Different types of dances in different regions There are many different types of folk dances performed in various ways in Turkey, and these reflect the cultural structure of each region. The Bar in Erzurum province, the Halay in the East and Southeast, the Hora (or Karsilama) in Thrace, the Horon in the Black Sea, the Kasik(spoon) dances in and around Konya, the Zeybek in western Turkey, the Teke in the west and south of Turkey and Romany dances from northwest of Turkey are the best known examples of these.
Folk Dance Traditions, Beliefs, Legends and Stories Some dances reflect natural events or daily life, and others treat social events and matters of the heart. For example, the Kimil dance from Urfa province portrays a kind of pest that harms the crops and the way that villagers attempt to deal with it. Other dances refer to other stories.
Folk Dances By Subject Matter Folk dances may be divided into those that describe the relationship between man and nature, those that deal with rain, mist and rivers, those that describe plants, those that are defined as numbers, those that describe the relationship between man and animals and those that take social events such as fighting, war, love and courtship as their subject matter. Then there are those that reflect the ceremonies performed when a young man is about to go off to do his military service. There are dances about agriculture, the harvest and damaged crops. Other dances describe different occupations, such as shepherds. Men can perform dances that mirror the everyday lives of women. Then there are dances that describe daily tasks such as baking bread and milking, and others that describe a production procedure such as spinning yarn.
Preparations and Reasons for the Performance of Folk Dances Folk dances are performed at weddings, engagement ceremonies, when sending young men off to perform their military service, at national and religious festivals, after victories, going to and coming back from from the high plateaus and at meetings such as ferfene, yaren talks, barana or sira gezmesi.
Dances are generally performed in all suitable open areas, but may also be performed in close areas as well. People who enjoy reputations as good folk dancers are especially invited to wedding ceremonies. These are respectable people who have knowledge of that region’s music and folk dances. Folk dances owe their rich variety of moves to such people, who happily improvise while performing in order to show off their skills. In this way, dances are successfully passed on to people who may or may not be capable of dancing themselves, especially the young ones.
Adapting Folk Dances Folk dances eventually moved away their natural environment and became an art form of their own by means of contests and festivals. Arrangements are being made to adapt these dances to the stage.
Folk Dance Names and Instruments
People wear daily or special costumes in line with the reasons behind the particular dance. In Turkey folk dance is invariably accompanied by musical instruments. In some regions, women perform also folk dances to the accompaniment of folk songs. Folk dances are named after their creators, geographic regions, or the natural events or stories they relate.
TURKISH MUSIC CULTURE
Turkey’s cultural fabric is made up of a rich combination of diverse cultures rooted deeply in history. By virtue of its geographical position, Turkey lies at the axis of the cultures of the East, the West, the Middle Eastern, the Mediterranean and Islam. Anatolia is one of the world’s oldest human habitats – hosts of civilizations have called it home – and it enjoys a unique cultural richness with its thousands of years of history. Anatolia’s cultural variety is so rich that we can see great cultural differences even in areas geographically quite close to each other. This colorful portrait holds just as true for Turkey’s music.
We can categorize the types of music heard through the years of Anatolia’s long history into three groups:
Traditional Music The Concept of Traditional Music: This is generally music that is created in a common manner, has continued from the time of its production right down to the present day, is popular and frequently played and recited in its region and by local people, and is usually anonymous. In Turkey, music that conforms to the above definition, which is produced by and located in a settled culture and which has thereby become traditional, can be classified as either ‘religious’ or ‘secular.’ These can also be considered under the headings ‘Folk Music’ and ‘Ottoman Music.’ These two groups have many features in common, and can be classified as either ‘instrumental’ or ‘with lyrics.’
Folk Music These are forms of music created by people settled in one particular location, played or recited with great affection, which have become the joint creation of the people of the area in question, and which have been passed down and kept alive down to the present day. Such music bears the traces of local cultures, and the names of the composers are generally unknown.
Turkish folk music has combined the distinct cultural values of all those civilisations which have lived in Anatolia and the Ottoman territories in Europe. It is a unique structure which includes regional differences under one umbrella, giving rise to a wealth and variety the like of which can seldom be seen anywhere else in the world. Despite that wide variety from the point of view of regional characteristics, Turkish folk music can broadly be classified into the following seven regional categories: One must nevertheless bear in mind, of course, that there may well be important differences between cities or areas within the same region.
