Friday, June 11, 2010

Beating the Kos

It was the Turks who early on discovered the power of military bands to excite fighters while encouraging their warrior spirit, and to maintain discipline in unity during marches in times of peace. While the roots of this tradition reach back to the Hun Empire, Turks used music on the military field in an active and functional way. In particular, the morale of the army was boosted by the incessant beating of the large drum, "kos" (a large kettle drum) and by playing inarches.
A Chinese historian described a Chinese general who had come to the region of Balasagun to Central Asia while on duty. The general had brought an ensemble of Hun (Turkish) instruments to China upon his return and had them played at the palace. This proves that Central Asian Turks used military bands in centuries previous to the advent of Islam. Central Europe was introduced to the Ottoman military ensemble, known as mehterhane, in the processions of Turkish envoys. Due to the fact that this ensemble first appeared at German battle fronts, the name, "Yeniçeri mızıkası" (Janissary band) was adopted into the German language. German and various Central European rulers and princes had an incessant desire to have their own mehterhane, and attempted many imitations. Eventually this new kind of military band ensemble came as far as Istanbul. A French style banda (band) was first shown to Selim HI in Istanbul. The French diplomat Raymond de Verninac came to Istanbul in April 1795, The new things that he displayed as soon as he arrived attracted a great deal of interest. Upon his first visit to the Ottoman Sultan, his car was preceded by a band and a squad of French soldiers. The French soldiers had attached bayonets to the ends of their rifles, and the diplomat proceeded to the palace among this ostentatious crowd.

click and play!
The American record company, G.C.R. (Gramophone Concert. Record, which was later to take the name "His Master's Voice"), began to make recordings in Istanbul in 1900. The company's first recordings became available in 1903. At approximately the same time. the German company, Favorite, entered production- While Turkish musicians were hesitant to lend their voices to recordings during these years, minority artists of Greek, Jewish, Armenian and Roma (Gypsy) origins entered the studios and made the first 78 rpm recordings- Among the features which are striking in the early period of 78 rpm record catalogues and collections are the presence of works such as polkas, waltzes, and marches, and the ensembles that played them. The ensemble entitled Garde de S.M.I. Ie Sultan which is presented to music lovers is the "Mızıkay-ı Hümayun" ensemble. There were 33 single-sided records made between the years of 1904-1911. Of these, 24 were marches with the remainder consisting of popular music of the day such as waltzes and polkas.

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