It was probably from the distinguished ney performer Niyazi Sayın that our generation first heard the phrase İstanbul musikisi (music of Istanbul). He, I assume, learned it from Mesut Cemil, to whom he referred as “father.” Mesut Cemil, in his book about his own father, Tanburi Cemil (d. 1916), quoted extensively from a letter, dated 6 June 1947, from one Mahmud Demirhan, the son of Major General Mustafa Pasha of Yanya (Ionnina), who was an admirer and also a protector of Tanburi Cemil. In his letter, Mahmud Demirhan says:

I believe ours is neither Turkish music, nor Oriental music, nor yet Ottoman music, whose scope encompasses the dergah [dervish lodge], Enderun [the Palace], and the tavern. Ours, in my view, is nothing if not Istanbul music; it is a music that draws its roots, its elements, and its melodies from the Eden that is Istanbul—from the matchless light cast by the sun breaking over the city at dawn and the moon gazing down upon it at night, and from the divine manifestations of love and grace that fill its every corner—and binds us in rapture under its celestial spell. And the creator of this [music] is the great Tanburi Cemil.1

It may have been Demirhan’s adoration of his old friend Tanburi Cemil that led him to write these words, reminiscent of similar lines penned by the great poet Yahya Kemal out of his love for Istanbul and Cemil. Or it may have been the city itself, the Istanbul of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, that inspired such romantic approaches to music. Demirhan continues: “Istanbul music can only be Tanburi Cemil.” What led Demirhan to state this so pointedly?

Tanburi Cemil Bey was a musician who adopted the style of Selim III’s period (r. 1789–1807) and who longed for that period. He was also very much involved in the popular music of the Istanbul public, as indicated by the songs he played on the zurna (shrill pipe), which he was inspired to learn by Zurnacı Arap Mehmed, and the kalamatianós he joined in, together with musicians from the Aegean islands, as a lavta (a kind of lute) player in the taverns of Apokries.

The historical stage of the Ottoman style, as defined by Bülent Aksoy in the context of “core culture–peripheral culture,”2 was Istanbul. Tanburi Cemil absorbed the music of Istanbul and—through his musical genius, superb skill, and extraordinary diligence— constantly transformed what he had absorbed into a new form on his tanbur, kemençe, lavta, and violoncello. As he performed, he imbued the music with new life. The phrase fem-i muhsin (mouth with a harmonious and correct style) is used for singers who are able to chant perfectly and properly. As far as I know, there is no such usage for the instrumentalists. But if there were, it would be apt in the case of Cemil Bey, an Istanbul musician who transformed music as he transmitted it—truly, a creative performer.3 With the numerous recordings of his performances4 and his background in the musical styles of peripheral cultures in the city, Cemil Bey stands out as an historic archetype: the musician who introduced today’s audiences to the Ottoman musical style of the Selim III era.

The Musicians

Those who create music and its style are musicians; they are in a reciprocal relationship with society, which is affected by musicians’ productions but also has a say in the shape they take. Ottoman musicians came in all forms, from the sultan and şeyhülislam to the müderris (professor), qadi (judge), poet, dede, and dervish. Musicians served as religious functionaries in mosques, churches, and synagogues. They performed as street musicians and bards. They lived as concubines in the harem and as housewives. Regardless of their social status, what brings all these together in the world of sounds is their identity as musicians. This identity creates a social and historical bond that is at once synchronic and diachronic. In the musical field, it is musicians who are the subject behind cultural memory.

Eastern music, unlike Western European music, does not have a polyphonic structure. Ottoman music instead operates on the basis of musical modes called makam, in which the music proceeds along a horizontal axis and progresses in a particular way (seyir), which governs the juxtaposition of sounds and the arrangement of musical intervals. Ottoman musical culture considered the makam to be the basis of melody (ezgi), and all its music was produced on that basis. This technical system governing the internal structure of music left no room for differences of race, nation, or religion. But of course people’s preferences did play a role in the way they expressed themselves through music, and it was the dynamics created by these diverse preferences that shaped Ottoman music in Istanbul. When Mehmed II first incorporated Istanbul into the Ottoman realm, he also laid the foundations for the social diversity that would enable a multi-faith and multilingual cultural structure to flourish. This situation of being multilingual and multi-faith has played a significant role in creating a shared culture in Istanbul. Religion and language are segregative by nature; sound is not. If anything, sound, as the main component of music, brings people together by allowing people who do not understand one another’s language to communicate.

Greeks were the locals of Istanbul; Turks started to settle there in 1453. Mehmed II made the elite and rich families of Anatolia settle in Istanbul, regardless of their religions, languages, races, or ethnicities. Armenians from various parts of Anatolia were among the settlers. In the Byzantine period, Jewish people were living on both sides of the Golden Horn, and Mehmed II brought more to the city from Anatolia. The main increase in the city’s Jewish population occurred under Bayezid II (r. 1481–1512), when Sephardic Jews moved to Istanbul after their expulsion from Spain in 1492. There had also been gypsies living in Byzantine Istanbul, but it was likely only after Mehmed II that they came to the city in large numbers. Those coming to Istanbul would bring their local cultures with them; as a result, in addition to Greek, such languages as Turkish, Armenian, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), and Spanish started to be spoken. Each group settled in different neighborhoods and created different communities.5 The Greek Patriarchate was already in Istanbul; in addition to that, the Armenian Church and Jewish synagogues became central organizations in the city, as did the Muslim mosques. Istanbul thus became the center of three major religions. The traditions of Greek, Armenian, and Jewish religious rituals started to be directed from this city. Both music and religious ritual stress the importance of the word (kelam). But religious rituals often rely on it exclusively, fearing that musical modes of expression may sway believers and cause the divine word to lose its significance and meaning. This was important, especially for the non-Muslim peoples of the Ottoman state who performed religious rituals in their own language. For Muslims, the situation was somewhat different. They generally used Arabic in their prayers, Turkish in their music (mawlids and hymns), and Persian in their Mawlawi rituals. The groups that constituted the Istanbul public, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities as Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, or Gypsies, had their own music, which they performed in their daily lives, evening conversations, and weddings. These communities likely also performed music in their own languages and own local styles in their private gatherings. At the famous parade in front of the Alay Pavilion, Evliya Çelebi writes that Greek fishermen passed by chanting verse in Greek and that Armenians were singing in Armenian.6

The musicians from all these communities created yet another “society” in Istanbul, one beyond the boundaries of the city’s ethnic and religious communities. In all eras, musicians have formed a unique locus of cultural memory. They cannot be observed as a physical community in a particular place; however, their occupation and the music they perform create a distinct culture beyond religion or language. In the relationships between musicians, the characteristics imposed by religious rituals lose their hold. Bülent Aksoy argues that “when they wanted to test and manifest their abilities at a higher level, they turned to the Ottoman music of the literate or educated environment.” With such statements, Aksoy suggests that these musicians “created a tradition that combined the musical tastes of all Ottomans at a high level.”7 The language that Greek, Armenian, or Jewish composers used in their nonreligious works was Turkish, just like all other Ottoman composers; in this way, they were able to enter a higher cultural arena through their music.

1a- The marble relief on the base of the column of Theodosius in Hippodrome: 390 CE

1b- A closer look at the picture 1a.

From the Byzantines to the Ottomans

Today’s Sultanahmet Square—Constantinople’s Hippodrome—served as a public space where the ruler met the public in both the Byzantine and Ottoman eras. There, people met their rulers, differentiated from them, and found the opportunity to express themselves. The Hippodrome, called the Atmeydanı by the Ottomans, served as a place where the sultan would appear before the public and the public could see the sultan; thus, for a while, it played a role similar to the one it had in the Byzantine era. A comparison of depictions of three festivals held there over the centuries provides important indications of the changes that the city went through in the field of music based on an observation of musical instruments. The first two festivals were held seven hundred years apart, with five hundred years between the second and third, all spanning a period of twelve hundred years.

2- The wall painting found in Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Kiev: 11<sup>th</sup> century

3- The circumcision festivities of Şehzade Mehmed: 1582

A devout Christian, Theodosius I (r. 379–395) arrived in Constantinople from Spain and became the emperor of Byzantium. He issued laws that forbade people from performing pagan rituals; however, he did not abstain from bringing an obelisk from Karnak to remind the people of the permanent victory over the religion of ancient Egypt. He had this obelisk erected in the middle of the Hippodrome in 390. That the obelisk has remained standing ever since, despite the many earthquakes the city has experienced, is a testament to this feat of engineering and logistical skill. This is reflected in the marble relief at the base of the obelisk, which depicts the story of how it was transported and erected and bears inscriptions in Greek and Latin. On the southeastern side of the base is another marble relief, barely discernible, of girls dancing and people playing musical instruments, immediately under a separate relief of the emperor sitting in a loggia surrounded by his court. This depiction allows us to observe the characteristics of the instruments in the ancient world and the musical culture of ancient Greece: the aulos (double-pipe), the pan flute (syrinx polykalamós, known as a miskal by the Ottomans), girls holding hands and dancing, and two organs (hydraulis) are depicted on each side of the relief (figs. 1a-b). According to organology, the hydraulis was invented by a hydraulic engineer Ctesibius of Alexandria (285–222 BC) by combining a range of pan flutes. Muslim authors also mention this hydraulis in their books.

In the Olympic Games in the early centuries of Byzantium, high-ranking government officials still awarded medals in the name of Zeus. The content of the entertainment in the Hippodrome seems to have gradually changed over time. Justinian I (r. AD 527–565) believed that it was necessary to entertain people with a variety of performances, and by the twelfth century, horse races and circus acts were performed there, and acrobats, dancers, poets, and musicians participated in the festivals. The fresco on the wall of the stairs in the eastern tower of Saint Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, built in the eleventh century, depicts clowns, acrobats, a dancer, and musicians in a festival held in the Constantinople Hippodrome. It includes a variety of musical instruments, including an organ, pan flute, pandura,8 harp (psaltêrion, similar to the Ottoman çeng,9 but with a pillar; thus, a frame harp), two wind instruments resembling a zurna, a percussion instrument, and what is perhaps a bow instrument (fig. 2). There are visual materials indicating that side-blown flutes were used in the ancient world: the side-blown flute was first seen in Tutub (Khafajah), a Sumerian city to the northeast of Baghdad in 3000 BC.10

This part of the city continued to be used for similar functions over the centuries. In 1582, a feast that Murad III (r. 1574–1595) held in the Atmeydanı to celebrate the circumcision of his son Mehmed (Mehmed III) lasted approximately fifty-five days and fifty-five nights; scenes that are similar to the festival held five hundred years before can be observed. In these feasts, even though there were instruments similar to those in the eleventh century, the çeng here was not a frame harp, while instruments like the kamış (reed) ney, the şahrud, and kopuz11 were new to Istanbul (fig. 3). If we assume that the performance style was different from before, we can say that a new sound had appeared in Istanbul. New as it was for this city, Ottoman culture had inherited these instruments and this sound, and used them in the former capitals of Edirne and Bursa as well as other cities in Anatolia.

