Music has existed for as long as mankind has found its voice, and quite possibly before. Every culture of the world has it’s own form of music, as distinct and unique to its area as language and cuisine.

World Music Day

Today is World Music day and the best way to celebrate is to spend the day listening to all your old favorites. If you’re truly feeling adventurous try listening to music from different cultures.

World Music Day

Click here to find out more about World Music Day

Music of Turkey

Modern Turkey is a fascinating place. It has been the home for many different civilizations, and now has the rich socio-cultural heritage you would expect from such a long and varied history.

Music is an important part of this social and cultural life. You can learn a great deal about Turkey just by understanding a little about the music. Turkey’s history and contemporary society is reflected in the music they listen to and make.

The roots of traditional music in Turkey span across centuries to a time when the Seljuk Turks migrated to Anatolia and Persia in the 11th century and contains elements of both Turkic and pre-Turkic influences.

Musical instruments of Turkey

The musical instruments used by Turks are of three main groups: stringed, wind and percussion instruments.

Let’s take a look at the most commonly used stringed instrument in Turkey.

The bağlama or saz

If a single instrument were to represent Turkish folk music it would have to be the Bağlama, sometimes referred to as the Saz.

Saz
Photograph courtesy of We Love Istanbul

What is a saz?

The term “saz” actually refers to a family of plucked string instruments, long-necked lutes used in Ottoman classical music and Turkish folk music (Türk halk müziği), Iranian, Kurdish, Armenian music, and in parts of Syria, Iraq and the Balkan countries.

Who plays the saz?

Quite a few people in Turkey can play the saz. People in the cities and villages play the instrument  and sing common folk songs called Türkü (literally meaning “of the Turk”).

Keeping the Yörük culture alive – saz players at the Yörük festival.

Professionals also play the saz. There are professional Türkü singers, and some are professional electro-saz players.

Ali Shaker on Electric Saz by Benn.
Ali Shaker on Electric Saz. Photograph by Benn.

In the eastern part of Turkey, professional and semi-professional singers called Aşıks (Ash-uks) write special songs and perform them in coffee houses and in other informal gatherings. The Aşıks are often self taught saz players, and they use the instrument to accompany songs they have written before hand or make up on the spot.

Aşık Veysel Şatıroğlu (1894-1973)
Aşık Veysel Şatıroğlu (1894-1973)

Turkish 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.

Next time you’re in Fethiye don’t miss the chance to listen to the saz.

Featured photograph courtesy of Tramamo.

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