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Today

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  • 1. Today, Turkish music is a fusion of classical art music, folk songs, Ottomanmilitary music, Islamic hymns and the norms of western art music. ClassicalTurkish music is the courtly music of the Ottoman sultans that is an offspring of theArabic and Persian traditions. This music is not written down in scores; with onlythe maquam, which is a similar pattern of major-minor scale system, being markeddown. Improvisation (taksim) is a traditional variation technique, featuring theform. One of the characteristics of Turkish classical and folk music, as well as themilitary music and the hymns, is being monophonic. There are about 24 unequalintervals and almost numberless modes.Aksak is the irregular meter typical to Turkish folk music. This metric patternprovides a rich texture to the doubles, triples and quadruples of time measures ofthe western music. The tradition of regional variations in the character of folkmusic prevails all around Anatolia and Thrace even today. The troubadour (singer-poets) contributed to this genre for ages anonymously.Turkish military music of the Janissary Band influenced 18th and 19th centuryEuropean music, with its percussive character, aksak rhythms and mystical tones.Inspired by the Janissary bands, both Mozart and Beethoven wrote Alla turcamovements; Lully and Handel composed operas.Western music became known in the 19th century because many foreign musiciansvisited Istanbul and performed concerts. Giusseppe Donizetti was one of them. Hefounded a band in 1831 after Sultan Mahmut II abolished the Guild of Janissariesin 1826.The proclamation of the Republic in 1923 by Ataturk heralded a new era under hisleadership. Turkey underwent such reforms that transformed her from an orientalempire to a western nation. In the early years, a group of talented young musicianswas sent to European cultural centers for training. As they returned, they becamethe founders of modern Turkish art music. Conventional approach considers five ofthese composers, commonly called the Turkish Five as the first generation of thepolyphonic school. Namely, Cemal Resit Rey (1904-1985); Ulvi Cemal Erkin(1906-1972), Hasan Ferit Alnar (1906-1978), Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991)and Necil Kazim Akses (1908-) are the members of this group. Their torchilluminated the way for successive generations. Their common aim was to useTurkish art and folk music tunes to compose in Western norms. Later compositionsbecame more spontaneous in inspiration with each composer exhibiting the colorand mysticism of folk tunes in his style. While direct inspiration becomes less andless obvious, the original tunes remain detectable nonetheless. The compositionstyles of some of the leading composers of polyphonic music can be explained inshort such as:
  • 2. Cemal Resit Rey (1904-1985) a pioneer among polyphonic Turkish composers,Rey is also known as a conductor, pianist and teacher. He is the founder of theIstanbul City Orchestra. He studied in Paris and Geneva becoming a student toGabriel Faure. His compositions are all in a modal structure, tonal and melodic.Ahmed Adnan Saygun (1907-1991) is a hallmark in Turkish music as a pioneer inpolyphonic composition, an ethnomusicologist and an instructor. Saygun studied onpre-modal and modal music. His compositions are all in a modal structure butsometimes with a pentatonic character.Ulvi Cemal Erkin (1906-1972), a pioneer of modern Turkish music, he was acomposer, pianist and teacher. His works are a blend of elements that were drawnfrom Turkish folk dances, traditional modes, mystical Islamic philosophy and thenorms of western music.Bulent Arel (1918-1991) installed the electronic music studios at the StateUniversity of New York at Stony Brook. Most of his works are derived entirelyfrom electronic sound material.Ilhan Usmanbas (1921-) belongs to the second generation of Turkish polyphoniccomposers. His first international success came with FROMM Music Award in thein 1955. His composing method is a direct product of his eclecticism. His tools finda wide spectrum from neo-classicism to aleatory; 12-tone to serialism; blocs tominimalism.Kamran Ince (1960), Aydin Esen(1962) and Fazil Say (1970) characterise the newgenerations of Turkish polyphonic music. Their compositions are quite eclecticwith the traces of traditional Turkish music as well as the modern western trends,including the pop and jazz elements.In Turkey, there are six state conservatories, four symphonic orchestras and threeopera houses. Bilkent University has a private music school and a privatesymphonic orchestra in Ankara. Music festivals that are held yearly in Istanbul (for25 years) and Ankara (for 14 years) are the members of European FestivalsAssociations.
  • 3. Institutions:The state conservatories can be listed as follows: Ankara HacettepeUniversity; Istanbul University; Istanbul Mimar Sinan University; IzmirDokuz Eylül University; Mersin University; Edirne University. Çukurova(Adana) University. The traditional Turkish music conservatories are asfollows: Istanbul Technical University; Izmir Ege University and GaziantepUniversity. There are four state symphony orchestras (Ankara Presidetial,Istanbul, Izmir and Adana) as well as opera and ballet houses. BilkentUniversity has a private music school and a symphonic orchestra in Ankara.Music festivals that are held yearly in Istanbul (for 25 years) and Ankara(for 14 years) are the members of European Festivals Associations.Further ReadingAKSOY, Bulent, Avrupali Gezginlerin Gozuyle Osmanllarda Musiki / Music inOttomans, PanYayincilik, Istanbul, 1994ALTAR, Cevad Memduh, Opera Tarihi / History of Opera Cilt 4, Kultur EserleriDizisi: 25,BARTOK, Bela, Turkish Folk Music from Asia minor, Princeton University Press,Princeton, 1976ILYASOGLU, Evin, 25 Turk Bestecisi/25 Turkish Composers, PanYayincilik,Istanbul, 1989ILYASOGLU, Evin, Muzigin Kanatlarinda Soylesiler, Pan Yayincilik,Istanbul,1992ILYASOGLU, Evin, Ilhan Usmanbasa Armagan, Sevda Cenap And Muzik VakfiYayinlari, Ankara, 1994ILYASOGLU, Evin, Zaman Içinde Muzik, Yapi ve Kredi Yayinlari, Istanbul,1994(4.baskI 1996)ILYASOGLU, Evin, Cemal Resit Rey-Muzikten ibaret bir dunyada gezintiler, Yapive Kredi YayinlariSAY, Ahmet, Muzik Tarihi / History of Music, Muzik Ansiklopedisi Yayinlari,Ankara,1994,SELANIK, Cavidan, Muzik Sanatinin Tarihsel Seruveni, Doruk Yayimcilik,Ankara, 1996.