It seems that music in Istanbul experienced a wholesale transformation over the course of twelve hundred years. In fact, it was not only Istanbul, but the entire world that underwent this change. If a line is drawn from north to south through Istanbul, the countries located to the east and west of this line brought different approaches to the region’s culture of ancient Greek music. The center of the gentle transitions that occurred, in the Ottoman Balkans, was Istanbul. The cultural diversity that divided the Roman Empire in two, into East and West, can also be observed on this axis. Istanbul represents the East. It is safe to assume that no similar historical development with such political and cultural consequences has occurred in any other city in the world. Vienna, Rome, and Florence, for instance, never experienced such a division. The cultural centers of Baghdad, Samarkand, Khorasan, and Shiraz also never served as the location of such a division, which was one that would determine the cultural future of the entire world. The decision to undertake this division was realized within the Christian world; however, throughout the region, it is possible to discover the different cultural riches and traditions that separate the two worlds. A thousand years after Constantinople became the center of the Orthodox faith, the locals in the city were able to live side by side with the Muslims who were settling there without major problems. This was made possible by the rise of a common culture. Would it be an exaggeration to look for the foundations of the common values of these people not so much in art or literature, but in music?

Works on science and philosophy from the Ancient Greek period were translated into Arabic during the reign of the Abbasids, beginning from the ninth century; this was carried out by scholars like al-Kindi (d. 873?), al-Farabi (d. 950), and Ibn Sina (Avicenna, d. 1037). These were then translated from Arabic into Turkish in the sixteenth century.12 In the preface of the Turkish translation to Kitabu’l-Edvar by Safiyuddin Abdulmumin, Ahmedoğlu Şükrullah states:

The one who first systematized this science was the divine philosopher Pythagoras; he said to his students, “I hear some of those melodies and tunes from the celestial spheres, and based on these, I chant.” He was the first one to categorize this science, and then the philosopher Plato, and after him, the philosopher Aristotle, and after him, the philosopher Ptolemy.13

The systematics of theorizing music in Ancient Greece and classifying it as a physical science was reflected in Ottoman culture in such terms as fenn-i musiki (the discipline of music), ilm-i musiki (science of music), and ilmu’l-edvar (science of musical theory). The authors of edvar14 embraced Pythagorean discourse, arguing that music emerged from the sounds of the universe.15 This discourse continued in the form of intertextuality in the introductions to books written by Ottoman music theorists. In a chapter entitled ilmu’l-musiki from his work in the sixteenth century, Taşköprizade (d. 1561) mentions that there is a relationship between melody and the movement of the universe, but arguing that the movement of the universe is related only to the spiritual aspect of music; in truth, he continued, there is no air in the universe, so it is impossible for sound to exist.16

It is obvious that musical theory—that is, the technical side of music, the classification of sounds, the distance between pitches, etc.—varied and changed over the course of time in ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, and Greece, and then in Byzantium and the Arabic and Persian cultural spheres, and, finally, among the Ottomans. This is the case in terms of theory; this has already reached us in the form of musical knowledge contained in written texts. However, songs were not performed in exactly the same style or expressed in the same way in every region of this expansive area. Music is a cultural field, and can exist only when it is played; the human aspect of this “science” can only be manifested in a performance. And that is exactly what music is.

Istanbul was the location of a unique meeting between, on the one hand, the Greek Orthodox population, who used the musical theory and sounds of the ancients in a number of singing techniques, bringing them up to the sixteenth century, and, on the other hand, the Ottoman Turks, Sunni Muslims who later came to the city and settled there. These two communities had lived together in Anatolia before they lived together in Istanbul, and the various relations between them created a genuine cultural sphere that was not at all unusual for Anatolia, forming a common memory. Different musical experiences on the eastern side of Anatolia, in Anatolia, and in Istanbul survived in the secluded environment of the Greek Orthodox Church, in the rituals of the Muslim spiritual orders, and, perhaps above all, among the townspeople of Istanbul. Each nourished certain traditions, but also brought new sounds and new approaches to them. Even the Ottoman court adopted works that were created by this unique interaction, supporting them and using them. Moreover, the evolving aesthetic criteria of the Ottoman elite created a cultural climate that enabled the emergence and manifestation of a musical understanding that differed from the approach in other Islamic countries.

To this new capital, the Turks brought with them their own musical understanding and instruments. However, the newest element that was added to the music in Istanbul was the language paradigm. The music that arrived in Istanbul with the Turks also brought the musical tradition of a Persian-speaking culture. A case in point is Abdülkadir Meragi (d. 1435), who wrote in Persian, but was adopted within the Ottoman musical tradition as an "ancestor" of the Ottoman masters. He had first had been part of the Jalayirid court, and then, parallel to political changes, joined the court of Timur and his sons, living in the cities of Baghdad, Samarkand, Tabriz, and Herat. For the Ottoman musician, and also the Ottoman poet, the superiority of Persian was problematic. Based on a conversation between Selim I and Hayali Çelebi, a sixteenth-century author, Aşık Çelebi relates that the sultan had brought many skillful craftsmen from Iran to Anatolia to help raise the skill level of Anatolia up above that of Persia. Aşık Çelebi writes that the sultan complained, saying, “According to what I have heard, people still go to the Persian masters. They shy away from going to the Anatolian masters.” In response, he was told, “Istanbul is equal to Tabriz, thanks to you.” Aşık Çelebi writes that the sultan was then told how the various artists and artisans in Istanbul were superior to the Persians. In the case of the musicians, he was told, “Their [the Greek, Anatolian, and Ottoman] instrument players took away the gum of bragging from the mouth of their [the Persian] kemançe players. They have kindled the ashes in the hearts of their oud players, creating a wound of longing instead by planting fireweeds there.”17

4- Possibly dervishes who ate in one of the rooms of Galata Mawlawi lodge,
        listened to music, and had a chat. It is one of the paintings that Cornelis
        Calkoen, the ambassador of the Netherlands, had Jean-Babtiste Vanmour paint.
        (Rijksmuseum, SK-A-1999) According to a document in French, the person with
        a white turban sitting on the couch is Qutb al-Nayi Osman Dede, the master of
        Galata Mawlawi Lodge (see. Nicholas et alia: 116, 228)

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Nâyî (ney player) Osman Dede (d. 1725) included Abdülkadir Meragi in his book Rabt-ı Ta‘birât-ı Mûsıkî.18 Anthologies of lyrics—containing, as they do, the actual musical works that existed at the time of writing—give more information about the practice of music than do books of theory. The earliest such anthology, by Hafız Post (d. 1694), includes the lyrics of almost forty works that are attributed to Abdülkadir Meragi.19

Meclis (Gatherings)

5- A rite in Galata Mawlawi Lodge (Vanmour)

6a- A council of Sultan Süleyman I, November 1539. Probably in the Has Oda (privy chamber) located in the third yard of Topkapı Palace. The circumcision festivities of Sultan Süleyman I’s sons, şehzade Bayezid and şehzade Cihangir, were in the At Meydanı (Hippodrome). Sultan Süleyman I’s daughter Mihrimah and Rüstem Paşa got married in the same ceremony. Musicians: Two reed players (neyzen), an oud player, a panpipe (mıskal) player, a kemançe player, and singers with tambourines. The black singer in the middle is most probably a gipsy from Egypt. (Seyyid Lokman, <em>Süleymanname, Topkapı Palace Museum Library</em>, H. 1517, fol. 412a)

6b- A closer look at the picture 6a

Where can we find the music of Ottoman Istanbul other than in books? Mosques, churches, synagogues, and dervish lodges were places where music was performed.20 This was especially true in the case of the Mevlevihanes, each of which served both as a cultural center and, with respect to music, as a school (fig. 4). Music in the Mawlawi Order acquired symbolic meanings through instruments and embodied the images of the human soul. In addition to composing Mawlawi rituals, many Mawlawi musicians composed kârs, bestes, nakışes, and semais21 without Sufi themes, which the upper class Ottomans enjoyed listening to (fig. 5). The famous Dede Efendi (d. 1846) is an example of these Mawlawi composers. In addition, by playing the ney at weddings, in coffee houses, and at “concerts,” the Mawlawi ney performers took part in a great range of the music that was performed in Istanbul. Likewise, many authors record that the içoğlans (pages) in the sultan’s palace were taught music at the Enderun and that musicians from outside the palace served there as tutors.22 As mentioned above, like the singers in the churches, the Mawlawi dedes who played music were, alongside their religious commitments, also musicians and were interested in music as an art.

The gatherings (mecâlis) that took place in Ottoman palaces, mansions, and ordinary houses were important occasions during which music could be performed away from the religious arena; the location and time of these mecâlis varied. These gatherings, known as bezm-i işret (assembly of libation) or meclis-i melahi (assembly of amusement), involved conversation, poetry, alcohol, dancing, and musical performances; these components were always prominent parts of such meclis gatherings. Music was a functional necessity of the gathering. The mecâlis were social structures in which members of the Ottoman elite and their friends could come together and have conversations, drink, read poetry, perform music, and be entertained; Evliya Çelebi mentions these mecâlis, comparing them to the "Hüseyin Baykara meclisleri.” The favorite gatherings were probably those of the sultan (figs. 6a-b). The women in the harem also held entertainment gatherings accompanied by music. The gatherings of pashas and zurefas (polite society) were also places in which high-class Ottomans came together. Apart from Ottoman elites, ordinary people also came together in Istanbul, each group performing music and singing however they liked, enjoying themselves, and drinking alcohol. These gatherings were held in various cities of Anatolia, and were locally known as yaran meclisi, sıra gecesi, or gezek. Local poets and musicians participated in the meclis of the ulema who served as government officials—as qadis, for example—in various cities in Anatolia and Rumelia, and also in the gatherings held by the princes appointed as governors in cities like Amasya, Kütahya, and Manisa.

