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An unprecedented reference book that enlightens History of Turkish Music


Each detail of the Turkish mode music is scrutinized in a two-volume book, Neşriyât-ı Mûsıkî: Osmanlı Müziğini Okumak, written by the composer slash academician Gönül Paçacı Tunçay. In doing so, Tunçay refers to the life stories of Tambour Player Cemil Bey, Oud Players İsmail Sami Bey, and Mehmed Fahri Bey. The authoress makes a good use of Anatolian folk songs, canto and hymns, mehter company tunes in addition to foreign records, magazines and theories.


Published by VakıfBank Kültür Yayınları (VBKY), the most precious reference book discusses the transformation process of the Ottoman music based on releases and publications, and evaluates every single detail elaborately.


Tunçay expresses that Turkish music has an eligible structure for listening, memorizing by listening, performing the memorized knowledge long with saz performance and vocals. She continues as follows: “… The Ottoman music has this structure, which has been transmitted verbally for years, passed from memory to memory, and relied on relishes and modes at intervals of natural frequency; and it is well-developed and complete in it. The fact that its theory has only been discussed by very few numbers of sources by a few musicians could be evaluated as a result of its unique structure.”


Lyrics journals as the first step


Having relied on and made a good use of sources, historical records /archives for her book, Tunçay underlines that lyrics journals are the very first step through which we could be aware of presence of the works, learn about the mode and procedure. The most extensive and printed lyrics journal known to date is Hânende, the oldest lyrics journal is Mecmua-i Şarkı, which was published in 1852: “Printed musical materials emerged not until the mid 19th century as they were recognized as a further stage of making tunes into written form and spreading them.”


Getting to know the Western world's tunes


As Tunçay indicates, Mahmud II, the 30th Sultan of the Ottomans, abolished the mehter company, giving support to establishment of a Western-like band. He called music teachers from Italy, works performed at the time greatly influenced the traditional music. Tunçay reflects as follows: “Western stave's penetration through the Ottoman was a central preference by the channel of the army, so a process began wherein conceptive and structural differences of the two tried to exist reciprocally or co-exist -in a rather moderate expression.”. She continues as highlighting as follows: “Although relatively thicker, denser and prevalent side of the Turkish music was being performed, it could be said that times before sound recording -that's, before the end of the late 19th century- marks a relatively ambiguous know-how.”. Tunçay further highlights that we need to consider at all times the possibility of transformation and anonymization of works because our music relies on memory and one-t-ne transmission by way of practice.


Neşriyât-ı Mûsıkî: Osmanlı Müziğini Okumak, a two-volume work by Gönül Paçacı Tunçay, is an unmatched book that shed light on our history of music. The book gives details about the phrases of the Ottoman music, along with then-existing publications, before and after that, and pays particular attention to ach detail.