Integrating Turkish: Beyond East and West: Developing and Documenting an Evolving Transcultural Musical Practice

  • Cakir, Nihat Argun (Researcher)
  • Farwell, Neal J (Researcher)
  • Hornby, Emma C (Researcher)
  • Jones, Simon P (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Bayley, Amanda (Co-Principal Investigator)
  • Reigle, Robert (Collaborator)
  • Ellison, Michael P (Principal Investigator)

Project Details


For composers in Turkey today, the urge to integrate the beauties of Turkey’s rich musical heritage into contemporary concert music has become almost an imperative. But differences in tuning, texture, and between oral and notated orientations to performance have presented seemingly intractable obstacles. This project systematises practical processes essential for the creation of a new, East-West strand of contemporary music and opera. It initiates cutting-edge research workshops in Istanbul, Holland and the UK to:
1. Train top-level traditional instrumentalists and singers in Turkey effectively to perform a new repertoire;
2. Train top professional Western singers in non-Western techniques and nuances of vocal production;
3. Develop approaches for modelling such music's impacts on Turkish and Western musicians’ adaptive processes in rehearsal and performance, and diverse audiences’ perceptions of such music;
4. Create an ensemble interface (including newly designed instruments) to increase capacity for merging sounds beyond levels now achievable;
5. Produce ground breaking studies on timbre to provide new insights into how sound is produced;
6. Establish a new template for mapping Eastern and Western tuning systems onto one another.

This research, together with an orchestration manual for Turkish sounds will comprise the core of a published team-authored e-book, Integrating Turkish Instruments and Voices into Contemporary Music (ITI), with included audio and visual examples linked as an online resource. Looking further, this project’s multi-modal, transdisciplinary approach also suggests a model for probing how the ‘free play’ of the imagination (Kant) possible within processes of art and its creation can provide metaphors towards understanding one of the most urgent and compelling issues of our time: how to transcend cultural barriers (real or imagined) that exist today.

Layman's description

‘Beyond East and West: Developing and Documenting an Evolving Transcultural Musical Practice’ centres on practical workshops that aim to integrate Turkish instruments and voices with a Western contemporary music ensemble (Hezarfen), culminating in two chamber operas. The project also comprises an ethnography strand that probes cross-cultural interaction taking place during the workshops, and a theoretical element that offers new approaches to conceiving tuning and timbre.

Key findings

Deniz Küstü (The Sea-Crossed Fisherman), Opera #1 involving integration of Turkish and Western Instruments and Voices, June 11, 2016, Istanbul
Effective start/end date1/09/1531/07/22


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  • Beyond East and West

    Simon P Jones (Invited speaker)

    12 Jun 2016

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in workshop, seminar, course