The following matla (first verse of a poem) by Zekayi, who lived at the beginning of the sixteenth century, clearly expresses the close relationship between the meclis, music, and alcohol as follows:23

Neylerüm ol bezmi k’anun sâkî-i meh-rûsı yok
Yâ şu meclisden n‘olur kim mutrib-i hoş-gûsı yok
[For me, what is the use of a gathering if it has no moon-faced cupbearer?
What good is a gathering if it has no musical ensemble performing well?]

Aşık Çelebi, the author of Meşairü’ş-Şuara, wrote that the house of the poet Tacizade Cafer Çelebi (d. 1515) had always been a safe haven for his friends and for rinds (epicureans), and that he held social gatherings with his intellectual friends every night. The singers and instrument players in these mecâlis reportedly played so magnificently that even the nightingales would envy them. The people attending the gatherings would be offered goblets full of alcoholic drinks.24 The interaction between the works performed at the meclis of the Ottoman elites and the ehl-i meclis (participants) determined the criteria of the music. From the beginning, music was indispensable to meclis gatherings. Through them, together with the attractive force of literature, music was constantly renewed as more refined musical works (musanna) were composed and performed. While the musical taste of the participants enabled music to be gradually refined, the reduction of the distances between frets ensured that the listeners evolved so as to discern such nuanced tones. This created the collective memory of a privileged elite society. The meclis of polite society determined Ottoman musical taste. The distinguished people at the meclis gained musical knowledge and taste, and would have immediately been able to discern and appreciate a melody or tone that had never been heard before in the work of a composer; they could recognize improvisation and a change in the performance of a makam. Demetrius Cantemir (known as Kantemiroğlu in Turkish, d. 1723) states:

I may certainly venture to say, that Turkish Musick for metre and proportion of words, is more perfect than any European, but withal so hard to be understood, that in the specious City of Constantinople, where resides the greatest Court in the World, among so many Musicians and Lovers of Musick, you will scarce find above three or four, who thoroughly understand the grounds of this Art.25

Kantemiroğlu mentions a number of musicians. There were Osman Efendi (Koca Osman Efendi of Kasımpaşa) and his students Hafız Kömür, Buhurcuoğlu (Buhurizade Itri), Memiş Agha, Küçük Müezzin (Mehmed Çelebi), and Tespihçi Emir. There were also Kemani Ahmed and Orthodox Angeli, two Greek converts to Islam who had taught Kantemiroğlu, and a Jewish instrumentalist known as Çelebiko. Among the Turks, there were Dervish Osman (Nâyî Osman Dede), Kurşuncuoğlu, Taşçıoğlu (Taşçızade Recep), Sinek Mehmed, and Bardakçı Mehmed Çelebi. There were also Kamboso Mehmed Agha, a Greek noble from Istanbul Ralaki Eupragiote, Hazinedarbaşı (chief treasurer) Davul İsmail Efendi, and Hazinedar (treasurer) Latif Çelebi. It is evident that these musicians—some of whom were Kantemiroğlu’s teachers, some his students, and some his acquaintances—were among the few people who possessed musical knowledge. These musicians, including elite members of society, must have defined the social environment to which Kantemiroğlu belonged as well. Kantemiroğlu, the prince of Moldavia, was kept as “a guest” in Istanbul to guarantee that his father, the voivode of Moldavia, would not rebel against the Ottoman state. The Istanbul elite participated in Kantemioğlu’s meclis. When the existence of such “intellectual” environments in a large city like Istanbul is taken into consideration, it can be observed that music—which was passed from human to human and from generation to generation by oral traditions or meşk26 rather than in written form—was also transformed into different styles. Likewise, the Hafız Post Mecmua (Anthology) in the seventeenth century includes evidence that the lyrics of contemporary composers from Istanbul formed a particular musical environment.27 In the period of Selim III, the ney and girift28 player Musahib Said Efendi participated in the gatherings of many members of the Ottoman elite, ranging from a Mawlawi sheikh to a state chamberlain, including:

… the gatherings held by the Beşiktaş Mevlevihane sheikh al-Hajj Yusuf Dede Efendi, the Yenikapı Mevlevihane sheikh Abdülbaki Dede Efendi, the Kasımpaşa Mevlevihane sheikh Şemsüddin Dede Efendi, Keresticizade Nuri Dede Efendi, the well-known Veli Efendizade Emin Molla, and Şemsüddin Molla, all among the great sheikhs and members of the ulema; [and those held by] the kethüda (steward) Ibrahim Nesim Efendi, the sır katib [first secretary] Ahmed Faiz Efendi, Halil Paşazade, the mabeynci [chamberlain] Ahmed Muhtar Bey Efendi, the reisu’l-etibba [chief physician] Behçet Efendi, the nakibü’l-eşraf [chief descendant of Prophet Muhammad] Sıddık Molla Efendi, the eimme-i kiram [noble authority] Tatar Hafız Ahmed Kamil Efendi, Cennet Filizi Abdülkerim Efendi, Dürrizade Abdullah Molla Efendi, Keçecizade İzzet Molla Efendi, the şehremini [mayor] Hayrullah Efendi, the well-known Halet Efendi, and the distinguished wise men Numan Amuca and Hatif Efendi.29

7- Possibly the first coffeehouse opened in Tahtakale, as described by Peçuyi Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, MS413, f. 9.

In the middle of the sixteenth century, a coffeehouse was opened for the first time in Istanbul. Coffeehouses were places where the Muslim men of Istanbul could meet outside their homes, mosques, and workplaces.30 The historian Peçuyi (d. 1649?) writes that the first coffeehouses in Istanbul were opened in Tahtakale in 1554. Peçuyi states: "Some companions and friends, addicted to pleasure, [and] many distinguished people—educated ones in particular—have begun to come together. Meclis are held in twenty or thirty different places. Some read books, books of ghazels; others engage in backgammon or chess; some talk about learning and recite newly composed ghazels." Peçuyi thus depicts the newly opened coffeehouses as vivid spaces for interaction that had become of an important part of Istanbul’s social life. Everyone from the unemployed to candidate officers, qadis, müderrises, high-ranking officials, imams, muezzins, and even ersatz Sufis could participate in the joy of being part of a community by paying a small amount of money for coffee.31 Beginning from the middle of the sixteenth century, coffeehouses also served as locales for Istanbul music; this trend continued until the nineteenth century, when the coffeehouses became known as tulumbacı kahveleri (fire-brigade coffeehouses), çalgılı kahveler (music coffeehouses), or semai kahveler (poetry coffeehouses).32 A depiction of a coffeehouse from an album dated 1610 depicts exactly what Peçuyi was describing. The anonymous artist shows a “crowd,” a community mostly consisting of city boys (şehir oğlanları), some old, some young, some bearded, some clean-shaven, some playing backgammon and mangala, some reading, all dressed in a variety of manners, and all drinking coffee. Musicians, sitting on the left-hand side of the picture, give us more information than Peçuyi: there is a ney, a kemençe, an oud or a kopuz (the performer is facing away and only the neck of the instrument is visible), and a singer with a tambourine in his hand (fig. 7). Coffeehouses were sometimes closed down, later to be reopened; until the final years of the Ottoman period, the coffeehouses of Istanbul were places that fulfilled the function of entertainment.

8a- A musician with leopard hide in the parade of Sultan Ahmed III’s sons circumcision festivities in 1720 (a miniature of Nakkaş İbrahim in <em>Surname-i Vehbi</em>. Topkapı Palace Museum Library, A. 3594, fol. 161a)

8b- A closer look at the picture 8a.

Taverns were also places where music was necessary. Evliya Çelebi writes that there were taverns throughout Istanbul; however, they were mostly located in “Samadyakapusu, Kumkapu, Yeni Balıkpazarı, Unkapanı, Cibalikapusu, Ayakapusu, Fenerkapusu, Balatkapusu, Hasköy, and Galata.” On the European side of the Bosphorus, there were taverns in Ortaköy, Kuruçeşme, Arnavutköy, Yeniköy, Tarabya, and Büyükdere, and on the Anatolian side in Kuzguncuk, Çengelköy, Üsküdar, and Kadıköy. The taverns that had “run off the rails” were in Galata. Some Istanbul men would go to the taverns and drink wine or raki, which Evliya defined as ruh-i sani (the second soul), watch the dancers, listen to the music, and have a good time: “Many singers, instrument players, musical ensembles, and jesters would gather at the Galata taverns; they would have a good time and enjoy themselves, day and night.”33 The bozahanes were also other places where music was performed in Istanbul. Evliya Çelebi narrates the story of Kılıç Ali Pasha, who likened the performance of the naathan (one who recites a poem in praise of Prophet Muhammad) during the official opening of his mosque, built by Mimar Sinan in Tophane, to the kind of music performed in taverns and bozahanes.34 Janissaries in particular would visit the taverns and bozahanes frequently. In the janissary companies, which were affiliated with the Bektashi Order, türkü (folk songs) and varsagi35 would be performed on a çöğür (a kind of lute-like instrument); during the circumcision feast held by Ahmed III (r. 1703–1730) for his four sons, the janissaries paraded, wearing tiger skins on their backs and playing the çöğür (figs. 8a-b).


