Turkish music history, which searches the relationship of Turks with the music since Turks emerged onto the word, shows three main period. All these periods were separated by important events such as acceptance of Islam and disappearance of Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, Pre-Islamic period is really dark part of Turkish history. The reason of that the Turks hadn’t expressed themselves in writing during the period. That’s why there’re really limited resources and no large knowledge about Turkish culture and arts before Islam.
The pre- Islamic period covers the time between emergences of Turks onto stage till the acceptance of Islam. This period is very important for development of Turkish music because roots come from that period. The first information about Turkish music is from some Chinese sources about Uygur Turk’s music. More, some archaeological digs in Central Asia give the evidence of well-developed musical culture among Uygur, Huns and Gökturks. It’s known that many musician and instrument presented to Chinese princes from Turks princes. Another important tradition from the time was military marching band which later became Mehteran, Janissary music. We should also know that Turks had been under effect of Shamanism, Manichaeism and Buddhism in that times. Consequently, the music, singing as well as drumming and sometimes other instruments, had been used in rites. At that time, Turks also had migratory life which means: they spreaded over various regions, interacted with numerous different cultures. Consequently, they learnt various easy transportable instruments as a result of the interactions with other communities. The music was performed by ecclesiastics in religious ceremonies and by Aşıks (Minstrels). Minstrels were most important figures of Turkish society during the period. Their importance was not only for music, they were also one of the most distinguished and brilliant communities of performers encountered with the realm of Turkish culture. They sung lyrics and poetry to accompaniment of the saz. Minstrels were properly artists that give to voice to all of the social events of the societies and write footnotes to history. They had developed great oral literature and used music to accompany the words in order to make them more moving and more understandable. Then, they travelled and spreaded their words to society.
Photo Credits: Carlo Rainone