Ensemble Turkish folk and art music is a weekly course that offers a chance to work on pieces drawn from the rich and varied repertoire of Turkey’s classical and popular traditions. It is an opportunity to learn the asymmetric rhythms of Anatolia, the stylistic figures of the Turkish lutes – the saz, tanbur and oud –and the modes (makam) and improvisation which make Turkish music so expressive.
The course is aimed not only at – beginner and advanced – players of the Turkish oud and saz but also at vocal students and students of other Turkish instruments, such as the ney, kanun, bendir and violin. During the lessons, the students will prepare for an end-of-year concert.
The course focuses on the common roots of Turkish traditional music shared by both the scholarly and popular branches. ‘Classical’ Turkish music was created at the court of the Ottoman sultans and in the religious centres of the Mevlevi order of Sufism. Popular Turkish music, on the other hand, covers a broad spectrum of traditions from the various regions of Anatolia, the foremost exponents of which were the aşik troubadours, Kurds and musicians of the Bektaşi order, with the saz as their iconic instrument.
This course seeks to emphasise the mutual enrichment between the scholarly and popular Turkish music traditions – across the cultural divide – by examining the musical language they both share, which is based on the seyir (pattern, melodic development). The origin of the word seyir is related to the concept of a passage, route or journey.
Like all musical traditions of the Middle East, the different forms of Turkish music are essentially modal, with the pure melodic line taking the central position in any musical work. In scholarly music, the seyir is the direction the melody takes, which gives the makam (mode) its identity. Delving into popular music, one can discover melodic treasures such as those that characterise the work of the great classical composer and tambur virtuoso ‘Tanburi’ Cemil Bey. No less than maestro Talip Özkan refined his saz playing by studying the Ottoman tanbur.