All About Turkey

Turkish Music

Turkish music comes from various old music courses and has developed its own style combining the Central Asian folk music from the Seljuk period with the Byzantine, Persian, Ottoman, Arab, Balkan and gypsy musics until the present, as well as mixing the American and European popular music with these traditional ones. The Turkish folk music developed throughout the centuries by the local people of Anatolia, who also practiced religious and military music too, such as the Whirling Dervishes' Sufi music and the Jannissary band of the Ottoman army. Arabesque music came into the Ottoman palaces with the influence from the Middle East, and belly dance music became popular in the Ottoman Harem. In the meantime intellectuals who lived in the cities developed the classical music. Generally speaking, the pop, rock and jazz were developed only after the Republic and lately they became an important music genre amongst young people in the country, especially in the big cities. During the late 1990's, the underground music, Turkish rock, hip-hop, rap, electronica, and dance music became popular too as a part of American influence from around the world.

After the Republic founded by Ataturk in 1923, the Ankara State Conservatory was established in 1936 and a department of Turkish music was opened by the Istanbul Municipality Conservatory in 1943. Later in the 1950s classical Turkish music became very popular after the establishment of the "Classical Chorus". The first Turkish Music Conservatory was established in Istanbul in 1976, and right after that the first State Classical Turkish Music Chorus was inaugurated. The Ankara, Izmir, Bursa, Samsun, Diyarbakir and Elazig State classical Turkish music choruses, the Istanbul Historical Turkish Music Ensemble, the Konya Turkish Mystical Music Ensemble, the Edirne and Istanbul Turkish music groups were established in this period. Other Turkish Music State conservatories opened in Izmir in 1984, Gaziantep in 1988, Konya in 1994 and Afyon in 2001.

Like in the rest of the world, music has an important place in the Turkish daily life and culture; there is a great number of local and international music festivals, choruses and concerts all around Turkey. Some of the famous and popular singers in Turkey are Tarkan, Sezen Aksu, Ajda Pekkan, Sertab Erener, Mustafa Sandal, Serdar Ortac, Kenan Dogulu, Nilufer, Baris Manco, Sebnem Ferah, MFO group, and so on. Amongst classical music singers or players we can name the pianists Fazil Say, Idil Biret and Pekinel sisters, the violinist Suna Kan, the flutist Sefika Kutluer, the clarinetist Mustafa Kandirali, singers Bulent Ersoy, Zeki Muren, Ibrahim Tatlises and many many others. Some of the most known Turkish folk music performers are Zulfu Livaneli, Arif Sag, Neriman Altindag, Nida Tufekci, Mehmet Ozbek, Mukerrem Kemertas, Bedia Akarturk, Hale Gur, Neset Ertas, and Belkis Akkale.

The pop singer Sertab Erener won the 48th Eurovision Song Contest held in Riga, Latvia in 2003 with her song "Every Way That I Can". The flutist Sefika Kutluer won the First Gold CD of 2005 Award of VDE - GALLO, one of the leading music production companies in Switzerlend. Idil Biret (pianist), Suna Kan (violinist), Guher and Suher Pekinel sisters (duet pianists), Ismail Asan (violinist), Fazil Say (pianist), Cihat Askin (violinist), Ayla Erduran (violinist) and GulSen Tatu (flutist) are some of the famed Turkish musicians who have won many awards in international contests and recorded a great number of albums. More than 100 million foreign and domestic music CD's and cassettes are sold annually in Turkey, and millions of song downloaded online. The "Yunus Emre Oratorio" by Adnan Saygun was performed in Paris and New York and is well known across the world.

Turkish Symphony Orchestras, both private and state run such as the Presidential Symphony Orchestra or the State Symphony Orchestras in various big cities, the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, the Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra and the Akbank Chamber Orchestra, are giving live concerts throughout the country and promoting polyphonic Turkish music abroad such as in Germany, USA, France, Spain, Italy, South Korea and in many other countries. Some of the famous Turkish classical or polyphonic music composers are Adnan Saygun, Saadettin Kaynak, Serif icli and Selahattin Pinar. Some of the prize holding conductors are Hikmet Simsek, Gurer Aykal, Rengim Gokmen and Betin Gunes.

The most known Turkish music types and popular music genres played in Turkey are:

  • Classical Turkish Music
  • Polyphonic Turkish Music
  • Turkish Folk Music
  • Arabesque / Belly Dance Music
  • Pop, Rock and Jazz
  • Military Music (Janissary Band)
  • Religious and Sufi Music

As elements of the music, there are several traditional turkish musical instruments as well as modern ones which are used in Turkey. Some of these instruments derived from the Middle East, others are local Anatolian, and some are modern too. You can have more information on the typical Turkish musical instruments at this link.

Source: BYEGM

All About Turkey © Burak Sansal 1996–2014, a certified professional tour guide in Turkey. Contact Burak at buraksan@superonline.com for all kinds of regular and/or private travel services throughout the country.