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The classical style: modal analysis of vocal improvisation in Turkey

O'Connell, John Morgan ORCID: 2015. The classical style: modal analysis of vocal improvisation in Turkey. Agayeva, Suraya, ed. Space of Maugham, Şerq-Qerb, pp. 124-139.

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This paper concerns the emergence of a new style of vocal performance in Turkey during the early-Republican period (1923–1938). Developed by the renowned artist Münir Nurettin Selçuk (1899–1981), the new manner of vocal rendition was considered to be ‘classical’ (Tr. ‘klâsik’) in style, a ‘western’ version of an‘eastern’ tradition (then called: ‘alaturka’) suited to the modernist ideals and the ‘westernizing’ aspirations of the Turkish Republic (founded in 1923). In this paper, the author provides a representative example of the ‘classical’ style. Focusing on a vocal improvisation (gazel) by Selçuk, the author analyses the modal characteristics and the stylistic attributes of a gazel in the makam Nihavend entitled: ‘L’âl Olusun’ by the Ottoman poet Nâcî (1850–1893). Selçuk demonstrates both a traditional knowledge of mode (makam) and a non-traditional interpretation of style (tavır). The paper foregrounds his innovative approach to modal exegesis especially from the perspectives of textual articulation and programmatic embellishment. His close relationship with the instrumental accompanist on the recording, the tanburî Mesut Cemil Tel (1902–1963) is also examined. Through the analysis of ornamental motifs and cadential flourishes in the gazel recording, the author demonstrates how the artist created his version of the ‘classical’ in Turkish classical music.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alafranga, Alaturka, Bel Canto, classical, classicism, gazel, L’âl Olursun, Mesut Cemil Tel, Münir Nurettin Selçuk, Sahibinin Sesi, Turkish classical music
Publisher: Şerq-Qerb
ISBN: 978-9952-498-82-0
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 06:59

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