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Forms of Turkish Folk Music

Turkish folk music can be divided into two most basic groups:

1) Folk songs (with lyrics)
2) Instrumental folk melodies

Even though such a division is valid, the Turkish folk music tradition is founded on songs. Consequently 95% of the existing repertoire is comprised of songs with lyrics.  The instrumental melodies occur mostly in the form of dance pieces.  From this standpoint, despite this division, the vocal pieces' formal structures and genres must be addressed together, because these genres contain the fundamental elements that determine the forms.  The word türkü, or "folk song," is a general term that applies to all melodies containing lyrics in the Turkish folk music tradition, with no distinction between forms.  Local terms are used for certain dance tunes and instrumental pieces.  Generally accepted to be derived from the word "Türk," the word türkü refers to the anonymous songs of the Turkish people.

Türkü lyrics generally concern a particular event; either one major enough to interest an entire people, or some local happening within a narrow environment.  Love, exile, death, going off to war, flood, wars, etc. are some chief examples.

In this light, it is possible to divide Turkish folk songs into two main forms and these are only translations of the literal terms in Turkish, and don't necessarily reflect length, or "brokenness" in a piece.

1) Uzun Hava ("Long air")
2) Kirik Hava ("Broken air")

1) Uzun Hava ("Long air")

Uzun Havas are free rhythm (parlando) pieces.  This form shows no regular rhythm, but rather is sung according to certain traditional patterns.  The term "uzun hava" is not in common folk use; more common are the names of particular forms of uzun hava, such as hoyrat, maya, bozlak, elezber, müztezat, tecnis, baraka havasi, gurbet havasi etc.

Types of Uzun Hava

HOYRAT:  Hoyrats are a form of uzun hava built on quatrains which often contain allusions and plays on words.  They are sung throughout Eastern Anatolia, Southeast Anatolia and Kerkük, which today lies within the borders of Iraq.  Hoyrats are referred to by a variety of names, some of which include gelin (bride) hoyrati, nöbetçi (watchman) hoyrati, muhalif (contrary) hoyrati, kesik (cut) hoyrat and muçula hoyrati.

MAYA:  The maya is one of the most common types of uzun hava in Turkish folk music, and is found in almost every region.  The uzun hava is sung in free form after an instrumental introduction, which may be rhythmic.  In between verses, the same instrumental break is played.  Most common in the east and southeast of the country, Mayas can concern any and all natural social events.

BOZLAK:  The word "bozlak" means to wail, to cry out, and bozlaks are a musical crying out, that does remind one of a wail.  In addition to being common in Central Anatolia, they are also sung in the provinces of Maras and Antep.  Taking A as the fundamental, their second degree is B-flat (half tone) or B 3-komas-flat (quarter tone).  The most common types of bozlak are: Avsar bozlagi, Türkmen bozlagi, Kirsehir bozlagi, Sekerdagi bozlagi, Kirat bozlagi, Katircioglu bozlagi and Aydost bozlagi

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