Religious and Modern Music

     The Mevlevi are a Sufi offshoot of Islam and their ritual music is known as Mevlevi Sufi Music.  It's most prominent feature are the Whirling Dervish dancers who spin during the Mevlevi sema ceremony.  The musical suite which accompanies a sema is called an ayin.  An ayin progresses as follows:
  • Holy Koran – chanted by the Hafiz
  • Rast Naat (Na’t-I Serif) - The Naathan itrî (solo singer of naats) chants the rast naat (praise for the Islamic prophet Muhammad, written by Sufi writer Rumi)
  • Baş Taksim - The Neyzenbasi (head ney (flute) player) plays a rather long taksim (improvisation) in the makam of the ayin
  • Peşrev
  • 1st selâm (greeting) - sung by the Ayinhans (singers)
  • 2nd selam, in the usul Agir Evfer (also known as the Mevlevî Evferi)
  • 3rd selâm, in the Devr-i Kebir, Aksak Semâi and Yürük Semâi usuls.
  • 4th selâm, in the Agir Evfer usul.
  • Last (son) peşrev and last yürük semâî.
  • Last taksim (son taksim)
  • Recitation from the Qu'ran and a prayer by the Sheikh (Gulbang)

A sema is often preceded and followed by songs with lyrics from founder and poet Mevlana Jelaleddin Rumi.  The oldest ayins feature Pencgah, Hüseyni and Dügah makams. Beyati is a more recent makam in use.

Sema ceremony in Istanbul

Mosque music - Music forms which are part of the more general practice of Islam include Azan, Kur'an-ı Kerim, Mevlit, Ilahi, etc...

Vocal music forms:
Mevlevi Ayini forms (Whirling Dervish sema ritual)
Opening Sema song poem:
    Ilahî – mystic hymns from different Sufi brotherhoods in different makam
    Nefes - Bektasi hymns
    Kaside - praise songs/hymns with improvisation
    Zikr – invocation of God
Durak – improvised form
Tekbir, Temcid, Tesbih

  • Ney
  • Tanbur
  • Kemençe
  • Kanun
  • Oud
  • Bendir (frame drum)
  • Kudüm drum

Modern Music
     Şarkı(lar) are versions of the classical form developed into its own genre of modern urban art-song.  They often use poetic folk forms and rhythmic meters with makam modes.  The concept of soru and cevap (question and answer phrases between vocal and instrumental parts) in these forms are very important.

Romani Music Influence:
Fasıl Şarkı - Romani ("gypsies") spread meyhana or taverna (popular tavern songs and şarkı”) in a new fasıl style (sentimental love songs, not the classical suite form).  Primary instruments include clarinet, violin, kanun, and darbuka. 

Belly Dancing (Oryantal) / Wedding Music –  harem music with finger cymbals (zils) in karşılama rhythm (9/8) - also became very popular in the later 20th century, with Mustafa Kandirali being a very well-known clarinetist.  A popular form is roman oyun havası  – a modern karşılama folk dance created by Rom gypsies in Istanbul, popular since the 60s.  Clarinet carries the main melody, with dense percussion in 9/8 on aski-davul & darbuka (drums).  These dances are also popular at weddings.

Clarinet Improvisation and roman oyun havası:

Arabesque/Arabesk – music brought from southeast Turkey, replacing modern fasıl.  Arabesk also includes subgenres of belly dancing music (fantazi) and rock.  Scales are based on classical makams, unlike folk music's looser scale rules.  Similar to the modern fasıl şarkı, but more percussive with an unmistakably strong string orchestra section.

Other forms
 - Kanto Music - Songs between acts of plays, as solos or duets using makams but played on Western instruments, popularized after 1920.
 - Karadinez – new pop/rock arrangements of Black Sea folk songs
 - Military Music - Janissary bands or Mehter Takımı, marches

Part 1 - Melody and Rhythm
Part 2 - Classical Music
Part 3 - Folk Music