Varieties of Folk Music Music accompanied by words can be classified under the following headings: Türkü(folksongs), Kosma (free-form folk songs about love or nature), Semai (poetic form), Mani ( a traditional Turkish quatrain form),Destan (epic), Deyis (speech), Uzun Hava (impro melody), Bozlak (a folk song form), Agit(a lament), Hoyrat, Maya (a variety of Turkish folksong), Bogaz Havasi (throat tune), Teke Zorlatmasi, Ninni (lullaby), Tekerleme(a playful form in folk narrative), etc.
These are divided into free-forms or improvisations with no obligatory metrical or rhythmic form, known as Uzun Hava, and those which no have a set metrical or rhythmic structure, known as ‘Kirik Havalar,’ (Broken -meaning a structured form- Melodies ). Both can also be employed at the same time.
Music generally played without words, and dance tunes, go by the names Halay, Bengi, Karsilama, Zeybek, Horon, Bar etc.
Folk Music Scales Although Turkish folk music melodies possess the same note and scale modules as traditional Ottoman Classical Music, the melodies known as ‘Makam’ (similar to the medieval concept of mode) in Turkish folk music can be known by different names depending on the region, such as: Besiri, Garip, Kerem, Misket, Müstezad etc.
Rhythm and Beat in Folk Music Simple (even) beats such as 2/4, 4/4 and 3/4, irregular beats such as 5/8, 7/8, 9/8, 7/4, 9/4 and 5/4, and mixed beats such as 8/8, 10/8 and 12/8 are used in folk music.
Folk Music Spheres of Use Melodies of differing types and styles have been created by the people in various spheres and stages of life, joyful or sad, from birth to death. Minstrel singers, accompanying themselves on the saz, played a most important role in the development and spread of Turkish folk music.
TRADITIONAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Cordophones (stringed instruments) The sound from these instruments is produced by the vibration of the strings. These may be classified into two groups:
Bowed stringed instruments: For example: The kemençe (small violin played like a cello), Kabak Kemane (iklig) (three-stringed violin), violin.
Plucked stringed instruments:For example: Ud (lute), tambur(like a mandolin), çeng(primitive harp), tar, kanun (like a zither), santur (dulcimer), kopuz (like a lute), the baglama family (with three double strings and two necks) – meydan sazi (largest of the saz family), court saz, bozuk (nine stringed lute), tambura, cura, üçtelli (three-string), onikitelli (twelve-string), çarta, etc.
Aerophones (Wind instruments) Instruments whose sound comes from the vibration of the air in or around them. For example: Zurna (like an oboe), çifte, mey (small oboe from eastern Anatolia),kaval (flageolet),sipsi (ile a boatswain’s pipe), çigirtma (small fife), tulum (bagpipe), accordeon, etc.
Membranophones (Skinned instruments) Instruments that produce their sound from the striking of a skin. For example: Dümbelek (small drum) deblek, darbuka (drum made by stretching a skin over a clay cylinder)), davul(drum), daire (tambourine), def(tambourine with cymbals), kudüm (small double drum), zilli def (stringed def) etc.
Ideophones (Instruments that strike their own bodies) These are instruments played by means of striking, beating, waving etc. And are usually made of hard materials, giving off sound by the vibration of their entire bodies. For example: Zil(cymbal), masa (fork), çalpara (castinets), Saksak (the spoons), çan (bell), çengizli(cymbalet),
The form of music today generally known as Türk Sanat Müzi?i, or Ottoman Classical Music, matured, developed in form and aesthetics and came to assume the identity of a form of classical music in parallel to the establishment, growth and increasing strength of the Ottoman state itself. This variety of music furnished products dealing with many subjects, such as religion, love and war. Each of these then came to develop its own varieties, styles and communities. Ottoman music was influenced by other musical cultures as new nations became absorbed into the empire, giving and receiving various elements. From the beginning of the 19th century, however, as the empire began to recede and collapse, increasing shallowness and laxness can be seen in Ottoman music. While rich modes and styles had been employed in the past, this concept gradually faded and turned into metropolitan entertainment music. That process has continued to the present day, and the ‘popular song’ has become increasingly popular and popularised, effectively taking the place of the other forms.
