Traditionally, Ottoman (Turkish) music is divided into four parts: Türk sanat müziği (Turkish ‘art` music/ Turkish classical music), Türk halk müziği (Turkish folk music), military music, and religious music.
Turkish classical music started to develop in the 10th century and was characterized by the use of makam (rhythm) and the integration of makam-specific instruments. Instruments that are unique to this type of music include tanbur (lute), ney (flute), and kanun (zither). Although Islam does not encourage music other than the call to prayer (ezan), and while it is not the music of the common people, this genre of music has always been an essential part of the sultans’ palaces and sophisticated families. Only later did it also become part of the common people’s daily lives, and this remained the case until the late 20th century. Due to globalization and the emergence of previously non-existent genres in the national music scene, Turkish classical music soon lost the limelight it once thrived on. Some 20th century singers of Türk sanat müziği include Müzeyyen Senar, Zeki Müren and Bülent Ersoy. These artists are usually all worshipped by the general public.
Turkish folk music is a genre that is traditionally enjoyed by less-educated people. It is not very sophisticated in terms of musical arrangements, but the emphasis is on the words and the mood, conveying such emotions as sadness, glee, and loss, but also celebration and many others. Folk music differs greatly from region to region, from Black Sea folk music to Aegean folk music. Locals of each region take great pride in their folk music, and loudly show their appreciation wherever it is played. The genre’s instruments are also unique to their region, and include the saz, bağlama and kemençe.
Military music has a very long established tradition, originating in the Mehter Takımı (the official Ottoman army band), that accompanied the Ottoman army to wars in order to encourage them. Turks take great pride in this band, and consider it a fact that this was the first military band in the world.
Another branch of traditional music is Sufi music. This music is played in order for people to reach the way of God. The vital instrument of this genre is the ney.