However, with the passing of time, there have been changes in the mode from region to region. Although written sources indicate 600 modes, only 212 have survived to our day. These can be divided as follows: Simple modes Combined modes Modes with changing pitch Through the centuries many instruments have been used in Turkish music, such as the ud, tanbur, kemence, ney, kanun, kudum, bendir, def, halile, lavta, santur, rebap, musikar, cenk and sinelkeman. The various types of Turkish music differing in modes and pitch include tunes and spirituals and are classified as kar, murabba beste, agir semai, yuruk semai, sarki, pesrev, saz semai, taksim, gazel, ilahi and kaside. Turkish music is also graded under the four headings below: Oud Darbuka Non-religious music (with or without words)Military music Mosque music Islamic mystic music The history of Turkish music, especially in regard to melodic variations, can be divided into four periods. The first is the formation which goes back to the years 1360-1453, when the Turks adopted Islam. After the conquest of Istanbul, but prior to the period of classical music, Ottoman music was influenced by Byzantine music, mainly in the years 1640-1712. The greatest proponents of the Ottoman style after the exemplary classical music created by Itri were Ebubekir Aga, Tab’i Mustafa Efendi, Kucuk Mehmet Aga, Sadulla Aga, Padisha III Selim and Ismail Dede Efendi. The period from 1955 onwards has been designated as the reform period. Kanun Saz Intended reforms in the field of music during the Republican period led to debates on the subjects of European, Turkish, polyphonic and monophonic music. During this period composers who were noted for their work included Refik Fersan, Cevdet Cagla, Sadettin Kaynak, Selahattin Pinar, Suphi Ziya Ozbekkan, Lem’i Atli, Rauf Yekta, Suphi Ezgi, Huseyin Saadettin Arel and others.Currently, three groups represent Turkish music. The first group favors polyphonic music. The second group prefers an individual Tambourine 1interpretation of classical music. Numbered among this group were the Nevzat Atlig chorus, Bekir Sidki Sezgin, Meral Ugurlu, Niyzi Sayin, Necdet Yasar, Ihsan Ozgen, Erol Deran, Cinucen Tanrikorur and others. The third group preserves traditional ties coupledwith high quality and includes Yalcin Tura, Mutlu Torun, Ruhi Ayangil and others of the “new wave.” Turkish music is a product of Turkish thoughts and feelings and of migrations and changing geographical positions. It expresses the changes in the ways of life of the Turkish people throughout history. Ballads and songs are especially important. Turkish folk music encompasses all natural and communal events. It branches out into “Kirik Hava” and “Uzun Hava” and makes use of wind, string, and rhythm instruments. From 1926 onwards various state enterprises have conducted research into Turkish folk music.

In 1826, Sultan Mahmut II attempted to modernize the Turkish Army and organize a military band similar to the bands of western armies, and in 1828 the Imperial Band was founded.After the proclamation of the Republic, the orchestra was renamed the Riyaseti Cumhur Musiki Heyeti, and in 1958 it was again renamed the Presidential Symphony Orchestra, its current title. The Music Teachers Academy was opened in 1924 and the Ankara State Conservatory in 1936. Today there are conservatories in both Istanbul and Izmir. The flow of pop music from the west has also influenced Turkey, and since the 1960′s Turkey has followed world trends and produced artists in this field of music.

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Posted June 1st, 2013.

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