A great number of works were actually forgotten and disappeared as less importance was attached to notation in the middle of the 19th century. The number of works that were written down and have survived down to the present day is some 3,000 for works composed between the 15th century and the end of the 18th. The number produced during the 19th century is around 5,000, giving a total of 8,000. A number of works from the first quarter of the 20th century can also be added to those works, which from the point of view of mode, style, means and methods of vocalisation go back to the very earliest times within a framework of their own distinct rules. Ever since then, the music that has continued to be produced under the name of ‘Turkish Classical Music,’ and which has grown ever more popular, can be seen as an extension of Ottoman music adapted to present-day norms.
Ottoman music is a synthesis, carrying within it a great many historical riches. It emerged as the result of a sharing process between the Turks and the minorities living alongside them, the Byzantines, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Jews, Armenians etc. It reached its golden age in the private school in the Ottoman palace. No country that employed that system was able to reach the level of artistry attained by the Ottomans. Ottoman music was formed and given voice in the ‘Fasil,’ itself based on unity of mode.
Fasil; Works composed within the same melodic structure (makam) , or mode, set out and played in a particular order. In a genuine fasil, there will be works for voice and for saz. The basis of the fasil is that the works should have the same melodic structure, and they are then ordered according to shape or form. There must generally be two ‘Beste’ (poetic forms) and five ‘Semai’ composed to count as a complete fasil. These are accompanied by lyrics. The compositions are in the form of ‘Murabba’ (a poem composed of quatrains) or ‘Nakis’ (a form of song). Murabbas are composed for two rhyming couplets of a ‘Gazel,’ and may be with or without ‘Terennüm,’ which are words that complement the verses that make up the formal lyric of the song, and may either have a meaning or else be just a string of syllables, for example ‘ten, tenen, tenenen, ten nen ni.’ Lines 1, 2 and 4 of the poem are tied to the same melody, with line 3 having a different melody. This latter section is known as ‘Miyan Hane,’ wherein the makam is either widened or changed. Murabbas with terennüm repeat it at the end of each line. The terennüm of the miyan hane may be different, however. In the nakis, on the other hand, two verses are read together, followed by a lengthy terennüm.
Semai with lyrics and the same structure as the murabba or nakis (but composed in the semai style) are known as ‘Agir’ and ‘Yürük’ Semai respectively. In the fasil, lyrical works such as the ‘Kar'’ or ‘Sarki’ and instrumental pieces such as ‘Taksim,’ ‘Pesrev,’ ‘Saz Semaisi’ and ‘Oyun Havasi’ may be added. In this way, the structure of a complete fasil is as follows;
a) Any introductory Taksim with saz. b) Pesrev c) The first beste or kar. d) Second beste. e) Agir semai f) Sarki (in order from major rhythmic pattern and slow character, to minor and fast) g) Yürük Semai h) Saz Semai
The ‘Kar’ gives considerable space to the terennüm component, and is a work with lyrics requiring considerable expertise. It is one of the most developed forms. The ‘Sarki’ in Turkish literature is a form that emerged under the influence of the folk song. The Sarki consists of lines of verse, its name depending on the number of verses involved. It is composed with a minor rhythmic pattern (usul) and take can take various forms. It was particularly popular after the 19th century, and left the other forms which included lyrics in the shade. It went from strength to strength in the 20th century, going beyond the previously established frontiers and eventually turning into the ‘Fantezi’ form as it grew more and more popular. Apart from a few outstanding examples, it played a major role in restricting the sphere of traditional classical music.
The following are the form of instrumental pieces employed in Ottoman music;
Pesrev: Generally composed in major rhythmic patterns, such as ‘Darb-i Fetih,’ ‘Sakil,’ ‘Muhammes’ and ‘Devr-i Kebir,’ or sometimes in minor ones, such as ‘Düyek.’ It is a saz work that emerged from the sections called ‘Hane’ and the ‘Mulazime’ section that comes between and is repeated with little change.
Saz Semaisi: Although they have the same structure as the pe?rev, the saz compositions falling in the semai (six-time), ‘aksak semai’ (10-time) and yürük semai (six-time) categories are known as ‘Saz Semaisi.’ These come at the end of the fasil, following the yürük semai.
Taksim: Intended to introduce, prepare the way or warm up for the makam, these are played with a single instrument, within the makam, yet not linked to any rhythmic pattern, and are either free-form or improvised.
Oyun Havasi: Instrumental pieces composed for dancing.
