Organology Studies in Turkey – I


Greek organon, Latin organum It is derived from the word, French to our language. organology The discipline of organology, which has passed the term, is briefly defined as the science of instruments. According to the definition in the Mahmut Ragıp Gazimihal Music Dictionary, "the list of instruments that have been instrumental in emotion, from the smallest to the most advanced, from the children's instruments to the artist's instruments, whose influence is known in folklore sounds as well as in the new and old music of European art in all ages and in all civilizations. and science, which is without exception preoccupied with its history. 

When we look at its historical development, the science of musical instruments will be given the name of organology when the German music theorist Preatorious named the second volume of his book “Syntagma Musicum” published in 1618 as “De Organographia”. Geographical discoveries, colonial movements and colonial wars, which led to the birth of many disciplines, are the main events that led to the emergence of the discipline of organology. With the discovery of new continents, travelers traveling to new places felt the need to classify the material they collected after a while, and thus organology began to gain ground as an independent discipline.

In Turkey, the discipline of organology emerged late and the course of its emergence was different from Europe. The official start of organology studies in Turkey, which started in Europe in the 17th century, was the establishment of instrument making workshops that would later turn into production departments of conservatories. Just as it was not possible for a discipline to emerge overnight, organology could not find a place for itself with the establishment of instrument making workshops at an academic level. Therefore, studies that paved the way for the emergence of this discipline should also be included in the process.

The most important reason why the emergence of organology in Turkey is different is that this discipline, which was shaped around the discipline of anthropology in the world, was shaped around the disciplines of folklore and ethnography in the first years of the republic in Turkey. In these years, when Herder's “towards the public” movement was adopted and compilations were made all over the country, some information on the construction and repair of instruments used in any region was compiled, although direct instrument information was not compiled. Dârü'l Elhan (House of Songs), which was the first official conservatory of the Ottoman Empire and was active during the founding years of the republic, is one of the most important institutions that carried out this compilation work on Turkish music in these years. After the armistice, Dârü'l Elhan prepared approximately two thousand questionnaires consisting of the following questions, which were sent to all over Anatolia by the Ministry of National Education. 

1Are there any musicians and musicians in your country who have gained fame in playing the saz? What are their names and identities?
2Which musical instruments are used in your town and which of them is played the most?
3Are there any music societies in your city? Giving information about the establishment dates and numbers and activities, if any.
4Which folk songs are sung in your town and villages? Writing and sending their notes.
5Who are the folk songs? What kind of situations and events were they influenced by?
6Which folk songs are the most loved and sung? Are there any among them who describe and express the feelings and legends of the old and new eras? Sending notes, if any.
7Are there any notes and books of our old musical works in the libraries in your city or in any person? Statement about them, if any.
8Are there any old reeds that have been preserved until now in your area? If so, what are they and to whom?
9What things have boys and girls in your schools learned so far as marches and songs? What are their names? Whose work is it?
10What kind of national and patriotic songs were sung in our country during the First World War and the national struggle, and which ones are still being sung? If there are songs on this path, sending their notes
11Which sheet music and music books do you need the most?
12Are there people in your city who manufacture and repair musical instruments? Which instruments are they most engaged in producing and repairing?
13What kind of instruments are played in all kinds of entertainments in towns and villages, what are they sung as songs and folk songs?
14What is your general evaluation of the songs and folk songs that express the feelings of the people? 
Table 1: Dârülelhan Questionnaire Form

As seen in the table, the 2nd, 8th and 12th questions in the questionnaire are for the determination of folk instruments. In general, although the questions are for the determination of folk music materials, they are of great importance in terms of the recognition and recording of instruments by official institutions (in 1927, all compilations made between 1927 and 1929, when the name Dâru'l-Elhân was replaced by the Istanbul Conservatory, were mentioned in the literature. It seems to have been made under the name of the Conservatory). 

Turkish Folklore Association was established in Ankara in 1927 and this association published a guide called “Guide to Folklore Collectors” in 1928. Gazimihal wrote a study called “Guide to Collectors of Folk Knowledge on Music” in this guide. In this section, it gives information on the need to record all the characteristics of the instruments, from the region they are used to and how they are used, from their external appearance to their measurements, from the number of strings to their raw materials. After his fourth compilation trip in 1929 within the Istanbul Conservatory, the following works were published in the Bartın Newspaper between 1930 and 1940: The origin of the Black Sea kemençe style, Anatolian children's instruments, Tulum whistle and horn, A lesser-known historical folk instrument: Mey. Apart from Gazimihal, M. Şakir Ülkütaşır's articles titled “A research on folk instruments in Sinop and its environs”, and Sadi Yaver Ataman's articles titled “Kemae or bow in folk instruments and Anatolian folk instruments and local musicians” were also published in the Bartın Newspaper, which paved the way for the recognition of the instruments. is one of the works. 

Atatürk's words in the opening speech of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 1, 1934, marked the beginning of a new era that will be called the Music Revolution: “I know how you want the youth of the nation to be promoted in all fine arts. This is done. However, it is Turkish music that needs to be brought to the fore the quickest. The measure of a nation's new change is its ability to perceive and comprehend the change in music. The music that is attempted to be listened to today is far from being of a value to be lauded. We must know this clearly. It is necessary to collect high sayings and utterances expressing national, subtle feelings and thoughts, and to process them the day before, according to the general final music rules. Only at this level can Turkish national music rise and take its place in universal music…”. As it is clearly seen in his speech, Mustafa Kemal glorifies Turkish music. However, these words were perceived by the public as the banning of Alaturka music, the issue was taken in different directions, and it was written and drawn in the newspapers that young people should not listen to such music and not go to places where Alaturka music is played. In fact, according to the news of the Akşam Newspaper, there was a decrease in the price of Turkish instruments. 

Figure 1: Evening, 13 November 1934.

In fact, the need for a revolution in terms of music is not unfounded. Because, as Ali Rıfat Çağatay said in his work titled “The Essence of Western Music is Old Turkish Music” in 1934, Turkish music instruments are faced with a serious attack campaign. Ottoman music, especially represented by the oud in the foreign press, is compared to an invading enemy, and it is claimed that those who make music with Turkish music instruments deserve a mental hospital. In addition, none of these instruments are considered suitable for stage music. It is stated that unless European music is adopted, the continuity of Turkish music will not exist. All these smear campaigns create the need for Turkish music to reveal itself in terms of both instruments and works. For this reason, the establishment of an instrument making workshop at the Ankara State Conservatory in 1936 and the appointment of an expert named Heinz Schafrat, who was brought from Germany to head this workshop, was an important turning point. Schafrat, although II. Even though he returned to his country in 1939 with the outbreak of World War II, the assistants he trained (Necati Orbay, Abdullah Arseven and Mithat Arman) brought his instrument making workshop to important places. This instrument making workshop, where instruments were first made to certain standards, is one of the turning points that will enable the organalogy discipline to become an independent discipline in Turkey. While the works before 1936 were mostly a by-product of compilation activities, it will be seen that Turkish and European instruments were produced within the scope of standardization and instrumentation after this date. 


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Evening, 13 November 1934.

Dârülelhan Journal, 1 February 1340, Şehzadebaşı, Evkâfi Islamiyye Printing House.

1 Review

  1. Dear Meltem, congratulations. It's a good article. I learned a lot of new information.
    I wish you success in your work.
    Greetings, loves.


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