Music and People

Hey guy,

Hope you had a cool Halloween and a good week. Halloween isn’t too much of a big deal here, even finding a pumpkin was exceedingly difficult, so hopefully you had some fun for me!

About last week’s post, I was pleased to see how many of you grappled onto the idea of gender differences. It’s often a difficult subject because so many factors help play into the picture (culture, tradition, rights) and also was interesting to hear about how and why you express yourselves.

For this week, I got my idea of a topic by walking down Istiklal Avenue (the really big main street in the center, remember?) It’s really something like Broadway in NYC, you can find every kind of person from all over Turkey and the world. It is infamously known as a place where buskers (street musicians) are playing all kinds of music, mostly traditional folk music from different parts of Turkey, but also classical and international (there is a Peruvian flute group always there!) But this is important as not only is the street always filled with tourists who help to support the artists, but Turks take pride in having this open area for musicians, painters, and other artisans to show off their craft. I thought it would be a good idea to talk a little bit about music in Turkey, the different varieties, and about some of the people behind it.

Here’s a few clips from some street musicians I made:

Cello Group

Young Musicians

In the last video, the young man is holding what’s called a Black Sea “Kemence”, an instrament that looks like a fiddle, but it is held vertically while played.   kemenci                                                             .

Along with the “Tulum”  –a turkish bagpipe– these instraments are very common in traditional music of the Black Sea region. This region was historically home to many Greek, Georgians, and Armenian peoples. Though they are not as noticeable in society, their impact was left in their music.tulum

You can hear both of them here.

Another traditional instrument is the bağlama (Baa-lama), this is perhaps on the more common instruments, and can often be heard walking down a place like Istiklal Street. This guitar-looking instruments is found all over the country, and was traditionally what the traveling musician or bards would play.baglama istiklal

In the eastern part of the country, the bağlama is used in a lot of Arab and Kurdish styles of music. The Kurds are a separate ethnic group in Turkey, with their own language, culture, and history. The have often been the minority of the country and this has led to conflicts at times over the years. You can see a typical song and dance for Kurds here.

However, probably the most popular form of music is easily pop: while American and western pop music is well known and played, Turkish pop is a genre of its own. It is even exported to the Balkans in Europe and other places of the Middle East. The most well known singer is easily Tarkan.tarkan1

This guy plays sold out shows and venues all over the country and is a good example of Turkish pop. Girls go crazy when they hear him play, guys pretend not to be interested, but you know they will dance to it. Here’s a clip of his more popular videos “The Love is Gone”

I recently had a chance to go to a club where a well known female artist was playing. Her name is Ceylan Ertem, she typically plays in small venues and cafes but is quite popular in Istanbul. My friend that I was with told me “She dresses like Miley Cyrus, but trust me, she isn’t!” I found out that she typically takes older folk and “turkish oldies” and performs more modern covers for them. While this isn’t the show I went to, it’s a much better recording than what I made, her song “I Left my Heart in Aegean” here.

So now that you’ve gotten a brief look at Turkish music, some questions to think about:

1. What were your thoughts on the post?

2. What music do you enjoy listening to?

3.  Is there music from a particular place in the world that you are curious about?


57 thoughts on “Music and People”

  1. It was interesting how lots of the song names mentioned had something to do with love and the many instruments we don’t know about. I enjoy listening to any kind of music. I’m curious as to how music changes throughout the world, like the treble/bass or lyrics and what they’re about.

    1. Jonathan
      Soooo much of turkish music is based on love/heartbreak (the soap-opera biz is also HUGE here based on this also!)
      EDM is also fairly big here, many european DJ’s frequently make a stop in Istanbul

  2. my favorite thing was seeing all of the street musician and especially leaning about the new instrument, (I have played violin for 7 years) I enjoy listing pop and EDM ( electronic dance music) I am very interested in cultural music, and I have played some.
    -Clea ❤

  3. The post was cool I have heard about a few of the instruments. I listen to rap and hip hop but I am fine with any type of music. I want to learn more about music from where I am from.

  4. I liked the post and it was interesting how the Turkish pop stars are pretty similar to America. I really enjoy listening to music, but I don’t get much exposure because my parents are deaf. I’m really interested in how each country has a different style of music.

  5. I thought the post was very good, the student instruments are very different. Although some look the same as guitars, but the pop in Turkey is very similar with the same up beat hip-hop style. Although Ceylan Ertam had more off a cultural sound. I like Alternative music, and I don’t like pop. I would like to know music from France, our even Australia since I know Australia had a good music industry.

