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Song cycle: the life and death of the Turkish gazel: a review essay [Musical Recordings Review]

O'Connell, John Morgan ORCID: 2003. Song cycle: the life and death of the Turkish gazel: a review essay [Musical Recordings Review]. Ethnomusicology 47 (3) , pp. 399-414. 10.2307/3113948

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The gazel is dead. Or is it? The apparent demise of this improvised genre in Turkish Art Music (Turk Sanat Mizigi) during the twentieth century is linked to the reform of Turkish vocal practice that attended the foundation of the Turkish Republic. In this respect, the gazel provided a locus for defining and debating acceptable modes of musical practice according to the westernizing interests of a Republican elite, an elite that was eager to dissociate itself from the cultural capital of an outmoded Ottoman past. At the juncture between national modernity and imperial tradition, the polemical debate surrounding gazel performance provided a neutral space for articulating political dissent during a major period of cultural change. While the gazel was considered in theory to have ended, in practice many artists recorded vocal improvisations during the period. These improvisations demonstrate explicitly the diverse styles of contemporary practice and indicate implicitly the complex textures of contemporary Turkish society. In this matter, the recording industry played a key role. During the past decade, American, French and Turkish record labels have re-released gazel performances from the early Republican period (1923-1938). This essay evaluates a representative selection of these recordings and examines the lifecycle of the Turkish gazel within that frame.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Music
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
ISSN: 0014-1836
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 06:59

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