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Turkish Culture

The culture of Turkey is a diverse one, derived from various elements of the Ottoman Empire, European, and the Islamic traditions.

The nation was modernized primarily by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. As he transformed a religion-driven former Ottoman Empire into a modern nation-state with a very strong separation of state and religion, there was a corresponding increase in the methods of artistic expression. During the first years of the republic, the government invested a large amount of resources into fine arts such as paintings, sculpture and architecture. This was done as both a process of modernisation and of creating a cultural identity.

Because of the different historical factors playing an important role in defining a Turkish identity, the culture of Turkey is an interesting combination of clear efforts to be "modern" and Western, alongside a desire to maintain traditional religious and historical values.

Turkish People

The question "Who are these Turks?" does not have an easy answer. During the Turn of the century Ottomans were a multination state extended to three continents. This page limits this problem to the borders of the Republic of Turkey. The location of the pictures are given with the name of the city or as a region, in the case the source do not mention.

The change in culture of Turkish people within the last century is very surprising. Today, Turkey might be the only country that contains every extreme depiction of east and west culture and many in between grey tones. Ottoman system was a multi-federation state that enabled the people not to mix with each other. From the cultural view point, balkanization was the end of Ottoman Empire. Turkish Republic adapted a unitary approach, which was forcing all the different cultures within its boarders to mix with each other under the name of Turkish. The mixing, instead of assimilation is the end result of many grey tones. 83 years of transformation undeniably produced many grey colors of east-west duality. These pictures should be taken as a proof achievement of Turkish democracy as a cauldron of ideas and representations.

Turkish Music

Turkey is a country in Southeast Europe and on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and is a crossroads of cultures from across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and South and Central Asia. The music of Turkey includes elements of Central Asian folk music, Arab, Persian classical music, ancient Greco-Roman music and modern European and American popular music. Turkey, rich in musical heritage, has developed this art in two areas, Turkish classical music (similar to Greco- Roman) and Turkish folk music (Similar to Central Asian). The biggest Turkish pop star of the 20th century was probably Sezen Aksu, known for overseeing the Turkish contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest and was known for her light pop music.

European classical composers in the 18th century were fascinated by Turkish music, particularly the strong role given to the brass and percussion instruments in Ottoman Janissary bands called Mehter who were the fist marching military band in History. Joseph Haydn wrote his Military Symphony to include Turkish instruments, as well as some of his operas. Turkish instruments were also included in Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony Number 9 . Mozart wrote the "Ronda alla turca" in his Sonata in A major and also used Turkish themes in his operas. Although this Turkish influence was a fad, it introduced the cymbals, bass drum, and bells into the symphony orchestra, where they remain.

Jazz musician Dave Brubeck wrote his "Blue Rondo á la Turk" as a tribute to Mozart and Turkish music.

The music of Turkey includes elements of Central Asian folk music, Arab - Persian classical music, ancient Greco-Roman music and modern European and American popular music. Two traditional genres of Turkish music, Turkish classical music and Turkish folk music, depend heavily on this rich musical heritage.

Turkish pop music boasts numerous mainstream artists with wide followance since the 1960s like Ajda Pekkan and Sezen Aksu, and younger pop stars like Sertab Erener, Tarkan and Mustafa Sandal. Underground music and the genres of electronica, hip-hop, rap and dance music saw an increased demand and activity following the 1990s.

Turkish rock music, sometimes referred to as Anatolian rock, initiated during the 1960s by individuals like Cem Karaca, Baris Manço, and Erkin Koray, has seen wide-range success and has grown a considerable fan base. A few of the more mainstream Turkish rock bands include Mor ve Ötesi, Duman, and maNga. Individual rock performers like Sebnem Ferah, Özlem Tekin, and Teoman have substantial fan-bases. Turkey also boasts numerous large-scale rock festivals and events. Annualy held rock festivals include Barisarock, H2000 Music Festival, Rock'n Coke, and RockIstanbul, during many of which internationally renowned bands / artists frequently take the stage together with Turkish artists.

In 2003, a Turkish singer Sertab Erener won the Eurovision Song Contest with her song Everyway That I Can.

Turkish Literature

The history of Turkish literature is traced back to Orkhon inscriptions. Most of the Turkish literature before the adaptation of Islam was verbal literature. With the adaptation of Islam, Turks were influenced with Persian culture and they developed literature using the Persian structures, such as mesnevi, gazel etc. With the 19th century and tanzimat period, artists began to use western structures. The republican period is dominated with western forms of literature.

Turkish Poetry

Poetry is most dominant form of literature in modern Turkey.

The most famous form of poetry is known as "Arkadanlar," which dates back to Ottoman times. Arkadanlar is one of the oldest forms of homoerotic poetry, in which the "lover" typically wrties a poem for the "beloved," who is typically a young boy. The most famous poem is Vahid ve Mustafaki or Vahid and Mustafaki, in which Vahid Pasha courts the affections of the young Mustafaki. Arkadanlar also typically has many Qur'anic themes.

An excerpt from Vahid ve Mustafaki

Dearest one, Sultan of my heart,

How I long for your young embrace,

Dear, To become one deeply with you

Dear, To feel you strong minaret,

Taller than Sultanahmet Mosque.

(Source: The Two Worlds of Esber)

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