  6. My thoughts are very confused in this post, that guy at the bottom of the post sort of looks like turkeys Justin Bieber. And I still have no clue how he sells out arenas and such. I like listening too music like hip hop or rap, but I don’t listen to music that much. I am curious about the Italian music, because I was there 3 years ago and I don’t remember any music there, and I want too see if the music actually plays a part in society over there.

    1. Alex,
      He is Justin Bieber, Michael Jackson, and Elvis all kinda rolled into a turkish form I think…
      You should check out some of the music that is in Italy.. just from my guessing I would think the music in the north could be somewhat different than the south, since they have a little bit of a different culture!

  7. I thought it was very interesting on the different instruments they used, and what kind of style of music they had. I like to listen to just classical piano music, and if I’m really in the mood, maybe some melodic dubstep music.
    I really wonder about music from far far away counteries, or what they listen to.

  8. I tend to listen to pop music, not techno pop but just pop. It was interesting to see how there is a style of music unique to Turkey and that Turkey does have major pop stars. I’m curious about Indian music

    1. Haha..
      Zack, I thought the same thing when I saw some of the instruments here. Maybe it’s hardwired into humans brains to take some wood, tie some strings to it and play it somehow!

  9. I thought this post was really good because I love music, I play the guitar, ukulele, bass, and a bit of piano but I’m not very good anymore. I really like alt, pop,and classic rock music because those are the generes that I’ve grown up with and been exposed to excessively. I’m really curious about music in China because I’m taking Chinese and I’ve just always wondered about it. See you next week!

  10. I love how different parts of the world have their own music and instruments. I also liked that different places have their own style of music.
    I enjoy listening to classical music or occasionally movie soundtracks, like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. My favorite composers are Mendelssohn, Chopin and Haydn. I love how music can convey feeling and thought that words can’t really explain.
    I am curious about music in Africa and Asia. How do their musical instruments differ, and how do their styles differ, and why?

    1. Natalie
      A good question! It’s an area I myself don’t have much experience in, but I have a feeling that there are some places in Portland that one could find some of this. Keep my posted!

  11. I had lots of fun, and candy. I thought this post was really interesting. I guess I like pop music, but there a lot of songs in that genre that I don’t like. I guess I’m curious about Irish music, because I Irish dance, and I think it would be cool if I could learn more about where that music came from. I just realized that saying “Irish music” would probably make most people think of those guys singing about drinking and stuff, but that isn’t what I mean. I mean like the Irish music that people Irish step dance to.

    1. Maura
      Funny how something like “Irish music” can bring to mind different things for different people. Riverdance is probably the most well known example of what you’re talking about, but the music that is played in taverns plays a big part in more well known musical circles too…thanks for the comment

  12. I enjoyed this post, and really liked the videos of the street performers. I think it is really interesting how there are so many different types of instruments all over the world and how they are also sometimes so alike. I listen to Coldplay, The Beetles, and movie soundtracks. I want to learn about music from Rohan. Or if you mean in this world, I would like to learn more about music from India.

    1. Hannah
      Good use of LOTR reference! If you are interested in this, i’d recommend checking out music from Scotland/Ireland/and Scandanavia… much of the originial Tolkien stories were based on Gaelic/Nordic mythology and Mr Jackson did a fairly good job of incorporating this, IMHO 😉

  13. I enjoyed this entire post, mainly because it was about music, and I liked the street music videos that were shown. I like modern music, and I also enjoy listening to classical pieces. I am very interested in the music from India because it seems like it is such a big part in their culture.

    1. Breanna,
      When traveling, street music is a good way to get a sample of some of the local music. There is an non-profit organization in PDX that promotes Indian culture and sometimes does music event, I’d recommend it strongly
      Thanks for the feedback!

  14. I liked seeing the videos of the groups of people playing music on the streets. They really seem to be enjoying themselves! I’m fine with all different types of music. I really enjoy listening to other people play piano (I don’t play piano) because I just think the music they make is really beautiful. 🙂
    I want to see the differences and similarities of instruments from different cultures.

    1. Joy,
      I’m totally with you… I took piano lessons for two years as a kid, and sadly I don’t have much to show for it now. But I decided that maybe this let’s me appreciate others who have a better knack for it!
      A good way to get to know some international music is to check out some school/university schedules, they often host international events and concerts. PSU often does this especially (my bias is showing here!)

