On their second album, Ahenk Duo performs works by Tanburi Osman Bey, Tanburi Cemil Bey, Tanburi Refik Fersan, Dede Efendi, Neyzen Salih Dede among others as well as solo and joint improvisations. Program includes music from 17th through 20th centuries in makams Arazbar, Ussak, Sedd-i Araban, Mahur and Pesendide. Duo performs these pieces and improvisations masterfully in this second part of their journey of Turkish and Ottoman classical music.

Derya Türkan & Murat Aydemir

Ahenk Volume 2, Turkish Classical Music

Genre: Turkish & Ottoman Classical.


1. Arazbar Pesrevi – Eyyûbî Mehmed Çelebi (–1650?) 3:25
2. Müsterek Hüseynî’ye geçis taksimi – Joint improvisation, transition to Huseyni makam “Elem çekme gönül böyle kalinmaz” – Dede Efendi (1778–1846) 4:23
3. Ussâk Tanbûr taksimi – Improvisation on tanbur 2:43
4. Ussâk Pesrevi
Tanbûrî Osmân Bey (1816–1885)
5. Ussâk Saz Semâîsi
Neyzen Sâlih Dede (1823–1888)
6. Sedd-i Arabân Pesrevi
Tanbûrî Refik Fersan (1893–1965)
7. Müsterek Sedd-i Arabân taksim
Joint improvisation in Sedd-I Araban makam
8. Sedd-i Arabân Saz Semâîsi
Tanbûrî Cemîl Bey (1871–1916)
9. Mahûr Kemençe taksimi – Improvisation on kemence 3:31
10. Mâhûr Pesrevi Raûf Yektâ Bey (1871–1935) 4:23
11. Müsterek Pesendîde’ye geçis taksimi
Joint improvisation, transition to Pesendide Makam
12. Pesendîde Saz Semâîsi – III.Selîm Hân (1761–1808) 2:24


Recording Engineer: Cengiz Onural
Mixing & Mastering: Cengiz Onural
Studio: Aria, Üsküdar, Istanbul
Producer: Ates Temeltas
Graphic Design: Müjde E. Çapraz

A few words about Ahenk’s music...

Classical Turkish Music, Traditional Turkish Music, Ottoman Music or whatever else terminology is used, they all point to the phasing-by art of bygone days: a specific and a vast art of a vast empire, namely Ottoman Empire. In Turkey or elsewhere in the world, this music is regarded as an old times art and performed merely by experts of it and its followers are limited to knowledgeable people of that specific culture. The new cultural era of our days, which is western culture and its everyday life aspects, is taking over the traditional descendent. Not only the music changes in Turkey, but the language changes also, the culinary customs change also and so on... 

The Classical Turkish Music has a unique modal system, based on unequal intervals consisting an octave. This asymmetry of unequal intervals, once perceived by the listener creates its own realm and takes one to its far space of its own. However, it is not easy to comprehend and perform this music because of its asymmetry, which indeed gives its special color. Even in Turkey, these days there are not many musicians who would resist to modern behavior and perform completely out of well tempered, symmetric system and stick to the traditional one. Murat Aydemir and Derya Türkan do it extremely well and moreover, they do it in a synergy.

These two masters of our times, they keep the masters’ chain ongoing God knows how many centuries. Unlike their precedents, they have graduated from conservatory, which can be regarded as a criteria of academic universality and maturity, but on the other hand which does not exist as an institution in the tradition. But these two genius musicians have combined the power of the academic education and the treasure of the traditional one to one teaching method (which Turks call “meshk”). But they also added their soul and their rarely encountered talent.

Finally two albums they have recorded, Ahenk Volume 1 and Ahenk Volume 2 are two of more eligible, extraordinary and traditional albums of modern times in Classical Turkish Music.

Cengiz Onural

“This is classically beautiful music that in the hands of these two expert musicians is allowed to reveal its timelessness, while opened up for improvisation.”

Elliott Simon, All About Jazz
Read the complete review on All About Jazz website.

The Composers

Eyyubi Mehmed Celebi (? – 1650)

We have very little information about the life of Eyyubi Mehmed Celebi. It is speculated that he was a tanbur player. His 11 works have reached us via theKantemiroglu collection.

Hammâmîzâde Ismail Dede Efendi (January 9, 1778 – November 29, 1846)

Hammâmîzâde Ismail Dede Efendi was born in Istanbul in 1778. At the age of eight, he began his studies with Mehmed Emin Efendi and attended rituals at the Yenikapi Mevlevi Lodge. While there, he learned to play the ney, but gradually won recognition for his accomplishments as a composer and singer. In 1797, he became a Mevlevi and soon after was heard by Sultan Selim III, who called him to perform at fas¦ls at the Palace. With his sheik Ali Nutki Dede’s permission, he became a Dede in 1779. Dede Efendi’s music was well appreciated by Sultan Selim III and Dede Efendi often performed his works at the palace, and became a teacher at Enderûn (the palace school).

