Turkish Musical Instruments You Should Know

Turkey boasts a rich musical heritage, and its traditional instruments play a vital role in preserving and showcasing this cultural legacy. From the enchanting melodies of the oud to the rhythmic beats of the darbuka, here is a guide to some of Turkey’s most beloved traditional musical instruments:
Oud: The oud is a fretless, pear-shaped string instrument known for its warm and expressive sound. It has a long history in Turkish music, featuring prominently in classical, folk, and Sufi music. The oud is played by plucking the strings with a plectrum or fingers, and it serves as the backbone of many traditional Turkish compositions.
Ney: The ney is an end-blown flute made from a hollow reed. It is a central instrument in Turkish classical music and is revered for its soul-stirring sound. The ney requires precise control of breath and embouchure to produce its hauntingly beautiful melodies. It is often associated with Sufi music and spiritual practices.
Saz Baglama: The saz baglama, often referred to as the saz, is a long-necked lute with multiple strings. It is the quintessential instrument of Turkish folk music, beloved for its vibrant and lively sound. The saz baglama is played with a pick or fingers, and its versatile nature allows for both melodic and rhythmic accompaniment.
Kanun: The kanun is a plucked string instrument resembling a zither or a harp. It has a trapezoidal wooden body with strings stretched across it. The kanun is played by plucking the strings with special picks attached to the fingers. It is a prominent instrument in Turkish classical music and adds a shimmering, cascading quality to the compositions.
Darbuka: The darbuka is a goblet-shaped drum with a wide-ranging presence in Turkish music. It is played with the hands and fingers, producing a rich variety of rhythmic patterns and accents. The darbuka is highly versatile, providing the heartbeat of various musical genres, including folk, belly dance, and contemporary Turkish music.
Kemenche / Turkish violin : The kemenche is a traditional bowed string instrument with a small, pear-shaped body. It is played with a bow, and its sound is characterized by its unique timbre and expressive capabilities. The kemenche has a strong presence in Turkish folk music, adding melodic lines and improvisations to performances.
These are just a few examples of Turkey’s vast array of traditional musical instruments. Each instrument carries its own distinctive charm, contributing to the diverse and captivating tapestry of Turkish music. Whether you’re drawn to the haunting melodies of the ney, the rhythmic energy of the darbuka, or the soulful tunes of the oud, exploring Turkey’s traditional musical instruments is a gateway to experiencing the country’s rich cultural heritage.