Fasıl is a musical form that was developed by the Ottoman culture in Istanbul; it is a form of ancient classical Iranian music, consisting of four parts: the nevbet-i müretteb, kavl, the gazel, the terane, and the firudaşt; a fifth part, the müstezad, was only included in musical works by Abdülkadir Meragi.36 The lifestyle in Istanbul and Ottoman musical culture’s particular musical understanding transformed the nevbet-i müretteb into a new form. This new form, the fasıl, belonged to Istanbul, and its content was quite different from other forms that had come before. The fasıl has a structure of six parts—the peşrev, beste, ağır semai, şarkı, yürük semai, and saz semai—interspersed with instrumental interludes called taksim. Among the Ottomans, taksim was developed as a form not performed with a particular usul (rhythmic pattern) but a free-meter improvisational style, thus demonstrating the musical talent of the performer.37 While the gazel was a part of the nevbet-i müretteb, composed with a different usul, over time this term became associated with the taksim performed by a hanende (vocalist) in Ottoman musical literature. Evliya Çelebi writes that he spent his time in Enderun performing music in the meşkhane close to the bath in Topkapı Palace.38 In short, apart from being a musical form shaped in Istanbul, fasıl was also a generic name for an entire performance with a clear beginning and end.39 The first sense of the term came to broadly denote the sense of the “classical” style of Ottoman music; in the context of particular pieces of urban music, it is the second meaning of the term, in the sense of a distinct musical piece, that comes to the fore.40

Buhurizade Mustafa Efendi (also known as Itrî, d. 1712) became well known in the second half of the seventeenth century, during the reign of Mehmed IV (1648–1687); Itrî was a musician who participated in the gatherings of the sultan and performed many fasıls. Şeyhülislam Esad Efendi (d. 1753), wrote that Itrî had composed refined nakış and kârs in the style of the Persian music masters. In his Atrabu’l-asar, he wrote that Itrî had an odd and unharmonious voice, like a çeng with rusty strings; the author refers to Itrî’s voice as “being without makam or tone,” which suggests that his singing performance was out of key. On the other hand, Esad Efendi also states that Itrî performed many bülbül fasıls41 in the presence of the sultan, who was so pleased that he appointed Itrî as the kethüda (steward) of the female slaves and and then gained the right to engage in the slave trade. One explanation for this discrepancy might be that he listened to a performance by Itrî when he was at a more advanced age.42 In fact, the musical mastery of Itrî was appreciated by everyone. Itrî lived at the time when the Ottoman musical tradition was just beginning, and he has maintained his place of pride in musical society until today. There is no doubt that the fasıl performed by Itrî in the presence of the sultan, or in other musical gatherings in Istanbul, was the sophisticated form of music demanded by the Ottoman elite; this music advanced over time with the participation of musicians who worked to please this elite sector of society.

The musicians who lived at the end of the sixteenth and in the middle of the seventeenth century are mentioned in collections of biographies of poets, particularly in Mecmua-i Saz u Söz by Ali Ufki (d. 1675). In Ali Ufki’s anthology, chapters listing the musical works in each makam are organized under different headings, such as fasl-ı hüseyni, fasl-ı evc, etc. Hardly any of the composers whose works were recorded in these manuscripts have reached the present: tradition has passed on neither their names nor their works. But Ali Ufki was at Enderun for nineteen years, and the works he recorded in his collection would have been the pieces he heard there. When the autograph of his Mecmua-i Saz u Söz is examined, it can be seen that the main body of the text consists of works organized under the headings of “fasl-ı …” followed by the name of the makam. The folk music works that are recorded in this text, referred to as varsagi, bayati, or türki, are included with small marginal music notes. This tradition of classification—that is, stating the name of the makam under the heading “fasl-ı …”—has continued since the Hafız Post Mecmuası, the oldest anthology of lyrics from the Ottoman musical world available today. In the Hafız Post Mecmuası, there are some composers that were not mentioned by Ali Ufki: Taşçızade Recep, Nane Ahmed Çelebi, Âmâ Kadri Efendi, Küçük İmam, Koca Osman Efendi, Nazîm Çelebi, Abrizi Recep Çelebi, Hafız Post (the author himself), and Itrî. The musical works of these composers have been performed according to tradition in a great variety of musical gatherings over the centuries; some have been changed, some have been removed, and in this way, they survived until the beginning of the twentieth century.

Ali Ufki Bey and Hafız Post lived at approximately the same time. Both of them wrote works that were concerned solely with musicians; however, the composers they covered in their books were different. On this point, it should be emphasized that Ali Ufki Bey, probably, learned about the musical works he recorded in Enderun, a place closed to the outside world. However, Hafız Post found himself in many musical environments in the city of Istanbul, and thus represents a different musical circle.

Sometimes there were ceremonies or parades in which music was involved; these were held in public places in Istanbul, in the streets and squares. The call to prayer was recited five times a day from the city’s minarets, and mehter (Ottoman military music) was performed in places that marked the outer limit of the city, like Yedikule and the Rumeli and the Anatolian Castles. These would have filled the skies of Istanbul, and added a fourth, auditory dimension to the city. Instead of the sound of bronze church bells, as these had been banned, the softer, understated sound made by wooden church bells played at appropriate times also became engrained in the memory of the city. Great circumcision feasts and entertainments were held in Istanbul, first in the Hippodrome, and later in Okmeydanı and on the shores of the Golden Horn. In addition to members of the upper class people, the common people also participated in these celebrations; they watched the parades and the performances. Those circumcision festivals were a means for the sultan to meet his public and to be seen.

9- A music demonstration in the presence of Sultan Ahmed III: Burnaz Hasan Çelebi, the head singer (the singer with a hook nose and fur robe sitting at the beginning on the left side and directing the demonstration with his tambourine), ney, kemançe, tanbur and santur. Vehbi says, “about hundred singers and instrument players …” The miniature is a representational depiction. It is a painting of Nakkaş İbrahim (<em>Surname-i Vehbi</em>. Topkapı Palace Museum Library, A. 3594, fol. 106b)

10- <em>Bahçıvaoğlu Kolu</em>’s ortaoyunu show in the presence of the sultan and his sons on a raft in front of Aynalıkavak Palace (a miniature of Levni. <em>Surname-i Vehbi</em>. Topkapı Palace Museum Library, A. 3593, fol. 90a)

11- Şahrud (bass string of a type of lute) at the end of 16<sup>th</sup> century (İntizami, <em>Surname-i Hümayun</em>, Topkapı Palace Museum Library, H. 1344, a detail from fol. 18b) It does not exist anymore.

When the court returned to Istanbul after half of century of resides in Edirne, particularly during the era of Ahmed III, the sultan would leave Topkapı Palace and spend time in the pavilions and seaside residences that were built along the Bosphorus and Golden Horn and those belonging to high-ranking officials in the same area. The construction of fountains in the squares created new social places in the city. Ahmed III started to spend time in helva sohbetleri (gatherings) in various pavilions in Istanbul in the winter; in the summer, he participated in musical gatherings and poetry recitals in the gardens of waterside residences and mansions. Nevşehirli Damad İbrahim Pasha (d. 1730), who had been a former member of the halvahane of the palace and who was also a Melami,43 was a leading figure of this type of entertainment, which marked the start of a new “intellectual” movement among the Ottomans. This new atmosphere was reflected in music as well. Music occupied an important place at a festival in 1720 that was held by Sultan Ahmed III in Okmeydanı and Tersane Palace (Aynalıkavak Palace) on the shores of the Golden Horn. Music was performed throughout the festival, which lasted for fifteen days and nights. In Ottoman festivals, there were different types of music that had different functions: there was music that accompanied the dancing of performers; there was music performed during the ortaoyunu (popular theater); there was music that accompanied games like wrestling, acrobatics, and juggling; and there was serious fasıl music. There were also several types of musical groups, which performed the different musical genres mentioned above. Juggling performers (hokkabaz) would play on a drum or tambourine to the accompaniment of dancing bears or monkeys. The musical groups that accompanied the dancers and ortaoyunu included instruments like zurna, nakkare (a kind of drum), santur (hammered dulcimer), and def (a large flat drum). The mehter music was played while wrestlers and acrobats performed. The fasıl music was directed by the başhanende (lead singer), who held a drum, and a group consisting of ney, tanbur, kemançe, and miskal (panpipes) players performed the music. Hanendebaşı Burnaz Hasan Çelebi (Enfi Hasan Agha, Hulus; 1660–1729) was given the duty of arranging the fasıl music for the festival held in 1720. During the festival held in the presence of the sultan in Okmeydanı, “about a hundred distinguished vocalists and chosen instrumentalists” performed fasıls that lasted for two hours under the direction of Hanendebaşı Burnaz Hasan Çelebi (fig. 9).44 The poet Seyyid Vehbi (d. 1736), the author of the Surname that was written about this festival, stated that Enfi Hasan Agha was the composer of these musical works. Occasions like weddings enabled the composers who were affiliated with the court to compose “new” works. İsmail Dede Efendi was given the task of composing music for the wedding ceremony of Mahmud II’s daughter and Halil Rıfat Pasha (1834).45 Can we now explain what the words we often encounter in old texts, such as nev (new), yeni (new), and taze (fresh) signify when referring to music?

Aside from fasıls, it was dancer groups, essential elements in the entertainment life of Istanbul, that livened up people in Okmeydanı during the day and on the rafts that floated on the Golden Horn during the night. The Bahçıvanoğlu Group, Edirne Group, and Halil Group put on ortaoyunu, and impersonators and dancers staged performances of their own. In short, the people of Istanbul were given unforgettable days and nights (fig. 10). These dancing groups were professional music, dance, and performance groups. These performance groups are mentioned by Evliya Çelebi, and consisted of the young men from the city (şehir oğlanları). The Gypsy, Greek, Armenian, and Jewish groups were as follows: the Parpul Group, Ahmed Group, Kapucuoğlu Osman Group, Servi Group, Baba Nazlı Group, Zümürrüd Group, Çelebi Group, Akide Group, Cevahir Group, Patakoğlu Group, Haşota Group, and Semmurkaş Group.46 The dance groups, which can be traced back to the sixteenth century, contributed to the entertainment life of Istanbul for centuries.47 These dance groups were professional ensembles who earned their livelihoods by performing. The ensembles consisted of about two hundred to three hundred young men (şehir oğlanları) from the city, including instrumentalists, dancers, comedians, and jesters. In the seventeenth century, they performed at the weddings of the sultans’ daughters, celebrations of conquests, declarations of imperial edicts, and high-society weddings, earning a purse of kuruş (bir kese kuruş) every night. There were skillful masters of this art who could dance and perform with a drum until the morning; these people could earn as much as one thousand kuruş. Evliya Çelebi tells us that if he were to write down everything he saw, there would be one large volume dedicated to praising the performers under the title of “book of praise for musicians.”48 In the wedding ceremony of the marriage of Saliha Sultan, the daughter of Mahmud II, to the grand admiral and commander of the Imperial Cannon Foundry (Tophane müşiri) Halil Rıfat Pasha in 1834, “the dancers carried out various performances and drolleries.”49 In 1847, the Zuhuri Group performed at the wedding ceremony of Mehmed Murad (Murad V), the son of Sultan Abdülmecid, and the circumcision ceremony of Abdülhamid (Abdülhamid II).50 Observations made by the superintendant of the Fish Market (Balıkhane Nazırı), Ali Rıza Bey, indicate that the gypsy performance groups were an important and essential part of Istanbul’s entertainment life at every level of society in the period of Abdülaziz as well:

