Turkish music scholar and composer Mehmed Suphi Ezgi was one of the first theorists to attempt to place the tonal system of Turkish music on a scientific foundation. He was born in Istanbul, and died in 1962 in the same city. He studied medicine, and graduated from the Military School of Medicine in 1892.
He first showed signs of his musical talent at the age of five, where he was the hymn ldader at his neighborhood school. At the age of eleven, he began taking violin lessons from Tahsin Bey of the Istanbul Conservatory. He studied western notation with kanun player Hacı Arif Bey, and learned around fifty classical fasıls from Zekai Dede Efendi and Medeni Aziz Evendi. From Rauf Yekta he learned the very little-known Hamparsum notation. He took both viol d’amore and tanbur lessons from Abdülhalim Efendi, sheikkh of the Kozyatağı Rufai lodge, who also taught him religious and secular songs, and nearly 100 instrumental pieces. from Fahreddin Dede and Celaleddin Dede he acquired theoretical knowledge of the tonal system of Turkish music. These two Mevlevi sheikhs were very influential in his interest in musicology; with their help he also broadened his repertoire of religious music. Thus he learned an extremely broad repertoire directly from the masters of the period. Later he studied western music with Edgar Manas.
Ezgi examined the tonal system of Turkish music and the structure of classical pieces from many angles. Ezgi, along with Rauf Yekta and Asdettin Arel, was one of the first theorists to attempt to explain this system in modern terms. He rescued many pieces through his years of notation work, and transcribed pieces notated in the Hamparsum system into western notation, thus making them available to a broad public.
Ezgi tried to scientifically analyze the reason there are 25 tones and not 24 unequal intervals in an octave. Together with Arel, he set the standard for the notation system used today in Turkish music. For this reason this means of notation is known as the “Arel-Ezgi” system. Eliminating certain deficiencies and errors in the Ebced, Hamparsum and western notation systems, he brought about a unity in both the notation of pieces as well as music teaching. Foremost among his writings is the book, “Amelî ve Nazarî Türk Musikisi” (Practical and Theoretical Turkish Music).