TURKISH MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
Ethnomusicologist Etem Ruhi Üngör, whose research in this field is known worldwide, has travelled thousands of miles over the years, from city to city and village to village in search of traditional Turkish musical instruments. Every inch of his tiny flat is filled with books and his collection of 700 musical instruments, including many whose appearance and even names are unfamiliar. As well as obscure folk instruments, his remarkable collection includes a tanbur (classical long necked lute) made in 1887 by Uzunyan belonging to Tanburi Cemil Bey, a lavta (lute) made by Kosti Ventura in 1840 which belonged to Sultan Abdülaziz, girifts (reed instruments with eight holes) which belonged to the girift player Asim Bey and the famous ney players Tevfik and Sevki Sevgin, two 18th century dulcimers, rebabs (spike fiddles made of coconut shells), and kemençes (Black Sea fiddles). An unusual metal ney (classical Turkish reed flute) is one of the most interesting pieces in the collection. It was made by Neyzen Tevfik when he was staying at a psychiatric hospital undergoing treatment for alcoholism. The other patients kept breaking his wooden neys, and in desperation he removed a length of metal piping from his bed and fashioned a sturdier instrument for himself.
The kosney, of which there are several examples in Üngör's collection, is a wind instrument made of an eagles wing bone. Another unusual instrument to be seen is a long-necked stringed instrument called a cura.There are bells from almost every part of Turkey, and a nefir dating from 1859 made from the horn of a wild goat and used to call worshippers to the ceremonies of the Bektasi dervishes. A rectangular drum of a kind no longer made today comes from the Mediterranean town of Silifke, and there is even a conch shell of the type known as a triton, which sailors used to communicate at sea. These shells were also blown by circumcisers to announce that the operation was over.The many wind instruments in ÿngör's collection include the zurna (Turkish oboe), the longest type of which is made in western Turkey, and which becomes shorter as it crosses the country eastwards. ÿngör explains that this reflects variations in musical tastes from region to region, the people of western Turkey finding the sound of the small zurna too piercing, and those of the east the sound of the long zurna too deep. ÿngör explains that no country in the world has such a great range of musical instruments, including 25 types of zurna alone. He regrets the passing of local tradition in our modern world.
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):