It cannot be denied how skilled these people are at entertaining and how they delight the crowds. Everybody appreciates and enjoys the lavta [a type of lute] of Hamza, the violin of Emin Agha, who was assigned to the palace in the period of Abdülaziz, the voices of his son Ahmet Bey and of İsmet Agha and Mustafa Agha, and the great violin talents of Memduh Efendi, İhsan Efendi, and Bülbül Salih Efendi, who are still alive today.51

Tanbur (long-necked lute)

One of the elements that define music is the timber, the sound. It would not be inaccurate to state that the main characteristic of Ottoman music is based on the human voice; however, in addition to the voices of men and women, instruments help to determine the sound of music. Until the mid-seventeenth century, the instruments that the Ottomans had brought to Istanbul and that were related to classical Iranian musical culture were dominant in fasıl and entertainment music: these included the ney, miskal, kemançe, oud, şehrud (bass string of a type of lute) (fig. 11), şeşhane, kopuz,52 tanbur, kanun (dulcimer), santur, and çeng.53

13- The tanbur depicted in Kantemiroğlu’s book. This five-string instrument should be the same instrument that Kantemiroğlu’s master, Angeli, had used. (Kantemiroğlu, <em>Kitabu Ilm al-Musiki</em>, fol. 131)

As the fifteenth-century author Ahmedoğlu Şükrullah states, the çeng was one of the “imperfect instruments,” as was the miskal. That is to say, when playing them, one could not change key or switch to a different makam; they had to stop and re-tune the necessary strings, or in the case of the miskal, the instrument had to have wax poured into the pipes to modify the length of the piece so as to switch keys. These instruments disappeared over time. The santur, another imperfect instrument, also fell out of use, as did the kanun. The kanun only reappeared in the nineteenth century after pegs were added, allowing the key of the strings to be changed during a performance. These “imperfect instruments” gradually lost their places in musical ensembles because of changes in the approach to musical modes; such changes must have required switching from one mode to another in a single musical composition. In the eighteenth century, the kemançe (also known as the rebab), an instrument with a round body and long neck, was replaced by the kemençe with three strings, a pear-like body, and a short neck. This was originally from the Balkans and Aegean islands, and is the same as the kemençe used today. Meanwhile, the violin, which originated in Europe and began to occupy an important place in musical ensembles, was the viole d’amour. In Turkish, it was known as the sine kemanı, a very accurate name. In a book he wrote in the middle of the eighteenth century, Fonton writes that it was one Greek Yorgi who brought this instrument to the East. According to him, this Frankish violin was popular only in the taverns. However, it is evident that the European violin was used during a concert held in the British Embassy in Istanbul in 1779. The depiction in miniature of this “Turkish concert” held at the British Embassy in Istanbul on 22 February 1779 offers information on the makeup of a professional music group: half the ensemble, which totaled twelve people, consisted of non-Muslims. Two of the three ney players were disciples of the Mawlawi Order, while the other was a non-Muslim. The vocalists were Turkish (!), and the miskal and hammered dulcimer were still in use. One of the two tanbur players was non-Muslim, the other one Turkish. Alongside the old kemançe, the viola d’amore was—probably—played in the same ensemble.

14- The team of musicians under the directorship of head singer Burnaz Hasan Çelebi (Enfi Hasan Ağa) in the festivities of 1720: <em>Miskal</em> (panpipe) and <em>kemançe</em> were in their places and the size of the lute got bigger (Nakkaş İbrahim’s painting, <em>Surname-i Vehbi</em>. Topkapı Palace Museum Library, A. 3594, a detail from fol. 80a)

It would not be an exaggeration to claim that the tanbur is the symbol that marks the beginning of Ottoman music’s transition to “classical”; the tanbur also represents progress on that path. Even though some instruments have disappeared over time and other new instruments have appeared, the tanbur has continued to keep up with the changes in music and thus has survived until today. In the middle of the seventeenth century, an understanding of sound that was peculiar to Istanbul, and thus required original instruments, started to develop. In the Byzantine period, there was a long-necked instrument known as the pandura (pandoῦra) that was played in Constantinople. In his article, Farmer describes the tanbur on the basis of philology and organology, and argues that the Arabs borrowed the word tanbur from Greek, while the Greeks in turn had borrowed it from the Sumerians.54 The tanbur or tanbura, which is often mentioned both in musical theory books and in texts not related to music, underwent changes and improvements in Istanbul: its body became larger and wider, the number of its strings was increased, and it is likely that its bridge was elevated. Previously, this had been an instrument played by plucking with a soft pick that was drawn up the strings. Over time, it became an instrument played with a hard plectrum. Visual documents prove that towards the end of the sixteenth century, the şeşhane was played with a long, hard plectrum.55 Istanbul was the place of this transformation of the tanbura, which was a long-necked instrument played in the oldest civilizations, in Asia as well as in Europe, by being plucked with the fingers or a plectrum made of bark or the wing bone of a bird.

Earlier writers of musical theory would use illustrations of the frets on the neck of the lute while explaining theories. It was Kantemiroğlu who first brought the tanbur to the fore as the model instrument. Kantemiroğlu became acquainted with Ottoman fasıl music during his musical education and training in Istanbul, and was taught by Kemani Ahmed and Tanburi Angeli. Not only did he explain theories, Kantemiroğlu also emphasized the importance of the tanbur, thus reflecting a musical knowledge unique to Istanbul. For Kantemiroğlu, the tanbur was the most developed instrument at that time: it could flawlessly produce any note that a human could make.56 It seems that the growing prominence of the tanbur worked against instruments with similar functions like the oud, the kopuz, and the şeşhane, pushing them into the background. To explain the fret system, Kantemiroğlu used an illustration of a tanbur in his book on musical theory (fig. 13). However, not everyone at this time agreed with Kantemiroğlu on this issue. Nâyî Osman Dede referred to Abdülkadir Meragi and defended the old way, the practice of defining the fret system with oud.57 Kevseri Mustafa Efendi copied the musical theory book of Kantemiroğlu; he was likely the first of the many later musicians who adopted this approach and utilized it in their work.58

15- Tanbur player Eyüp, the famous musician and theory writer of the period of Sultan Mahmud I as depicted in Hızır Ağa’s book <em>Tefhîmü’l-makâmât</em>. The wide tanbur that he was playing with deep body, four pair of eight strings, long holding, and played with hard plectron was very similar to the ones used today. As understood from the wood of its body and embroidery, it was still very thick. (Hızır Ağa, <em>Tefhîmü’l-makâmât</em>, fol. 21a)

15- The tanbur published by Haşim Bey (Haşim Bey, <em>Mecmûa-i Kârhâ ve Nakşhâ ve Şarkiyyât</em>, [Istanbul], 1280, p. 3)

The tanbur, the earliest mentions of which occur with Angeli in the seventeenth century, had become the favorite ensemble instrument by the beginning of the eighteenth century; this statement is supported by the prominent place of the tanbur in the circumcision feast held by Ahmed III for his sons in Okmeydanı and along the Golden Horn (fig. 14). In Topkapı Palace, there is a copy of the work Tefhimü’l-makamat fî tevlidi’n-nagamat by Kemani Hızır Agha, one of the companions of Mahmud I; the first illustration in this book is of a tanbur player (fig. 15). According to the verse near the portrait, this tanbur player lived in the district of Eyüp, and was himself called Eyüp. The marginal decorations indicate that the front wooden piece of the tanbur had not become narrower yet, but the round body of the tanbur had increased in size, and the bridge had risen. It is also recorded in the illustrations that the instrument had four pairs of eight strings tuned at the frets called neva, dügah, and çargah. The tanbur that was illustrated and described by Fonton, an author writing in the middle of the eighteenth century, also had eight strings. As Fonton states, “The body of the tanbur can be decorated with mother-of-pearl, ivory or silver”; thus, it can be understood that the front piece of the tanbur was quite thick, like the one Hızır Agha describes. The method of tuning this instrument was slightly different from that of the earlier tanbur. Based on the simple illustration of the tanbur the priest Giambattista Toderini included in his book about the music he experienced in Istanbul, it is clear that the tanbur also had eight strings in this period. Although the illustrations in a surname from the beginning of the eighteenth century depict a tanbur with only five or six strings, there can be no doubt that the number of strings rose to eight in this century. When the end of the century arrived, namely in the period of Selim III, there were tanbur players such as Tanburi İsak (Fresko Romano from Ortaköy), who was tutor to the sultan, the tanbur player and jeweler Oskiyam, and companions of Mahmud II in the palace like Numan Agha, Keçi Arif Agha, and Zeki Mehmed Agha, as well as the later Tanburi Ali Efendi and Tanburi Cemil Bey. Young tanbur players today are trained in the Cemil style, which was transformed into a school thanks to the dedicated research of Necdet Yaşar. The developmental adventure of the tanbur, which began with Kantemiroğlu, was included in a printed work for the first time in the Haşim Bey Mecmuası (fig. 15).59 Today there can be no doubt that the tanbur is an instrument that exemplifies the musical legacy of the Ottomans.