Usul: Up to 15-time these are known as ‘Küçük Usul’ (minor pattern), and after 15-time as ‘Büyük Usul’ (major pattern). When the two are employed together, this is known as ‘Darbeyn.’ There are also strings that use one usul after another. One of these consists of five usul, either 60 or 120-time, depending on which view one adopts, and this is known as ‘Zencir.’ Kücük usul in 5, 7, 9-time etc. or 10-time works such as the aksak semai, are known as ‘Aksak Usul.’ The true times that bear the name ‘aksak’ are usul in 2+2+2+3 form.
JANISSARY (MEHTER) MUSIC
In the Turkish tradition, janissary music is a sign of majesty, splendour and might, rather than a vehicle for merriment. The majestic and sacred nature of the state are reflected in the banging of the drum. The unity of the people and the greatness of the state are particularly important concepts in the Turkish view of the nation. This belief and tradition was also to be found in the pre-Islamic Turkish states, and those of the Seljuks and the Ottomans, and very little has since changed.
There are three important symbols in this framework:
The ‘Otak’ was a large pavilion or tent housing the ruler or commander in chief. It emerges as a symbol of war, since it was only erected in times of conflict.
The Ruler’s Drum (Kös) – This large drum stood in front of the ruler’s tent and belonged solely to him. The ruler’s Janissary Band (Mehter) play under the standard and before the tent in order to instil courage into the troops.
The standard and the band were two inseparable components of the Turkish state. The beat of the mehter accompanied the leaving of the tent and the first steps to war. In the Central Asian Turkish tradition, the banging of the big drum in front of the ruler’s pavilion on certain specified days in order to demonstrate his power was known as ‘beating the nevbet.’ This was regarded as a means of demonstrating the ruler’s might to friend and foe alike, and was particularly intended to strike fear into the hearts of the enemy.
The mehter was no less sacred to the Ottomans than the standard. As well as representing independence and the existence of the state, the mehter also encouraged martial feelings with uplifting airs during battles, sieges and naval engagements. It would not only raise the morale of the Turkish troops and fill them with enthusiasm for the fray, but also instill a feeling of terror and defeatism into the foe. During battles, just a single ‘kös’ formed a mehter of its own. The drum would signal the attack or the halt. The mehter was composed of drums and pipes, and would lead the army to war. The plundering of the mehter was regarded as a sign of military defeat. That meant that even the most terrible conflicts took place in the framework of the standard and the mehter. As well as being a military band during times of war, the mehter’s musical aspect came more to the fore in times of peace. When there was peace, the mehter was a sign of the ruler’s sultanate and the continued existence of the state. Drums and mehter also served the purpose of spreading news and announcements on behalf of the state. The Ottoman mehter contained wind instruments such as the zurna (similar to the oboe), the boru (bugle), the kurrenay and the mehter whistle. It also contained such percussion instruments as the kös, the drum, the nakkare (a small kettledrum), the zil (cymbals) and the çevgan. The number of instruments was kept equal, which determined the total number of instruments used. For example, the largest and most important mehter, the Sultan’s Mehter or ‘Tabl ü alem-i hassa,’ consisted of nine of each instrument. In later periods, the number of instruments could be as high as 12 or even 16. As well as the sultan’s own mehter band, the grand vizier (equivalent to the prime minister), ordinary viziers (equivalent to cabinet minister rank), the defterdar (head of the Treasury) and the reisü’l küttab (in charge of the state’s foreign relations) would also have their own, and other bands were to be foundd in various provinces and castles.
The Europeans were impressed by the influence of the mehter, and military bands modelled on them were established in a number of countries. We also know that such composers as Gluck, Mozart and Beethoven were also inspired by mehter music.
RELIGIOUS MUSIC In the framework of music, the forms of music that accompanied or assisted such Islamic obligations as circumcision, fasting and the call to prayer, and known as Mosque Music or Dervish Lodge Music depending on where it was played, can all be considered under the single heading of Religious Music. Forms such as ‘tilavet’ (reading the Kuran), the ‘ezan’ (the call to prayer), and the ‘temcid’ (a call praising Allah chanted by the muezzin immediately after the morning call to prayer during the months of Rajab, ?aban and Ramadan) all fall under the category of mosque music. During the religious dancing or ceremonies practiced by a number of religious sects, especially the dervishes (Mevlevi) and Bektasi, come under the general heading of Mystical Music.