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"YEN?SES" OF MUSIC: WAS PROHIBITING ALATURKA MUSIC A RIGHT DECISION OR NOT?

Abstract

Author(s): nsal DEN?Z

The prohibition of Turkish Music (Alaturka) and the reasons for this prohibition in the early Republican era are the subjects of intense public debate today. In 1926, the first prohibition of Alaturka by the decision of the Fine Arts Commission (Sanayi-i Nefise Encümeni) resulted in the abolition of Turkish music branch in the first conservatory of music in Turkey (Dârülelhan) and prohibition of the teaching of Turkish music in schools. This decision of Commission was widely debated among the musicians of the period and by the people. These debates had received widespread coverage in newspapers of the time. Yeni Ses journal submitted a questionnaire in 1926 and published the opinions of the musicians of the period regarding of prohibition of Turkish music. The aim of this study is to evaluate how the decision of the Fine Arts Commission to proscribe the teaching of Turkish music in Dârülelhan and in other schools was regarded by the politicians, musicians and public of early Republican era, the consequences and effects of this decision on Turkish music. In this study, the historical method of research was utilized. The information and documents obtained were examined and described. Within the scope of the study, we reviewed 276 issues of Yeni Ses journal that were published in 1926 and kept in the Periodicals Section of the National Library of Turkey. As a result of the research, articles, news, interviews, and letters from the public regarding the prohibition in question, consisting of 1577 pages in total, have been examined and analyzed to reveal the widely publicized debate. In this study, the unpublished Ottoman texts of the important musicians, such as Rauf Yektâ Bey, Zeki Üngör, Halil Bedî, Refik Fersan, Ekrem Besim Tekta?, Dürrü (Dürri) Turan, ?smail Hakk? Bey, Zekâizâde Hâf?z Ahmet Efendi, Yusuf Ziya Demircio?lu and Mesut Cemil (Tel) have been translated to the Latin alphabet, and they have contributed to Turkish music history. The results from this study show that, in 1926, Alaturka was officially excluded in all forms; the teaching of Alaturka was proscribed in Dârülelhan and in other schools by the decision of the Fine Arts Commission; and this decision of prohibition divided the musicians of the period and the public into two groups- proponents of Alafranga (western music) and that of Alaturka. Exponents of the western music considered that Alafranga was the symbol for civilization and modernization; while Alaturka symbolized orientalism. Therefore, they considered that Alaturka could not represent national style (Millî Mûsikî) and that Turkish music should be reformed by combining western style with folk music. On the other hand, supporters of Alaturka considered that the exclusion of Turkish music was a crime and people could neither enjoy nor understand western music. They also suggested that the decision of the Fine Arts Commission was unilateral, that Turkish music cannot be prohibited and that this decision would damage Turkish music.

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