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  • Writing the History of "Ottoman Music." ed. by Martin Greve
  • M. Emin Soydaş (bio)
Writing the History of "Ottoman Music." Edited by Martin Greve. Translated by Efkan Oğuz, Martin Greve, and Onur Nobrega. Istanbuler Texte und Studien 33. Würzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2015. pp., illustrations, bibliography. ISBN: 978-3-95650-094-7 (hardcover), €68,00; ISBN: 978-3-95650-205-7 (e-book), €68,00.

This interesting volume comprises fifteen articles that were originally presented at a confe.rence in 2011 that was held jointly by the Turkish Music Conservatory of Istanbul Technical University and the Orient-Institut Istanbul. The book brings forward the matter of writing the history of "Ottoman music," although only one part is specifically devoted to the subject. An introduction by the editor is followed by four parts dealing respectively with historiography, periodization, folk music, and reconstruction, and these sections primarily feature renowned authors considering various aspects of Ottoman/Turkish music. The volume ends with a common bibliography and information on the contributors.

That the term "Ottoman music" is put in quotation marks in the title of the book represents a basic dissidence in defining the given tradition. Greve discusses this controversial issue and claims that the preference in the title is a "diplomatic" solution (9). But while "Turkish" might not always be the proper term when the subject in question is the music of the peoples under Ottoman rule, it is quite unreasonable to hesitate using it for the mainstream musical traditions that have been developed overwhelmingly by the Turkish-speaking people in Anatolia and Rumelia. Given that the terms "Ottoman" and "Turkish" are often used interchangeably in most of the articles even in this volume, it seems pointless to compel oneself to make a choice between them, which would not make much sense considering the historical facts. Another problem with the phrase "Ottoman music" is that most of the authors who use it refer only to art music, without giving any reason why, say, folk music is not included.

The first part of the book bears the same title as the book itself, because the papers dealing directly with the subject only appear here. Bülent Aksoy criticizes the fictional and official histories that predominate much of the existing musicological literature in Turkey and makes some sound suggestions [End Page 118] for prospective studies on the subject, among which focusing on microtopics and eliminating inconsistency come to the forefront. In his well-grounded comparison between European and modern Turkish musicology, Ralf Martin Jäger points out the lack of systematic and methodologically adequate documentation of Ottoman sources and their satisfactory critical editions in Turkey, and he argues that Turkish musicology should develop its own original concept of methodology. In agreement with the previous authors on emphasizing a source-based history, Ruhi Ayangil classifies musicological sources and lists the requirements for a comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of them and also proposes a draft contents for a book titled "Turkish Music History." Ersu Pekin, on the basis of iconographic evidence, draws an analogy of change between the practices of Ottoman music and painting. His conclusion, however, is no more than a statement of the known facts: problematic dating or absence of musical compositions is a roadblock to analyzing change. Similar detailed concerns are found in all these articles about the significance of historical notations and also about the indexing and critical editions of them, but none of the authors completely names all—of the few—major sources.

The second part is not entirely about periodization, as suggested by its title, but the chapter by Nilgün Doğrusöz partly addresses the issue from the perspective of the alterations in the history of theories of Turkish art music from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, but she does so without any descriptive comparison. Kyriakos Kalaitzidis presents remarkable new findings concerning the notation collections of Petros Peloponnesios (1740–1778), which are among post-Byzantine manuscripts of secular music and which offer original information on eighteenth-century Ottoman music. Gönül Paçacı's contribution illustrates the transformation that stemmed from the growing number of musical publications and the increasing influence of Western music...


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