Ottoman lady playing the tambour


This is a little known period in Turkish history, but it is certain that the pre-Islamic cultures and religions had an important role in the development of Turkish music. Especially mystical elements such as Shamanism, Manichaism and Buddhism and the epic song tradition were widespread in almost all the Turkic tribes during this period. Religious figures with a mission similar to that of the ozan, devoted to the Sky God, were known by names such as Shaman, Kam or Baksi. With drums in hand, they served as minstrels, religious figures and healers on the one hand; and on the other, used music as a vehicle to meet the social needs of their societies. In the abovementioned Turkic societies, these people were sometimes quite influential and thus directed the course of music. During the period when Turkic tribes began migrating to Maveraünnehr (8th and 9th centuries), a type of artist who sang to the accompaniment of the kopuz had emerged. Called ozans, brought with them the musical traditions and song genres, as well as the kopuz. Though we have only limited information on the music of the settled Turkic tribes such as the Huns, Uygurs and Göktürks, we know much more about the Turkmens, which were one of the migratory tribes. Constituting a significant section of the Turks within Turkey, the Turkmens act as a cultural bridge between the Turks of Asia and those of Turkey. As Turkic tribes heading westward from the 9th century A.D. on, starting with the Karahanlis, began accepting Islam, changes began to appear in their lifestyle and culture. Such a change in a society could not help but influence its music as well. Though the music continued in the Asian style, the influence of religion on the words continues to this day. However, the words reflect tolerance and the love of God rather than a hard, strict religious view.