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:
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.
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.
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.
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?