But soon Dede Efendi experienced many tragedies, beginning with the loss of his spiritual leader, Ali Nutki Dede. In 1807, Sultan Selim III was overthrown and killed, succeeded by Sultan Mustafa IV. The new palace introduced Western music and instruments, placing less emphasis on traditional Turkish music. However, during this period away from the palace, Dede Efendi composed prolifically, creating many of his masterpieces. This visionary composer eventually did return to the palace, but the climate was less amenable to his music, and in 1845 Dede Efendi left to Mecca on a pilgrimage where he died from cholera.

Dede Efendi is considered to be the most significant composer of Turkish music in the 19th Century. He carried on his forefathers’ work, remaining true to the traditional art, while composing many new pieces with previously unknown ornamentations. His mastery was not confined to a single form; religious works included ayins (rituals), ilahis and duraks; secular works included kâr, murabba, nak¦s¸, semâi and, of course, s¸ark¦s (songs).

Prior to Dede Efendi, the lyrics of most compositions belonged to Divan poetry (Ottoman classical school of poetry). Dede Efendi also used his own poetry as well as folk songs for the lyrics of his pieces. As a modal innovator, he created the Sultanî-Yegâh, Neveser, Saba-Bûselik, Hicaz-Bûselik, and Araban-Kürdî makams. While expanding Turkish traditional music with his secular and religious works, Dede Efendi also wrote pieces influenced by the Western music that he heard in the Palace.

Tanburi Cemil Bey (1871–1916)

Tanburi Cemil Bey was born in Istanbul in 1873 and died there in 1916. Tanburi Cemil Bey was an innovator – one of the most creative musicians and composers of his time. He was an accomplished player of many instruments including the tanbur, kemençe, lavta and violoncello. Even as a little boy, he exhibited an incredible uniqueness and proficiency on the tanbur. His style of playing and technique eventually become a school of Turkish classical music. Without making any changes to the characteristics of Turkish classical music, and remaining honest to the traditional structure of Turkish music, he developed an advanced style which proved his virtuosity both in improvisation and composition.

With their delicate structures, rich melodies and strong aesthetics, these compositions and improvisations evoke a uniquely romantic and lyrical feeling that are reminiscent of Cemil Bey’s teacher, Tanburi Ali Efendi. 

Whereas Haci Arif Bey expanded the aesthetics of Turkish vocal music, Tanburi Cemil Bey was a significant innovator in the field of instrumental music, both technically and aesthetically. His 100 recorded taksims (modal improvisations) on the tanbur, kemençe, lavta and violoncello provide evidence of his virtuosity and musicianship. He composed pieces in several musical forms, including pes¸revs, saz semais, dance tunes, songs and lullabies. Even though we have only thirty-five of his compositions, his recorded legacy of about one hundred fifty 78 rpm discs establish him as one of the most influential of Turkish classical composers. Modern day musicians continue to be influenced by these recordings, which survive in various archives.

Neyzen Salih Dede (1823–1888)

Salih Dede was born in Istanbul around 1818 and died in 1888. He learned to play the ney from his elder brother, the famous neyzen Sheikh Said Dede. He entered M¦z¦ka-¦ Hümâyûn as a ney player and worked there until his retirement. Salih Dede was a member of the Mevlevi tarîkat (brotherhood), and became neyzenbasi (lead ney player) in several Mevlevi lodges in Istanbul. He would himself eventually teach Hüseyin Fahreddin Dede, another great neyzen of Turkish music history. Salih Dede was also known as a composer. Twenty of his works are still known. He composed pes¸revs, saz semais, a few songs and one oyun havas¦ (dance tune).

Sultan Selim III (1761–1808)

Sultan Selim III was the thirty-first Ottoman Sultan. He also composed music and created a school of music, referred to as the “Sultan Selim III Period.” He was a member of the Mevlevi Sufis at the Galata Dervish Lodge. He learned from and was influenced by Sheik Galib Dede. From this friendship and influence, Sultan Selim III composed the Suz-i Dilara Mevlevi rite (ceremony) which is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Turkish music. He was also a ney and tanbur player. Sultan Selim III’s one hundred eight compositions are in the Turkish music repertoire.

Tanburi Refik Semseddin Fersan (1893-1965)

Refik Fersan, one of the most important composers of the last period of Turkish Classical Music, was born in Istanbul in 1893. His early exposure to music was through his father, who was a Hâfiz and a composer. Between 1905 and 1912, he took tanbur lessons from Tanburi Cemil Bey, and ultimately graduated from the Galatasaray Sultani School. After spending years in Egypt and Switzerland studying chemistry, he abandoned the University and returned to Istanbul to dedicate his life to music. He studied with Leon Hanciyan Efendi, from whom he learned the Hamparsun note system. Subsequently, Fersan became a tanbur teacher at Darülelhan (The Istanbul Conservatory). In 1923 Fersan became director of the National Turkish Music Ensemble, where he worked for a period of four years as a director and musician. In 1948, upon the official invitation of the Syrian Government, he went to Damascus to establish the Damascus Conservatory and to teach Turkish music there. Only 142 of more than 400 of his compositions have survived and have been released complete with their original notes. In addition to his compositions, Refik Fersan has revived long-ignored Selmek makam traditions.

