top of page


Ataturk's Music

During my time in the presence of the great ATA, one issue has always occupied my mind.

ATATÜRK has so many foundations in music and sings our songs very well, he even knows many music rules better than many amateur artists, for example, from Rast mode: (From Hâ Rast mode: (I entered Hâbgah-ı yare for the earth) From Uşşak makam: (Câna râkibi) From the maqam Nihavent: (Is language a pleasure in loving the one who does not love you), from the maqam of Şedereban: (Drink Bâde-i vuslat, from the bowl of fağfûr), From the maqam Hicaz: (The window is opened, Bilal boy) and his other favorite songs and folk songs do not need anyone's help. He used to read very well without hearing, and he would make taksims from these makams with his voice.

For example, one day they expressed taksim as follows: "Taksim is the expression of the artist's feelings outside of the rules of procedure and in compliance with the rules of mode."

I have not heard such a beautiful and concise recipe from many masters. (My note on this subject: ATATÜRK was an exceptional person, with his superior intelligence and genius, who could speak with knowledge on almost every subject, especially with that handicap nature that showed superiority of taste. The narrator must have made a small mistake in describing (taksim) here, as well as with himself. I remember we discussed the issue. (Taksim) is not a style of bur music performed outside of the rules of procedure, but a special dialect that is performed in free measures, such as (matla: ground, licorice, verdict) that is unique to the method and the rule. When he said, "I think he meant other than (rhythm-tempo), which is the main fundamental element in music. As a matter of fact, as I have mentioned before, they asked me the difference between gazelle and longhava, because of a long air I played in their presence, and they approved my answer.)

"One day, ATATÜRK came across an old lyric book. He asked us to steal many of the works in this book.

Since it is not possible for every work written in the lyrics books to be known and read without being studied, we tried to read the lyrics by adapting them to the method and maqam written in the book in order to save the situation. Immediately:

- He said wait, I remember this song, it was not like this.

We were in a difficult situation. Fortunately, they did not dwell on it, the book disappeared quickly, and we were saved from shedding the sweat of death.

Since this love, closeness and knowledge of ATATÜRK for our music aroused in me the disbelief that he studied music in his own way and at least continued to a musical practice in his youth, I expected him to convey a memoir on this subject, but it did not happen. I expressed this thought to the deceased Nuri Conker and Tahsin Özer, one of ATA's closest youth friends. Nuri Bey was satisfied with saying that he thought that ATA had made a mistake from Nuri Bey when he was a War student, while Tahsin Bey did not know anything about this subject, but that ATA had enjoyed listening to music at every opportunity since he was very young.

(My note: In a memory of Dr. Şükrü Şenozan (who was also a composer), one of ATATÜRK's frequent guests, when ATATÜRK came to İzmir as a young staff major (in 1913), he was accompanied by doctor Tevfik Rüştü Aras (later ATATÜRK's). 's foreign minister) and Dr. Rasim Ferit Bey, Şükrü Kaya (later ATATÜRK's minister of interior), telling that they gathered together at his house and made music until the morning, says: He was radiating the lights of knowledge and wisdom. He was telling about the government's misconduct, the dirty stages of foreign policy, the reasons for our defeat in the Balkan War, with a solid and clean faith. He was cascading with an outburst like waterfalls. Everyone was listening to him.

Music had fallen into an anthract (between chapters) state and was revived from time to time at his command.

The sun had risen. The beds were left intact, after breakfast, we left the house near noon, and I was delighted with this precious contact. My friends were also satisfied.

Years passed. I went to Vienna towards the end of the general war. At that time, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who had returned from Karlsbad to Vienna, entered the hall of the hotel we were in in June 1918. We stood up with the person I was with. During the introduction, looking at me:

- Doctor... Will we be able to create another musical world like in Izmir? he asked.

- Of course we do, pasha, I said.

It turns out that the night we spent in Izmir promised good news to the country and the nation for the future.

Those who were at our meeting that night, Şükrü Kaya, Dr Tevfik Rüştü Aras, Rasim Ferit Talay, Dr. Cemal Tunc, Cemal Şahingiray. This community was not forgotten by ATATÜRK, and remained as a sweet memory among the conversation when it came to time."

Neyzen Burhanettin Ökte, one of ATATÜRK's virtuous Turkish music artists, explained the following on this subject:

"Years have passed since then. I met the esteemed scholar Nail Bey, who made great efforts on the historical part of our music. Nail Bey was also one of the best students of Bolahenk Nuri. Did ATATÜRK have any studies on music? I asked him if he was knowledgeable about the subject. When ATATÜRK was a student, Bolahenk Nuri did not give lectures at home or in his home for fear of Abdülhamit's (Sultan Abdülhamit II). However, he would go to the homes of his beloved students and try to be useful to them. In the face of this situation, ATATÜRK's Bolahenk Nuri Bey did not teach. However, some memories and ATATÜRK's knowledge of music did not prevent me from doing research on this subject, because in the past, we could only play from which maqam a work was composed and from which fret it was necessary to play that work. ATA's voice is not enough for some high-pitched works and the pitch he reads comfortably He starts the work from the artist and tells us, "An artist should be able to play works from any pitch. Those who can't do this are not called artists" and encouraged us to steal from sheer curtains.


bottom of page