Dede Efendi

16- Şehzade Selim at the age of 12. Had he started music training at that age? Rafael’s painting (1773, Topkapı Palace Museum, Painting Collection, 17/117)

17- Dede Efendi (the picture published by Rauf Yekta Bey in the volume about “Dede Efendi” in his book <em>Esatiz-i Elhan</em>)

Kantemiroğlu’s description of his period as a time when there was “no end to inventing terkibat60” (Edvar, 47) also holds true for the period of Selim III61 (r. 1767–1808) (fig. 16); thus, we can understand that this was a period in which many mixed modes were created. A great admirer of Sultan Selim III, Nasır Abdülbaki Dede (d. 1821) informs us that he himself had created about five mixed modes and one new usul (rythmic pattern); he includes the names of 125 new terkibs in his book. In the addendum to his treatise, entitled Tedkik u Tahkik (Survey and Investigation), Nasır Dede states that the sultan studied his work and suggested that more terkibs be written and added to the book. The tradition of referring to the terkibs (a combination) as makam dates back to Kantemiroğlu. At the end of the seventeenth century, some terkibs were in high demand and widely used; it was at this time they started to be referred to as makam by some distinguished musicians.62 The old musical terminology and, along with it, the content of that terminology gradually started to change. In his treatise, Abdülbaki Nasır Dede recorded a Mawlawi ritual that had been composed by Selim III in the suz-i dilara makam; while recording this ritual, Abdülbaki Nasır Dede used a musical notation of his own invention that consisted of letters. These pursuits and quests demonstrate to us that there was a necessity for innovation in music. It can be understood that Selim III and his milieu did not consider the expressive elements, the makams, and perhaps the performance style of the old music to be sufficient at that time. It is also possible to deduce from Nasır Abdülbaki Dede’s undertakings that there had been suggestions to record music in writing with notes; however, this attempt did not prove to be very productive. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, Kantemiroğlu notated 355 musical works, while Kutbünnâyî Osman Dede, the head of the Galata Mevlevihane, notated musical works in a book using a system composed of letters.63 Musicians in Istanbul did not use either of the two notation systems mentioned above. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Ali Ufki Bey (Albertus Bobovius) notated 526 musical works, both short and long, using the Western notation system; however, this was for his personal use. As a matter of fact, apart from a few of his associates in Enderun, nobody saw Ali Ufki Bey’s work. Instead, a style of notation invented by Hamparsum Limoncuyan (d. 1839) using the Armenian alphabet and based on the khaz system was adopted by musicians and used for a long time; this was known as “Hamparsum Notation.”

The period of Selim III should be considered to mark the end of the process of ‘classicization’ in Ottoman music. The earlier musical styles and forms were no longer used. The progress of seventeenth-century music on the path of “Istanbulization” was irreversible. It became so well established that a need was even felt for innovation in the eighteenth century. The historian Atâ Bey lists the skillful musicians who lived in the period of Selim III as follows: Şehlevendim Hafız Abdullah Agha, Kırımî Tatar Hafız Ahmed Kâmil Efendi, Cennet Filizi Abdülkerim Efendi, Müezzinbaşı Şakir Efendi (Agha), Kemanî Mustafa Agha, Kemanî Ali Agha, Suyolcuzade Salih Efendi, and Kilârî Salih Efendi, the court companions Numan, Sadık, Tiryakî Said, and Fısdık Said Agha, Sadullah Efendi, Dellalzade İsmail Agha, Muhyiddîn Agha, Çilingirzade Ahmed Agha, Hüsnî Agha, İbrahim Efendi, Hasan Agha, Şevki Efendi, Hafız Abdurrahman Agha, Tanburî Keçi Arif Agha, Necib Agha, Şair İbrahim Rasih Agha, Sami İzzet Efendi, İzzet Agha, Zeki Mehmed Agha, Şehlevendimzade Rifat Bey, Seyyid Mehmed Ağazade Haşim Bey, Kazasker Mustafa İzzet Efendi, the musâhib-i şehriyârî (companion to the sultan) Kemanî Hızır Agha, Âmâ Corci, and Tanburî Ortaköylü İsak.64

The famous İsmail Dede Efendi (d. 1846) and the chief ney player Çalılı were among the musicians who were accepted into the palace meşkhane (music studio). İsmail Dede Efendi was perhaps the most important “discovery” of Selim III. Along with his works in the musical forms like köçekçe, tavşanca,65 or şarkı, Dede Efendi also composed kâr, murabba beste,66 nakış semai, Mawlawi rituals, and durak.67 Dede Efendi was important in the social environment and gatherings of both Selim III and Mahmud II (r. 1808–1839) for many years and became a musahib-i şehriyari (1812).68 Dede Efendi was then assigned to the post of müezzinbaşılık (chief müezzin), a high rank in the palace.

18a- Sultan Mahmud II’s Friday procession. Imperial band (Mızıka-i Hümayun) in
    their new uniforms walking by the sultan (François Dubois, “Selamlık Alayı,” Mimar
    Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Paintings and Sculptures Museum)

18b- A closer look at the picture 17a

Through his musical talent, determination, and ambition, Dede Efendi played a significant and leading role in re-shaping Ottoman music in the first half of the nineteenth century; this was a music that had found the opportunity and environment to thrive in Istanbul. Rauf Yekta Bey considers İsmail Dede to be the second founder of Ottoman music.69 Beginning to create its own characteristics at the beginning of the seventeenth century, this music was transferred from one person to another by oral tradition, and thus reached the period of Dede Efendi. Those who carried or transferred music were of course musicians, as mentioned above.70 This period, when there were countless changes in keeping with the taste of the period and the preferences of the performer in how to play every work, was an era in which a musical genius like Dede Efendi could thrive. It can also be said that after this period, there was a process or period in which sophisticated musical works in the form of fasıl were gradually produced less and less often, eventually reaching the point of extinction. Dede Efendi was the symbol, the icon of music at the end of this period, a period marked by the gathering together of the rich heritage of the past, but one that also marked the beginning of the end of that style of music. The style of the performances that we can hear on gramophone records made at the beginning of the twentieth century was the culmination of this heritage, which had been reassembled during the first half of the nineteenth century.71 It is a music symbolized by Dede Efendi, for it was he who re-interpreted the rich heritage of the Ottoman musical past, adding his own ingenious twist, and passed it along to us. It is something that can only be recognized and understood when performed. Indeed, this is the only way we can experience this heritage, and the only way we can reckon with it. The music of Dede Efendi was capable of defining “the new.” Rauf Yekta Bey offers the following perspective on the kül (entirety) that was created by the musical heritage of Istanbul:

The outstanding characteristic of the great composer Dede Efendi’s mastery, above all, is that he is the loyal protector of the traditional style of Turkish music, a music that had been formed over the centuries by the supporters of Itrî and similar musicians. However, this loyalty of Dede Efendi did not prevent him from producing works that embellished and innovated upon [that music]. It is possible to claim that, of the Turkish composers of the last century, only Dede Efendi was completely loyal to the “classical” style, while also managing to compose innovative and progressive works without transgressing the limitations and rules of that particular style.72


The unsuccessful new army called the Nizam-i Cedid of Selim III, which led to his death, was completed when Mahmud II established the new army called the Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediye. Vay Belim Ahmed Agha was assigned to be the trumpet player for the troops and Ahmed Usta was assigned to train them in the snare drum. Together with the new army, the mehterhane was also abolished and replaced with bando musika takımı (music band), consisting of the Enderun agha and the Darüssaade agha. Nokta Mehmed Efendi was appointed as the first officer of this band; Halil Efendi, Osman Efendi, Edib Agha, and Hasan Hace from the kiler (larders) were assigned as the second officers. To train this ensemble, first Monsieur Mankel from “the foreign subjects,” and “Signor” Donizet (Giuseppe Donizetti, also “Donizetti Pasha,” 1788–1856) were assigned as the istruttore generale delle musiche imperiali Ottomane (chief instructor of the Ottoman imperial musicians). The muzika-i hümâyun (imperial band) was also established. This first ensemble grew with the addition of the following people: Yesarizade Necip Pasha, Atıf Bey, İbrahim Pasha, Halil Edib Bey, Aynizade Kemal Galib Efendi, Rifat Bey’s brother Şemsi Bey, Merkezzade Nuri Bey, Bursalı Ferhad Agha, Rüşdi Pasha’s nephew İskender Bey, Edib Bey, Yusuf Bey, Rasih Bey, Muhtar Agha, and Hüsrev Agha.73 Instead of the sound and the grandeur of the mehter, the sounds of a new band’s pipes resounded in the skies above Istanbul (fig. 18a-b). However, the reverberations of the performances of the mehter could still be felt in Istanbul. Evliya Çelebi states that the military band played and performed every day and evening in many places in the city, in keeping with the orders of Mehmed II (fig. 19).74

19- <em>Mehter</em> which watched guard in three shifts and whose voice had always been heard in the city for various reasons like wrestling or wedding feasts etc. for three hundred years until the foundation of the Asakir-i Mansure-i Muhammediyye Army in 1826 (Nakkaş İbrahim’s panting, (<em>Surname-i Vehbi</em>. Topkapı Palace Museum Library, A. 3594, fol. 218a)

20- A play in Dolmabahçe Palace Theatre the decoration of which was done by F.Séchan, the decorator of French Opera building (<em>L’illustration</em>, 25 June 1859)

The sound of the band was a “new” sound for Istanbul, a city that had been capital to the Byzantines and then the Ottomans; it was not just new, it was also “foreign.” Abdülmecid (r. 1839–1861) transferred the Ottoman court from Topkapı Palace in Sarayburnu to Dolmabahçe Palace near Beşiktaş. Dolmabahçe Palace is a palace built in a European style; it was built during the Crimean War, when the Ottoman state had very little money. Behind the palace, a theater was built and many operas by Verdi and Rossini were performed there by Italian artists (fig. 20). At the same time, Naum Efendi’s theater in Beyoğlu also staged operas and Abdülmecid would go there to watch them. While plays were performed in Pera, semai kahves and çalgılı kahves (coffeehouses with music) continued to function on “the Istanbul side” of the city. Moreover, a totally new genre peculiar to Istanbul was being invented: the kanto. The name of this musical genre is derived from the Italian canto; however, there was no such music in Italy. At this point in time, Dede Efendi decided it was time to leave Istanbul and go to Mecca for his pilgrimage; and it was there that he passed away.

21- “Beethoven in Harem.” Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi listens to Beethoven in the harem section of Abdülmecid Efendi Mansion in Bağlarbaşı which used to be the place
    where the bronze sculpture depicting Sultan Abdülaziz on horse was kept. The sculpture currently is exhibited in Beylerbeyi Palace. It is understood from the partition
    written “Beethoven II” that the composition that was played by violin, viola, and piano was Beethoven’s “Piano Trio Number 2.” The painting of Caliph Abdülmecid Efendi
    (Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Istanbul Paintings and Sculptures Museum)

There is no doubt that the musical taste of the Ottoman elite did not change entirely when the mehterhane was replaced by the band. Firstly, the musical taste of Mahmud II did not change. The küme fasıls75 in the palace continued to be performed. Dellalzade İsmail Efendi and Zekai Dede, students of Dede Efendi, continued to compose in the older styles. These masters participated in the elite gatherings. Later, however, no one composed such musical works. Hacı Arif Bey (1831–1885) became famous as a composer of şarkı (songs). After Donizetti, the phrases alla franca and alla turca were changed into alaturka, which, indeed, is rather disparaging as a phrase. Ottoman music, which had proudly produced musical works in keeping with the refined taste of the Ottoman elite since the time of Itrî, had abandoned composing long-form works; the şarkı, a popular genre that could be understood easily by all came to replace the magnificent older styles. It gained prestige among the women in the palace. Abdülaziz (r. 1830–1876) also composed some şarkıs and oyun havası (dance music). The caliph Abdülmecid Efendi played the piano and was also an artist who held many art exhibitions. He was one of the founders of the Ottoman Artists Society. One of his paintings indicates his interest in Western music and art. This particular painting probably depicts a musical performance at the Mecidiye Pavilion in the Bağlarbaşı district. A trio of piano, violin, and violoncello play the Piano Trio No. 2 by Beethoven, while the caliph Abdülmecid Efendi listens to them, his legs crossed (fig. 21).

