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WORLD AND FOLK MUSIC NEWS
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Focus on: The Music of Turkey
The Turkic people came from Central Asia and settled on the Anatolian Plateau. Their original religions were Shamanism, Buddhism and Manichaeism, however they gradually adopted the faith of Islam. Having established their own state they began to gain possession of other parts of Anatolia (Asia Minor), moved into Europe, Africa and Asia and created the Ottoman Empire. Because the folklore of Turkey consists of so many heterogeneous elements, it never lost its ability to add and incorporate new influences.
Music has always has an important place in the lives of the Turkish people. The spectrum of music ranges from intricate improvisation of the solitary shepherd on his kaval (rim blown flute) through the traditional accompaniments of family and village events to the café music of urban society. There is also a considerable audience for light classical repertoire and a revival of interest in the high art form developed under Arab and Persian influence at the Ottoman court.
Tradition permits a great deal of variation in the choice of tonal scale, style and improvisation at the discretion of the individual expert performer. He will not expect to play a given piece in exactly the same way on different occasions. He will in any case improvise introductory sections and may on occasion interpolate lengthy passages of 'uzun hava' (unmeasured ornamented improvisation) between basic sections of well-defined rhythmic and melodic structures.
Turkish gypsies used to travel and live in their canvas-covered horse-drawn wagons, settling for short periods of time wherever they thought it suitable. Gypsy musicians, however, settle mainly in large towns where they can perform and earn their living. They are typically very talented 'natural' musicians. In their homes or environment they hear music from a very early age and usually begin to perform music in early childhood. Music is usually family tradition and business.
In Istanbul two areas are known as gypsy areas: Sulukule and Kasimpasa. There they open their houses to entertain visitors. Their services consist of music, drink, dance and food for a fixed fee. In Canakkale (Dardanelles) there is a place called Gönen with a high gypsy population. Here you can see children play clarinets, violins, darboukas (drums) etc. in the streets. It is not usual to see a gypsy child board a long distance bus, on which they offer musical entertainment for the duration of the journey in exchange for money. A lot of gypsies work as musicians for Turkish state radio and television.
Folk music is still a living tradition in Turkey which is upheld by folklore groups in many areas. The most important instruments of the folk tradition are the deblek (Arabic darabukka), a single-headed goblet shaped-drum which is played with both hands as an accompaniment to dancing, the hollo, a single-headed frame drum, the def, a single-headed frame drum with metal discs (tambourine), and the davul, a double-headed bass drum whose heads are stretched over hoops and laced to each other alongside the body. The main type of shawm (woodwind instrument) is the zurna, which has a tiny double reed. This is inserted completely into the mouth, and the player uses circular breathing. One of the most important bowed string instruments is the kemençe, an oblong bowed lute with three strings, which is found only on the eastern coast of the Black Sea. The rhythms of Turkish folk music are of great diversity. Besides simple and compound metres with enlivening syncopation there are other metres consisting of, for example, five, seven or eleven pulses.
Foremost among the dances are the halay, a round dance, almost exclusively performed by men. Other dances are the bar in eastern Turkey, the horon of the Black Sea and the zeybek in the west, which has become a national dance.