Continuing to educate myself belatedly about the rich musical traditions of Turkey (on a bit of a Turkey roll—see e.g. Songs of Asia Minor; The Janissary band; Köçek in Kuzguncuk!): among the various ethnic groups, the musicking of the yayla is documented by Jérôme Cler.
In southern Anatolia, the inhabitants of the “high pastures” (yayla) around the towns of Çameli and Acipayam claim descent from nomadic Turkmen peoples (cf. Bartók’s 1936 visit to the Yörük around Adana).
As Cler explains, the zeybek is a slow solo dance performed by men; the kïvrak oyun havalarï is a faster, more popular dance. Among song genres, the unmeasured gurbet havasï is a type of uzan hava “long melody”. Instruments included plucked lutes (cura, a variant of saz); the reed flute sipsi; davul-zurna; and violin, played upright like the kemenche, resting on the thigh (cf. Indian and world fiddles). Aksak additive metres are standard, with various combinations of 2s and 3s, usually in nine beats.
Here’s Cler’s video montage of yayla musicking in society—including a scene on a bus from 19.01; davul-zurna from 21.53; song indoors with fiddle and saz from 26.22, followed by a fine contrast:
Cler released an excellent overview of yayla musicking in his CD Turquie: musiques des yayla (Ocora, 1994). This selection has most tracks:
It’s an enthralling album. In 1998 Cler followed this up with two further CDs,
- Turquie: le violon des yayla
- Turquie: le sipsi des yayla.
He has also published a book on the topic:
- Yayla: musique et musiciens de villages en Turquie meridionale (2011),
with video illustrations here.
Cler’s website has many more entries on yayla musicking here.
I like his comment—reminding me of arriving in a dingy modern Chinese county-town, and widely applicable around the world:
The traveller in search of music will see nothing; he [sic] needs an introduction.
2 thoughts on “Turkey: musicking of the yayla”
Thank you very much for this nice review! And see also the bektashi yayla’s!
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