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Westernization

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With the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkey began to have more interaction and contact with the Western world. Especially western classical music was seen as being in accordance with the ideals of the Turkish Republic. Therefore the state gave financial support to symphony orchestras, and created its own state symphony orchestras. These orchestras still regularly play in the main cities such as Istanbul and Ankara. It has also been tried to spread orchestral music to the rural areas, but this resulted in tragicomic reactions from the public and a low attendance.

As a result of the Westernization processes, waves of new genres of music entered the country. In the ‘60s, for example, the rock revolution that took place in the world also affected Turkey in a local form. Efforts by artists such as Moğollar, Erkin Koray, and Cem Karaca all resulted in rock meets folk in Turkey. Barış Manço, who died in 1999, also managed to bring folk, rock and psychedelic rock together with extraordinary lyrics such as “Tomato, Peppers and Eggplant” or “Yellow-booted Mehmet Agha”. His larger than life persona and style made him loved and respected by children and adults alike.

Turkish musicians who synthesize Western and Turkish forms of music by using splendid lyrics and a good quality production have always been the ones who remain famous for decades. They have fans from all generations and are seen as powerhouses that inspire and help young musicians in their work. Some names include Bülent Ortaçgil, Sezen Aksu and the band Mazhar-Fuat-Özkan (MFÖ). Another decades-lasting name is Ajda Pekkan. She is known for her successful plastic surgeries, and although she is older than 60, she still looks like a young woman.

The year 1991 saw an explosion in Turkish pop music, due to the legalization of private TVs and radios. Almost every day a new artist came out with a new hit, and since the public was hungry for novelties, each one was received with great appreciation. This phase created a few long-lasting stars, but also many one-hit-wonder failures. Among the stars that still make music are Tarkan, Kenan Dogulu, and Mustafa Sandal. At the time it was all pop and there were very few alternative genres. For a large part of the educated people, it was not cool to listen to Turkish pop and they sought their refuge in “foreign” music. 

 

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