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date: 19 November 2019

Janissary music [Turkish music] (from Turkish yeni çeri: ‘new troop’; Ger. Janitscharen Musik, türkische Musik; It. banda turca)locked

  • Michael Pirker

Extract

[Turkish music] (from Turkish yeni çeri: ‘new troop’; Ger. Janitscharen Musik, türkische Musik; It. banda turca)

The Turkish ensemble of wind and percussion instruments known in the Ottoman Empire as mehter, introduced into Europe in the 17th century and later imitated there using Western instruments.

The janissaries, the élite troops of the Ottoman Empire, were initially Christian captives recruited to form a new army after their conversion to Islam. The bands of the janissaries were called mehter, a term used also for some Ottoman state officials and thus taken to mean not just the bands but the individual musicians as well. The music of the mehter (mehter musikisi) was not written down, and consequently most information about it concerns the instruments on which it was played. However, the information given in the secondary literature about the instrumental make-up of the mehter has been contradictory and unsupported by adequate proof.

There is no definite evidence that what became known as janissary music began with the founding of the janissaries in ...

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