Classical Music

Turkish Classical music is sometimes divided into 2 categories:
  • Klaşık Turk Muzigi (Classical Turkish Music)– "court music" from 1299-1922 (Ottoman Empire)
  • Turk Sanat Muzigi (Turkish Art Music) - music after 1922 (intersecting with post-50s Modern Music)

     Ottoman court music is heterophonic.  A chamber instrumental ensemble with vocalist(s) performs suites called fasıl, typically 4 instrumental and 2-3 vocal forms.  All of the movements in a particular fasıl are in the same makam (mode).  A fasıl's vocal selections sometimes begin with slower works and end with faster, more well-known songs (şarkı).

Basic Fasıl movements:

Peṣrev - an instrumental prelude with a major usul stretching over many measures.  It is structured as 4 hane (movements) each followed by a teslim (refrain).  The first and last hane (as well as the teslim) use the named makam, but the other hanes can modulate to other makamlar.  There is a semi-cadence pause (yarım karar) at the end of each hane. 

Taksim (instrumental improvisation) - 1st few measures stay on lower ajna of the makam (1st tetrachord), and afterwards move around (development and resolution), then modulating to other makamlar (meyan), and ending with the original makam.

Oyun havası - instr. dance tune, sometimes with elements of belly dance motifs, usually minor usula

Vocal fasıl forms:
  • Kâr –long, rich melodic/rhythmic material, has different changing usula, usually beginning with a terennüm (motif), follows peṣrev
  • Beste –comes after Kâr, four hanes, each with one line of poetry and a terennüm
  • Agir Semai ("slow, heavy") - follows Beste, minor usul
  • Gazel - vocal composition/improvisation in free rhythm with rhythmic accompaniment with set lyrics (vocal taksim). 
  • Şarkı - light classical song, four hanes, no terenüm, in a minor usul
  • Yürük Semai (“fleet, active”) - follows şarkı, more lively and upbeat than Agir semai, precedes saz semai
  • Türk aksağı
Saz semaisi - slower instrumental postlude, uses minor usul Aksak Semai.  It is structured as 4 hane (movements) each followed by a teslim (refrain).  The first 3 hane (as well as the teslim) are in 10/8.  The 4th hane is in 6/4. Melody/usula may also be free.

Other classical forms:
Longa – instrumental form, fast dance style in 2/4 or 6/8 and can end a suite
Medhal - Short instrumental pieces performed by the entire ensemble, and generally before the beginning of the program and makam
Aranagme – instrumental “entrance music” (giris müzigi)

Some Classical Ottoman Composers:
  • Haci Arif Bey
  • Sufi Dede Efendi,
  • Prince Cantemir,
  • Baba Hamparsum,
  • Kemani Tatyos Efendi,
  • Sultan Selim III and
  • Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent

Typical Instruments:
  • Tanbur (lute)
  • Ney (flute)
  • Klasık Kemençe (spike violin)
  • Oud (lute)
  • Kanun (zither)
  • Violin
  • Kudüm (drum)

Huseyni Peṣrev:



Part 1 - Melody and Rhythm
Part 3 - Folk Music
Part 4 - Religious and Modern Music