The leading figure during the extinction period of Ottoman music is Tanburi Cemil Bey. It can be said that he re-created the style of Ottoman music in the last period with his records and musical understanding; it is possible to verify this, as there are records from Cemil Bey, and it is in these records that we first encounter Ottoman music. Has the memory of the city forgotten the music that reflected the refined taste of the Ottoman elite? Does the rich heritage contained in the records, now transformed into şarkı and peşrevs, semais and ghazels, reflect that old style? Alas, we will never know!


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1 Mesud Cemil, Tanburî Cemil’in Hayatı, p. 87.

2 Bülent Aksoy, Geçmişin Musıki Mirasına Bakışlar, p. 38. Bülent Aksoy, in an article from which I have benefitted greatly in this essay, discusses the individual parameters of Ottoman music and draws a historical framework with which I largely concur.

3 For the concept of the creative performer, see: Ersu Pekin, “İki Itrî İçin Üç Yazı,” pp. 63-64; Ersu Pekin, " 'Fem-i muhsin' ya da yaratıcı icracı".

4 Those who listened to Tanburi Cemil while he was alive have told that his records do not capture his live performances. Later generations know Cemil Bey only via his phonograph records.

5 For information about the communities that came to Istanbul and settled there, see: Ekrem Işın, İstanbul’da Gündelik Hayat, p. 20 ed seq.

6 Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. I/1, p. 283 [fol. 170b], 340 [fol. 205a].

7 Aksoy, Geçmişin Musiki Mirasına Bakışlar, pp. 52-53.

8 Henry George Farmer, Studies in Oriental Music, ed. Eckhard Neubauer, Frankfurt: Institut für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 1986, vol. 2, pp. 301-303, 540-543.

9 A type of open harp with a varying number of strings used in Ottoman music until the eighteenth century.

10 Richard J. Dumbrill, The Archaeomusicology of the Ancient Near East, Victoria: Trafford, 2005.

11 Şahrud and kopuz both are old lute like instruments.

12 For these translations, see Henry George Farmer, al-Farabi’s Arabic-Latin Writings on Music, London: Hinrichsen Edition, 1965; Henry George Farmer, The Sources of Arabian Music, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1965; Farmer, Studies in Oriental Music, pp. 411-419; Amnon Shiloah, The Theory of Music in Arabic Writings (cl. 900-1900): Descriptive Catalogue of Manuscripts in Libraries of Europe and the U.S.A., München: G. Henle Verlag, 1979.

13 Murat Bardakçı, The Treatise of Ahmed Oglı Şükrullâh and Theory of Oriental Music in the 15th Century. Annotated Transcription, Textual Analysis and Facsimile, Published at The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, Harvard University, 2008, p. 9.

14 The old name for books of Turkish, Persian, and Arabic music theory. The word is the plural of the Arabic devr, meaning “cycle,” and refers to the cyclical descriptions of the tones, makams, and usuls (rhythmic patterns) that have come down through the different schools of musical theory.

15 For an example of this, see Nâyî Osman Dede, Rabt-ı Tâbirât-ı Mûsıkî, transcription: Fares Harirî, ed. Onur Akdoğu, İzmir: Akademi Kitabevi Yayınları, 1991, p. 45.

16 Taşköprîzade Ahmed Efendi, Mevzûâtü’l-ulûm, tr. Kemâleddin Mehmed Efendi, ed. Ahmed Cevdet, Istanbul: İkdam Matbaası, 1313, pp. 405-406.

17 Âşık Çelebi, Meşâirü’ş-şuarâ, ed. Filiz Kılıç, Istanbul: İstanbul Araştırmaları Enstitüsü, 2010, vol. 3, pp. 1538-1539. Relevant to the issue here, only one example about music is included; however, Aşık Çelebi writes that many branches of art achieved success in Rum (referring to Ottoman artists and artisans). The term “art” at this time differs from how the term is used now; within the framework of the ancient world, which had continued from the ancient Greeks, this term referred to a wide range of occupations, including tailors, halva makers, wool carders, and cooks.

18 Nâyî Osman Dede, Rabt-ı Tâbirât-ı Mûsıkî, trans. Müjgân Çakır, verse no. 139, 213, 228, 238, 242, 248.

19 Hâfız Post, Beste Mecmuası, TSMK, R. 1724, various places; Nilgün Doğrusöz, “Hâfız Post Güfte Mecmuası (Turkish Lyrics),” MA thesis, Istanbul University, 1993, various places.

20 The musical tradition of the religious communities in Istanbul has been summarized by Gönül Paçacı. (see: Gönül Paçacı, “İstanbul’un Müziği,” Karaların ve Denizlerin Sultanı İstanbul, ed. Filiz Özdem, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2010, vol. 2, pp. 434-438).

21 Kâr, beste, nakış, and semai are the vocal forms of Ottoman secular music.

22 Ali Ufkî (Albertus Bobovius), Saray-ı Enderun: Topkapı Sarayı’nda Yaşam, tr. Türkis Noyan, Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2013, p. 48 ed seq.; Alberto Bobovio, Serai Enderun, Vienna 1679, p. 49 ed seq.

23 Latîfî, Tezkire, Istanbul: Kitabhane-i İkdam, 1314, p. 267.

24 Âşık Çelebi, Meşâirü’ş-şuarâ, vol. 1, p. 465 The original text is as follows:

“… hânesi melce-i yârân u mecmâ-i rindân, hem-demleri ehl-i irfân, her şeb meclisi gûyendeler ü sâzendeler ile reşk-i gülşen-i pür-bülbül ve bülbüleler ile pür-gulgul ve her gün bezmi sâgar-ı pür-mey ve çihre-i sâkî-i lâle-izâr ile gül gül idi.”

25 Demetrius Kantemiroğlu, The History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman Empire, tr. N. Tindal, London: J. J., and P. Knapton, 1734, vol. 3, pp.151-152, note: 14 (I preserved Tindal's own ortography.)

26 In Ottoman music culture, meşk, which is a system used for training or practice, was based on learning pieces by singing or playing and memorizing them.

27 Ersu Pekin, “Evliya Çelebi’nin Müzik Kaynakları,” Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi’nin Yazılı Kaynakları [The Written Sources of the Seyahatname by Evliya Çelebi], ed. Hakan Karateke, and Hatice Aynur, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2012, p. 314 ed seq.

28 A wind instrument made of reed, which is smaller than ney.

29 Tayyârzâde Atâ, Osmanlı Saray Tarihi: Târîh-i Enderûn, ed. Mehmet Arslan, Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2010, vol. 3, p. 254.

30 Ekrem Işın, “Bir İçecekten Daha Fazla: Kahve ve Kahvehanelerin Toplumsal Tarihi,” Tanede Saklı Keyif: Kahve, ed. Selahattin Özpalabıyıklılar ed seq., Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık, 2001, pp. 26-27.

31 Peçuylu İbrâhim, Târih, Istanbul: Matbaa-i Âmire, 1283, vol. 1, pp. 363-364.

32 Osman Cemal Kaygılı, İstanbul’da Semai Kahveleri ve Meydan Şairleri, ed. Mustafa Apaydın, Istanbul: Merkez Kitaplar, 2007, numerous places.

33 Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. I/1, p. 355 [fol. 213b-214a].

34 Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. I/1, p. 217 [fol. 132b].

35 Türkü and varsagi both are some kind of folk songs.

36 Owen Wright, Words Without Songs, London: School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1992, p. 25; Murat Bardakçı, Maragalı Abdülkadir, Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık, 1986, pp. 25, 92.

37 Kantemiroğlu, Kitabu İlmi’l-Mûsîkî alâ vechi’l-Hurûfât: Mûsikîyi Harflerle Tesbît ve İcrâ İlminin Kitabı, ed. Yalçın Tura, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2001, vol. 1, p. 135.

38 Evliya Çelebi, “Horos Imâm, with whom I memorized the Qur’an in the has oda [privy chamber], and Tâyezâde Handân and Ferruhoğlu Assâf Beg and Ma‘ânoğlu and Keçeci Süleymân and Amber Mustafâ, who were my friends reciting the adhan [call to prayer], all gathered in the place for music (in meşkhane), near the bath in the palace, day and night, and performed music and fasıls of Hüseyin Baykara” (Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. I/1, p. 114 [fol. 69a]); “Hânende [vocalist] Kara Oğlan Âmidî was one of the students of Yahyâ and he was a unique master in usûl-bend and sihr-i helâl. Together with the ruler of Bitlîs, Abdâl Hân, I have performed the fasıls of Hüseyin Baykara for three years in Persia, then in Erzurum with Defterdârzâde Mehemmed Pasha in ‘56” (vol. I/1, p. 342 [fol. 206a]). When he mentions what the instrumentalists performed in the ceremony in front of the Alay Pavilion, he uses the word “fasıl”: “About the parade of the performers of pipes and reeds: There were eleven instrumentalists who were craftsmen and they all were soldiers. They all tuned their instruments and performed in segah makam, then Emîr-i Hac peşrev and Hasan Cân peşrev, gül‘izâr peşrev … and the fasıls of Tatar Hân semâ‘î and paraded in front of the sultan with a great and loud performance” (vol. I/1, p. 346 [fol. 208a]).

39 The phrase fasıl musıkisi is used by Bülent Aksoy (see: Aksoy, Geçmişin Musıki Mirasına Bakışlar, pp. 17-63, various places.).

