Introduction to Nationalism in Music
20th century became an era of changes and new occurrences in the field of music. There started to be an effect of nationalism in music. New music types started to occur with apparent differences and flavors. Turkey was exposed to those changes in music as well. After 1923, Turkey opened a new page in terms of government regime, education and also music. This paper analyzes the development of Turkey’s western-style music tradition, which started around the beginning of 20th century, and also touches upon how nationalism movement affected music in early 20th century.
Nationalism in Turkish Music
It is quite noticeable that western music had a great influence on Turkish music during 20th century. Mark Lindley states in his book about the Turkish contemporary music in 20th century that “For Turkish composers then and for quite after a while afterwards, to write contemporary music meant to adopt European techniques and follow European models, though with a few adjustments accommodating local tastes and institutions” (Lindley, 2011). The reason behind the change in Turkish music towards western music is about the divergence of Turkey towards western nations in several fields with the new revolutions. The transformation of Turkish music into western music was supported by the government of Republic of Turkey at that time as well. The most important sign for the government support in transformation of music into western style is about sending 5 Turkish composers to study abroad in the field of music. Those five composers, who are Cemal Reşit Rey, Hasan Ferit Alnar, Ulvi Cemal Erkin, Ahmet Adnan Saygun and Necil Kazım Akses, are the first representatives of Turkish music in 20th century in Europe. The influence of western music on Turkish music is underlined by Lee Stacey as well by claiming that “However, because of the secularization and the importance of the tourist industry, Turkish music has probably absorbed more Western influence than that of other neighboring countries” (Stacey, 2014).
Nationalism in Music
While analyzing the 20th century music, it is a must to underline the effect of nationalism in music. Before analyzing the relationship between music and nationalism, it is needed to understand what is meant by nationalism. Ernst B. Haas states in his article that nationalism can have different meanings such as certain types of economic policy, linguistic identity, a particular ideology of solidarity or an industrial principle of social evolution and social organization (Haas, 1986). While relating nationalism in music, it can be said that this issue is about using the ideas about music which are related to a particular ethnic group, a country or a group of people living in the same area. During 20th century, there had been several influencers about the use of nationalist ideas in music such as World War II, revolutions, the great depression in United States and etc. While music in all over the world got affected by nationalist ideas, Turkish music during 20th century also had a relationship with the idea of nationalism. John Morgan O’Connell states in his book that “Turkish musicology reflected this contemporary concern with the origins of Turkish culture. While the alafranga camp continued to denigrate all types of Turkish music, the nationalist perspective looked to Central Asia as a way of legitimating its own conception of a national style (O’Connell, 2016). By the aid of what O’Connell states, we can say that nationalism influenced Turkish music in 20th century as well. O’Connell further mentions in his book that “In particular, Saygun and Gazimihal proposed a theory of pentatonicism. According to this theory, pentatonicism not only connected Anatolian music to a Central Asian prototype but that it also connected Turkish music to a number of European traditions” (O’Connell, 2016). These two quotes tell about the relationship between western music and Turkish music, which was mentioned earlier in this paper, and also they exemplifies the nationalism in music as well.
To conclude, after 1923, Turkish music got affected by the western music and a new western-style music tradition was developed by this effect. In addition to that, it is evident that nationalist ideas had a huge effect on musical ideas in all over the world and also on Turkish music, which was the focus of this paper.
Haas, E. B. (1986). What is nationalism and why should we study it? International Organization, 707-744.
Lindley, M. (2011). Techniques of 20th-Century Turkish ‘Contemporary’ Music. İstanbul: Pan Yayıncılık.
O’Connell, J. M. (2016). Alaturka: Style in Turkish Music (1923–1938). London: Ashgate Publishing.
Stacey, L. (2014). Encyclopedia of Music in the 20th Century. London: Brown Partworks Limited.