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[Auditory arts] [Auditory arts] [Classical Turkish Art Music]


THEORY AND NOTATION IN OTTOMAN MUSIC      




In the Islamic Civilisation of the Middle Ages, investigations into the theory of music began with El Kindi ( -866) and Fârâbî (870-950), and reached a climax with the works of Urmiyeli Safiyüddin ( -1294) and Meragalı Abdülkâdir.

Meragalı Abdülkâdir whose surviving books were written in Turkish, Arabic and Persian, gave invaluable information on the music of that age. He was held in esteem all over the Islamic World as a legendary composer. Today, some believe that there are also masterpieces, composed later in his era, that were ascribed to him. From El Kindi's day on, Muslim theoreticians of music made use of the "Ebced" notation, which was based on certain Arabic letters indicating certain sounds in music. This notation; which was called the Ebced, since the letters correspond to the sounds in the same order as in the Ebced alphabet, was generally used to clarify certain theoretical explanations, and so that things should not be forgotten, but not the object of preventing changes. Even though the Ebced notation was revised and presented by Ottoman musicians like Osman Dede (1650-1730), Abdülbaki Nasır Dede (1765-1821) for widespread usage, it was not used by all musicians.

Kantemiroğlu (1673-1723), was inspired by the "Ebced" notation and devised a new and unique "letter notation", which was not based on the order as in the Ebced, but on the first letters of sounds indicating these sounds. Following this, Mustafa Kevserî (-1770) wrote a book compiled from a variety of scores, making use of the "Kantemir notation".

As for Ali Ufkî (Albert Bobowsky), also known as "Santûrî Ali Bey" within the Ottoman Court - in a manuscript that he called "Mecmua-i Saz u Söz", he collected many instrumental pieces, as well as many songs including folk music and sufi music pieces, writing them in Western notation, but from right to left as in Ottoman writing. Subsequently, the notebooks written by Hamparsum Limoncuyan, using a notation that he devised himself, are regarded as one of the most important sources for Turkish music.

In the archives today, there are thousands of scores of musical works composed from ancient times to the beginning of the twentieth century.
It has been propounded that, due to the absence of an accepted convention for notation, the number of forgotten works must have been many times that of those that are known now. The lyrics in the compilations, belonging to musical pieces whose music has been forgotten, constitute the most definite evidence of this. Most of the musical pieces that have reached our age by way of their scores are ones with lyrics.

As for musical pieces without lyrics, the great majority of these are horizon and saz semais.

Classical Turkish music, enriched in the field of instruments, makams, usuls and melodies, developed greatly and with a continuing diversity; new instruments gained importance, new makams, usuls and new types of compositions emerged; and some formal changes in the old styles were observed.Starting from the middle of the seventeenth century, the music of the Ottoman age showed its main developments, having gradually moved away from its external influences and coming to form its own musical style, enriching its are with largeing new horizons