Tanburi Buyuk Osman Bey (1816 – October 1, 1885)

Osman Bey was born in Istanbul. He is the grandson of the famous composer Numan Aga and the elder son of Tanbur player Tanburi Zeki Mehmed Aga. As a child, he was accepted to Enderun-I Humayun (Palace School). During his years at the school, he taught himself to play the tanbur. He gained his reputation first as a singer and later as a instrumentalist. He was a Mevlevi Sufi. Forty of his works have survived to the present day.

Rauf Yekta Bey (March 28, 1871 – January 8, 1935)

Rauf Yekta Bey was born in the Aksaray district of Istanbul. His father was Ahmed Arif Bey and his mother was Ikbal Hanim, the granddaughter of Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha. He was educated at Simkeshane Primary School, Mahmudiye Rusdiyyesini and Lisan (Language) School. He was very well versed in French, Farsi and Arabic. At a young age, he started to work at Divan-I Humayun as a clerk. Although his name was “Mehmed Rauf”, his calligraphy teacher Hattat Nasuhi Efendi gave him the name “Yekta” which means unique or matchless. When Dar’ul Elhan was founded, he became a teacher of Turkish music theory and history. From 1926 to his death, he worked at the Istanbul Municipality Conservatory Historical Turkish Music Tesbit (establishment) and Tasnif (classification) Heyeti (group). He learned music from Zekai Dede, Bolahenk Nuri Bey and Salih Zeki Bey. He studied old musicological texts and is considered to be the first person to establish the study of Turkish music. He wrote the books, Esatiz-I Elhan and Turk Muzikisi Nazariyati (Turkish Music Theories) and transcribed one hundred eighty works. Fifty of his own compositions have survived.

The Instruments


The Tanbur is a long necked, string instrument with the widest tonal range of any string instument indiginous to Turkey. It is played with a mI²zrab (tortoise-shell plectrum). Throughout the centuries, a variety of tanburs have been developed and used: Tambur-i horasan, tambur-i kebir-i türki, tambur-i rûd and tambur-i çirvinan. Today’s tanbur was first used by Dimitri Kantemiroglu (1673-1723) to document Turkish Classical Music.

The Tanbur’s body has a hemispheric shape and is constructed from mahogany, walnut, balsam, rose, chestnut, juniper and plane trees. Its long neck is fretted and is about 29-33 inches long (73-84 centimeters). The lowest string is played with the mizrab. The player plucks the strings, the vibration of which then causes the covered soundboard to resonate. The resulting sound is referred to as tannaniyet. A tanbur player moves the neck of the tanbur up and down lightly to produce different expressions and moods.

Today’s tanbur has eight strings. Four are made of brass and four of steel, which are thinner. Compositions are played on the two lowest strings, called yegâh. The traditional sound of the tanbur is achieved from the lowest yegâh string. The middle strings 3 and 4 are used as harmony strings as well as to achieve lower sounds than yegâh. The rest of the strings are used to produce harmony.

A tanbur can be tuned in a variety of ways. The classical tuning system generally used is called bolaheng, but the tanbur can be tuned to a specific makam or even to a composition. The classical tuning system can best be described from the base to the top: strings 1 and 2 yegâh (re), strings 3 and 4 kaba rast (sol), kaba dügâh (la), strings 5 & 6 yegâh (re), string 7 kaba rast, kaba dügâh, kaba kürdi, kaba segâh (re), kaba bûselik and string 8 for kaba yegâh.

Classical Kemençe

The earliest Turkish bowed instrument was called ikl. The Turks brought this instrument to Anatolia and in time it came to be called a kemençe,which literally means little keman (violin).

In Turkey, there are a variety of instruments bearing the name kemençe, including the Karadeniz Kemençesi (Black Sea Kemençe) and the Türkmen Kemençesi (Southeastern Kemençe) both used in folk music. The Black Sea Kemençe has a narrower body with a more rectangular shape. The instrument used in Turkish Classical Music is called Klasik Kemençe (Classical Kemençe) which has a wider and rounder body. All kemençes are played with a bow. Unlike the classical kemençe, however, the Black Sea kemençe is played while standing.

The classical kemençe has been used in Turkish Classical Music since the middle of the 19th Century. Especially after Tanburi Cemil Bey, it has become an essential instrument of classical music ensembles. This kemençe has three strings; it is placed on the left knee with its top leaned against the player’s chest. The strings are not plucked with the fingers but rather pushed with the finger nails lightly from the sides.