Kurdish music


Kurdish music in Turkey:

Traditionally, there are three types of Kurdish performers -- storytellers (chirokbej), minstrels (stranbej) and bards (dengbej). Many songs are epic in nature, recounting the tales of Kurdish heroes like Saladin. Love songs, dance music, wedding and other celebratory songs, erotic poetry and work songs are also popular. Musical instruments include the bloor (flute), ghol (drum), duduk (oboe), tenbur (saz), kamanche (spike fiddle) and zurna (wooden shawm).

The most frequently used song form has two verses with ten syllable lines. Kurdish music is characterized by simple melodies, with a range of only three or four notes, and strophic songs, in which an identical line of poetry and music occur at the end of each stanza. Music is modal, with its maqam (or mode in Arabic music) is called Kurdi and is known throughout the Arab world.

For most of the 20th century, Kurdish language songs were banned in Turkey. Some Turkish Kurdish singers, like Ibrahim Tatlises, sang in Turkish, while others violated the ban and fled to various countries, especially France. A black market, however, has long existed in Turkey, and pirate radio stations and underground recordings have always been available. Sivan Perwer, the most famous Kurdish musician, came from the Kurdish-Turk community. He came to fame in 1972 during a Kurdish revolt in Iraq, and became a superstar before fleeing to Germany in 1976.

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Ibrahim Tatlises

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