40 (Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. I/1, p. 349 [fol. 210a]): “… ve bunlar Çingâne kollarına gâyet hasm olduklarından bir kol Çingâneden ve bir kol Yahûdîden dutup hasmâne bir fasıl Yahûdîler ve bir fasıl Çinganeler ede, garîb ü acîb temâşâlar olur.”

41 Bülbül means nightingale, so there is a metaphor here emphasizing how beautifully Itrî sang, like a nightingale.

42 See: Cem Behar, Şeyhülislâm’ın Müziği – 18. Yüzyılda Osmanlı/Türk Musıkisi ve Şeyhülislâm Es’ad Efendi’nin Atrabü’l-Âsâr’ı, Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2010, pp. 230-231, 350-351; Pekin, “İki Itrî İçin Üç Yazı,” p. 54.

43 For the Melami people in the Tulip Era see: Ekrem Işın, “Melamîlik, DBİst.A, vol. 5, 384-385.

44 Vehbî, Sûrnâme: Sultan Ahmet’in Düğün Kitabı, ed. Mertol Tulum, Istanbul: 2008, pp. 32, 226, 470, 566.

45 For this wedding, Dede Efendi composed the kâr, murabba, and yürük semai of the Buselik Fasıl; the other musical works of the fasıl were completed by Dellalzade İsmail Efendi, a student of İsmail Dede Efendi. Rauf Yekta, Esâtiz-i Elhân: Hoca Zekâî Dede Efendi, Hoca Abdülkadir Merâgî, Dede Efendi, ed. Nuri Akbayar, Istanbul: Pan Yayıncılık,, 2000, p. 164: “… Dede was assigned to compose some works to be performed in the palace during this imperial wedding.”

46 Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. I/1, p. 348-349 [fol. 209a-b].

47 For the dancer groups, see: Ersu Pekin, “Müzik Bir Çingene Sanatıdır; Ama…,” Metin And’a Armağan, ed. M. Sabri Koz, Istanbul: 2007, various places.

48 Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, vol. I/1, p. 348- [fol. 209a].

49 Hatice Aynur (ed.) The Wedding Ceremony of Saliha Sultan: 1834, Harvard: Harvard University Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, 1995, p. 82.

50 Tahsin, Surnâme, İÜ Ktp., TY, no. 6123, p. 5b.

51 Balıkhane Nazırı Ali Rıza Bey, Eski Zamanlarda İstanbul Hayatı, ed. Ali Şükrü Çoruk, Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2001, p. 175.

52 Şeşhane and kopuz are some type of lute.

53 Surname-i Hümayun is a source that has rich visual material about the music and instruments at the end of the sixteenth century. This book, depicting the great circumcision festival in Atmeydanı (Hippodrome), was written by a poet named İntizami and illustrated in the court nakkaşhane under Nakkaş Osman (TSMK, H.1344). For a study about this subject, see Ersu Pekin: “Surname’nin Müziği: 16. Yüzyılda İstanbul’da Çalgılar,” Dipnot, 2003, issue 1, pp. 52-90.

54 Farmer, Studies in Oriental Music, pp. 302, 542; Henry George Farmer, A History of Arabian Music to the XIIIth Century, London: Luzac & co., 1929, p. 7. Walter Feldman, who studied Islamic and Ottoman sources and wrote a comprehensive section about the tanbur, never mentions the pandur (see: Walter Feldman, Music of the Ottoman Court, Berlin: VWB-Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung, 1996, pp. 142-153).

55 Pekin, “Surname’nin Müziği,” p. 75.

56 Kantemiroğlu, Kitabu ‘İlmi’l-Mûsîkî, vol. 1, p. 3: “The most perfect and complete instrument of all that we know or see is the instrument known as the tanbur. It is so perfect that it can completely and flawlessly perform the sound and the tone that comes from a human being.”

57 Nâyî Osmân Dede, Rabt-ı Tâbirât-ı Mûsıkî, verse no. 238: Zânki Hâce kerd der-edvâr-ı hod / Resm-i yeksâzî ki nâmeş sâz-ı ‘ûd (In his musical theory book, an instrument known as an oud was illustrated).

58 This book, known as Kevseri Mecmuası, was in the personal library of Rauf Yekta Bey. After he passed away, his children inherited this work. It is still kept by the Yekta family.

59 Hâşim Bey, Mecmua, Istanbul 1285, p. 73.

60 Terkibat (plural of terkib), a combination; one of a particular category of modes.

61 In addition to being an accomplished composer, Selim III was also a sultan who supported music and patronized musicians. Before ascending to the throne, Selim III learned poetry, calligraphy, and music. The historian Atâ writes about his being a musician: “Before he became sultan, he studied poetry, was engaged in calligraphy, and learned the science of music as if he had been following the famous master Hace in Iran. Apart from this, he composed two works in the suz-i dilara fasıl, a makam he invented himself, and two semais; he made a composition in the rast-ı cedid makam; a composition and semai in the pesendîde makam, and compositions in the büzürg makam, magnificent şarkıs in the mahur, arazbar, şehnaz, muhayyer sünbüle, şehnaz buselik, tahir dede, buselik, hüzzam fasıl, şevk-i tarab, and şevf-efza makams, and the grace of his melodies [!] … How accomplished he was in music is also mentioned by the masters of music such as the author of Fethiyye and Agânî-i Kebîr, the philosopher Pythagoras, Hâce Nasıru’d-dîn and Safiyyü’d-dîn ‘Abdü’l-mü’min and Nâsıru’d-dîn al-Fârâbî and Kemâlü’d-dîn Tûsî and Shaykh Şihâbü’d-dîn and Shaykh Ebû ‘Alî Sînâ and Celâlü’d-dîn Harezmî, ‘Aliyyü’d-devle ve’d-dîn and ‘Alî Şâh ‘Abdü’l-azîz-i Kirmânî, Shams-i Isfahânî, Celâlü’d-dîn Şebüsterî, Muhammed Lâlâ-yı Mısrî, Hâce ‘Abdü’l-kâdir Merâgî and Receb Çelebi, Tanbûrî Mehmed Çelebi, Nâyzen ‘Ali Hâce …” So stating, he mentions all the musicians of that period, particularly Dede Efendi, who had contacts with the palace, and says that he heard from those people how skillful the sultan was in music (Tayyârzâde Atâ, Osmanlı Saray Tarihi, vol. 3, p. 109).

62 Kantemiroğlu, Kitabu ‘İlmi’l-Mûsîkî, vol. 1, p. 43: “Aware that some compositions were in demand, they were called makam and even some distinguished musicians have called those compositions makam”; Kantemiroğlu, Kitabu ‘İlmi’l-Mûsîkî, p. 101: “Some of the compositions are in more demand than others and for this reason they are called makam by musicians; this is a common mistake. And composition can be called makam because of the vocalist’s going beyond the compositions, composing beste or nakş.”

63 This book by Nâyî Osman Dede was inherited by the children of Rauf Yekta Bey, and is still in the family’s possession.

64 Tayyârzâde Atâ, Osmanlı Saray Tarihi, vol. 1, p. 239; vol. 3, p. 38.

65 Köçekçe and tavşanca both are melodies played for male dancers in female attire.

66 A secular vocal form composed in quatrains.

67 A religious vocal style of Ottoman music, composed with qaside-type poetry praising the Creator.

68 Hızır İlyas, Osmanlı Sarayında Gündelik Hayat: Letâif-i Vakâyi‘-i Enderûniyye, ed. Ali Şükrü Çoruk, Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2011, p. 3: “Since there is hardly any equivalent to the musical talents and voices of Derviş Ismail Efendi, who knows makams very well—so congratulations to him—and Hanende [vocalist] Arif Agha, who is one of the people with silent desires … that’s why, by means of the title of companion, the şevk-âver-i sürûr-ı nühüft [the names of compound makams]of the two Farabis of that time … were superior to their peers.”

69 “… being al-Farabi of that century, in other words, the true founder and constructor of the source of our music, he is known as Dede Efendi” (Rauf Yekta, Esâtiz-i Elhân, Hoca Zekâî Dede Efendi, p. 14).

70 The music defined by Kantemiroğlu might be the one that was practiced in Istanbul since the mid-seventeenth century. To observe the musical environments that carried music from the seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century and the way that the music took on the character of today, experimentation in the series of “composer-performer-musicologist” may help us to form an opinion about the conveyance and notation of music. Itrî, Hafız Post and his colleagues, and Nâyî Osman Dede, the shaykh of Galata Mevlevihane, were the leading musicians in the second half of the seventeenth century and in the beginning of the eighteenth century. Later, Alî Nutkî Dede, the grandson of Osman Dede, son of Saide Hanım, and the shaykh of the Yenikapı Mevlevihane, became the tutor of Derviş İsmail (Dede Efendi). One of the students of Dede, Zekâi Dede Efendi, became the tutor of Rauf Yekta Bey; Rauf Yekta, together with his close friend and Zekâî Dede’s son Hafız Ahmed (Irsoy) Bey, notated the music in their memory for the Darülelhan (Conservatory).

71 Pekin, “İki Itrî İçin Üç Yazı,” pp. 64-65.

72 Rauf Yekta, Esâtiz-i Elhân, Dede Efendi, p. 194. For a consideration of the concept of kül in the context of the rich heritage of the Turkish musical tradition, and Dede Efendi’s re-shaping of this heritage, see: Pekin, “İki Itrî İçin Üç Yazı,” pp. 64-65, 68.

73 Tayyârzâde Atâ, Osmanlı Saray Tarihi, vol. 3, pp. 149-150.

74 Evliya Çelebi, Seyahatnâme, vol. 1, pp. 361-362: “Forty soldiers performed three fasıls in the evening and in the morning; this is on the order of Mehmed the Conqueror. In the four places [jurisdictions] in Istanbul [Evliya uses the name İslâmbol], in Eyyub, Kasımpaşa, Galata, Tophane, Beşiktaş, Rumeli Hisarı, Yeniköy, Rumeli Yenihisarı, Kavak Yenihisarı, Beykoz, Anadolu Hisarı, Üsküdar, Kızkulesi, in these thirteen places mentioned, every evening and morning [dawn], the military band performs; the subaşıs, qadis, and dizdars [castle wardens] stand at attention; this is on the order of Mehmed the Conqueror, because these places were serhads [frontiers] at that time. In fact, they still are serhads.”

75 Literally a “league/group” fasıl: a musical ensemble playing at large-scale festivities at the Ottoman palace. The term was used to emphasize a large number of musicians playing together.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

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