  15. I thought it was interesting that, even though Ceylan Ertem normally plays in small places, she is still very popular. I’m fine with any kind of music. My older brother plays piano (and is much better than me), and despises any music besides classical music. So I’m used to hearing lengthy classical songs drifting through the house while he practices every day. I find it interesting how different countries and cultures have their own traditional music. I wonder how different factors affected the music in places that have history going back to ancient times, like China.

    1. Caroline
      It was defenitely cool to see a respected artist playing for a smaller crowd. You get a little more of a comfy, more direct experience sometimes this way.
      That is an interesting thought you brought up though. Sometimes culture plays a big part in music evolution. My mom’s family is from the Appalachia region of the states, and historically there was a lot of irish/scottish immigrants that settled here early on. The brought with them the fiddle, the bass, and partly from this the genre of bluegrass came about. In Turkey, along the western coast, much of the music is the same as Greece, the only difference being the language really since they share part of a common history and culture! Great perspective!

  16. I found it interesting how in the US, unlike in Turkey, there are many famous singers instead of one. I enjoy listening to many types of music. I’m curious about music in languages radically different from English, such as Chinese. I wonder how people convert a song from Chinese to English or English to Chinese and have it come out still sounding like a song.

    1. Ben
      Confession time: Sometimes to help me learn a language, I have a habit of singing english songs into the direct translations (this is REALLLLLLLY hard in turkish btw!). But usually this is a challenge as there exists idioms in languages, phrases that can’t really be explained through direct tranlsation… in english, we say when we know a secret “A Little bird told me….”, when I tried to translate this to my roommate, he looked at me like I was crazy–“You talk to birds George?”
      With songs it has the extra challenge of being sometimes more abstract or poetic. I shared this video with Nathan, but I think you might enjoy it also!

  17. I have heard of some of the instruments before. I liked the part where you showed us the songs. I like to listen to pop and rap music. I am curious about music from places like India because I have heard parts of songs ad they always sound really cool.

    1. Max
      Glad you enjoyed the songs!
      My really good friend at the university here just got done with a 3 month tour of India not long ago. I get a little jealous when she tells me stories about it, always been a place I’d like to experience. Somebody told me there was like 1,500 different languages commonly spoken there? Just imagine all the different styles of music!

  18. I really enjoyed watching the videos of buskers because I live in a musical family. I’m okay with any kind of music as long as it’s not overplayed. I am interested is Sweden.

  19. I thought the difference in instruments from the US was pretty cool. I can listen to almost any kind of music but i’m really picky about music that I actually like. Although I have a weird obsession with K-pop… I am curious about different kinds of music in places like Russia and how close it is to popular music in the US

  20. I like this subject, and Tarkan is not bad to listen to. I like pop, with a fast pace. I am curious about music in Chinese music, whats popular.

    1. Nathan,
      You certainly not alone. Tarkan is not only huge in Turkey, but in other middle eastern and european countries as well.
      I’m not sure what’s in in China right now, but would be curious to find out. I remember a friend of mine recommending a video about a group of british expats who sang about their frustration with learning mandarin.
      Take a listen!

      1. i like EDM and classic rock. I was surprised to find that Turkish people liked music thats so close to pop. also in china, theres a popular song called small apple, or Xiao Ping guo. Mandarin is very hard. For some reason i want to leard music from very far north places like siberian music. i hear songs like that because my dad is a elementary school music teacher. Maybe i can learn music for Turkey!
        I like cello, and i play it as well. i also like theme songs from movies, namely John Williams music and music from Doctor who

  21. I like music and so like this post. I play the piano, so i like all music that could possibly be played on the piano, especially jazz. But I’ve always wondered what music from Australia or Tasmania. I’ve never heard a single song from that area of the world.

  22. I loved this post especially the Kurdish dance video it looks like so much fun it makes me want to join them too! The Kemence and Tulum look really strange but interesting. I listen to all kinds of music but I really like movie soundtracks and Korean pop. I have never played any musical instruments but I really like the piano and violin. Music I would like to know about is East African/Kenyan pop music I don’t know why but I have never heard of any East African pop.

  23. I thought that interesting how similar to the US, girls go crazy for the pop singers, but boys pretend not to hear them. I like listening to a lot of music, an I don’t have a favorite. I want to know more about Brazilian and Spanish music.

  24. I found it really interesting how Turkey has its own style and form of music, but it’s also really open to other styles and cultures of music. I have this really huge thing about MJ and David Bowie, but I enjoy any music really. I guess after reading this post I’d like to learn more about Turkish music.

