Turkish music – More than just belly dance

There’s another very helpful way to learn Turkish or any other foreign language which I use to do and which I already introduced in many blog articles before. Try to listen to Turkish music. And there’s much more than only belly dance which is a typical tourist attraction in the hotels of Side or Alanya. I want to introduce to you some about Turkish music in this article. On the picture you can see the beautiful Dolmabahçe Palace which you can see when making a boat trip through the Bosporus. And the sultans palaces are a kind of birth place of Turkish music. There are more than 500 different melodies and the classic Turkish music which has been played in the palaces is called türkü. For European or American ears this music might sound a little bit yawning. But try to concentrate on it and try to pay attention if you can understand some words sung in Turkish. The singers of the türkü were called aşık or in the plural form aşıklar. They were using an instrument you will still see in the streets or in the bars and night clubs of Istiklal Caddesi which is the main street of Istanbul right behind the famous Taksim Square. It’s the Turkish guitar called saz or bağlama. That’s a typical Turkish musician playing the saz at Eminönü Pier.

Istanbul 2018 026

And if you remember my article I wrote about the Greek music a few months ago you will know that the bouzouki is not that typical Greek as we use to think. After Atatürk drove out the Greek inhabitants from Turkey in the 1920s they brought the Turkish musical influences to Greece. They created the rebétiko which is a Turkish inspired Greek music. Originally it has been played in the poor barriers of Athens and Thessaloniki and the lyrics were about poverty and misery. The bouzouki is actually nothing but the Greek version of the saz you can see on the picture there. It was Mikis Theodorakis who made it famous all over the world as typical Greek instrument. But let’s get back to Turkish music which also gained a huge polularity all over Europe thanks to Sezen Aksu which is the queen of Turkish pop music. Her songs are inspired by the French chansons but sung in Turkish. You will certainly also remember Tarkan with his summer hit of 1999 Şımarık. Another example when Turkish music and culture became popular in Europe is Sertab Erener who won the Eurovision Song Contest with Everyway that I can for Turkey back in 2003. It was a huge scandal as she was the first Turkish representative to sing exclusively in English. Furthermore she was singing about a topic women were not allowed to sing. The song was about a woman living in a harem trying to win the sultans attention which was underlined by the choreography. If you want to listen to Turkish music to improve your language skills just go for it and listen to Sezen Aksu, Mustafa Sandal or Burhan Öcal. And believe me it really helps to learn a new language!

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