  25. I think the different instruments are really cool. I never really thought about music in other countries except, like ancient Rome and Greece. it was interesting to see how music influenced their culture. I enjoyed looking at the Turkish bagpipe, because my grandfather makes them, so it was cool to see how they were different.

  26. I thought the names for the different instruments were very cool and I liked how I had never heard of any of them. I really like listening to classical music because it is a lot simpler than other types of music. I am curious about chinese music because I have only heard a little of it and I really liked it.

  27. 1. What were your thoughts on the post?

    2. What music do you enjoy listening to?

    3. Is there music from a particular place in the world that you are curious about?
    i thought how it was interesting how many different musical instruments there are on that one street! i play ukulele and baritone ukulele, which is basically a completely different instrument from the uke. And its hard enough to find tabs for it on the internet! i guess those guys just figure it out on their own.
    i listen to rock and Alt music. there’s this band called the mountain goats that i enjoy.
    and lastly, there isn’t really a singular place whose music i am interested in, but i find musical culture as a whole fascinating.

  28. I found it interesting how much people have a passion for their music and also how unique and cool their instruments are.I enjoy listening to underground hip-hop and rap.I would like to learn more about south american music.

  29. I liked leaning that the turks are more of a street musician kind of people instead of a be rich and famous people. I like listening to all kinds of music. I want to learn more about Asian pop.

  30. Hi again!
    First, I thought it was interesting that so many differant music cultures meet on one street. That sounds even cooler than Brodway, New York. All their instruments sound fasenating. Are all their instrumeents string, or are there other types, too?
    Second, I consiter myself pretty pickey about my music choice, so I dont really like a certain band or type, (I just find the songs I like and disregard the rest) but if I had to choose one type, I would go with ‘merican pop.
    Finally, I would like to learn about the origin of any music, because I find it interesting where cultures get their “traditional” music. It has to come from somewhere! I am especially interested in European pop. Is it the same as American?
    Also, What’s your favorite type of music, and what’s your favorite instriment?
    Can’t wait for your next post!

  31. I loved this post mainly because it was on music. I love all kinds of music. The thing I probably do the most is listen to music, I’m 100% sure my friends find it extremely annoying.
    I find cultural music in general very interesting because its a very unique form of expression as far as music goes. I am particularly curious about music from Germany, France, and pretty much anywhere in Europe. I’ve been to France and the street performers were talented people with their own unique spin on music.

    1. Stuti
      Music is something great because even though many people may listen to the same song, they each can take away something different from it. Some of the most talented musicians I know have a love of classical/traditional music, and I think that’s because if you know the basics of a culture’s music, you can mold, mix, and compliment it in so many ways!

  32. I liked the variety of music you posted on here. But if you ask me, that guy seems more like Adam Levine . . . . . .
    I’ll listen to anything. Mostly rap, but it depends mostly on my mood. I’m usually quite cranky, so rap suits me fine. I play mostly classical, though.
    Not in a particular place. Maybe Asia in general. Our Mandarin teacher has let us listen to some . . . . Interesting songs. But Vietnam has some very whimsical traditional music that I’d love to look into more.
    By the way, I love that ‘Dui Bu Qi’ video. :3

  33. ding-a-ling-a-ling! I think this article really “sounds” nice. so much music
    those are cool musical instruments, i want to know how they sound
    like it 😉

  34. I really enjoyed watching the Tulum video.The music I really enjoy is mostly 80’s Rock. So pretty much Scorpions, Queen, ZZ top, AC/DC, and stuff like that.I’m really interested in music from France. Not waltzes or that stuff, but the modern stuff.

  35. I enjoyed the pictures of the different instruments. I like listening to Maroon 5. I’m interested in music from Africa. I want to learn about their traditional music.

  36. I love learning about different types of music always, finding out about new music, and play and listen to guitar music a lot. I want to learn more about blues and rock music.

  37. I really like listening to music because I feel like that kind of defines a person (the kind of music). As I was reading this post, I was thinking that I really enjoy that there are different instruments and music styles around the world. I listen to hip-hop and some rap music.

  38. I enjoyed the post a lot I don’t do much music but I enjoy listening. (This post and others are late due to technical difficulties sometimes when I try to post wordpress brings up an error message or says “Message awaiting approval” I don’t know if there is anything you can do about it.. I enjoy listening to James Blunt and the Beatles.I’m kind of interested about Indian music as I hear it is very different to our pop culture.

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