Crimean Tatar music of the Khan's period
Turkish miniature. Lions. Musicians before the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III. The beginning of the 18th century. Topkapi Palace Museum. Turkey.

Crimean Tatar music of the Khan’s period


Until recently, the music of the medieval Crimea in Ukraine was virtually unknown. However, Crimean Tatars have at their disposal classical music, which has a long history of development. For a long time, this music was absent in the cultural life of both the Crimean Tatars and the Crimea as a whole.

Crimean Tatar music of the Khan's period
Oriental miniature. Museum of Crimean Tatar Art La Richeze.

This was largely the result of the well-known tragic events of the late eighteenth century, associated with the fall of the Crimean Khanate and the catastrophic changes in the life of the peninsula and its indigenous people, which arose as a result. In the conditions of a deep demographic and cultural crisis caused by several waves of emigration, which not only undermined any cultural movement among the Crimean Tatars, but also threatened the very existence of the people in their historical homeland, the very conditions for the development of this music disappeared. This heritage has been forgotten, and for a long time – almost more than 200 years – the relevant traditions have not had the opportunity to develop. This created a huge vacuum in the relevant field and contributed to the formation of a misunderstanding of the issues of continuity in the development of Crimean Tatar traditional music culture.

At present, we can state with confidence that the Crimean Tatar musical classics, both performing and composing, do not begin in the twentieth century, that it has a longer history of development, which has its roots, at least in the era of the Crimean Khanate, about that today, unfortunately, we have a very vague idea. Some fragments of this heritage, its fragments have continued and continue to live in our musical culture, but in the form of folklore, and it seems somewhat unnatural (and unfair), requires its own logical explanation, and if necessary – change the approach to assessing the relevant musical phenomena.

One of the brightest representatives of the cultural history of Crimea is an outstanding ruler, a valiant warrior, a person of the broadest intellectual, political and cultural outlook (historical sources portray him as a generous patron of the arts, pay attention to his passion for science, including exact) – Crimean Khan Bora Gazi Gerai II (1554-1607, years of rule 1588-1596, 1596-1607). Until recently, we knew Gazi Hero II more as a brilliant poet, but it is interesting that almost all famous researchers of his diverse artistic skills appreciate the musical-performing and compositional talent of this figure much higher than literary and others, certainly calling him the first (!) some of the most famous Turkic composers of the XVI century.At the same time, he occupies a very honorable place among the earliest representatives of Turkic musical classics in general. If we add to this the fact of a significant number of works written by him, as well as the fact that a number of modes of traditional Crimean Tatar, and more broadly – Turkic classical music (with names that do not say anything to the current listener, names – huyuzam , muhalifiirak!) is a creation of Gaza Hero II, then we will see the image of a very significant person, whose scale can not fail to attract attention. We should add that, according to medieval historians, he perfectly mastered almost all the Turkic musical instruments of the time, most appreciating the tanbur – a stringed instrument. By the way, all preserved works (over 60) are samples of instrumental music. Samples of other genres,in particular his vocal works have not yet been discovered.

It should be noted that in the treasury of Crimean Tatar classical music of the Khan’s period there are works not only of Gaza Hero II. It is known that they wrote music (and some samples of this music have survived), in particular, and several other members of the Khan’s family. One of the nephews of Gazi Geray, the son of his brother Feth Geray – Choban Mustafa Ahmed Geray (d. 1629), as well as the famous Haji Selim Geray I (d. 1704), who ascended the khan’s throne four times.

There is no doubt that the Khan’s Palace in Bakhchisarai had a lively musical atmosphere, had its own musical groups, had its own tradition of making music and the corresponding composition. In short, the palace was the center of development of Crimean Tatar classical music culture.

We will add that members of the khan’s family were not only musicians themselves, but also tried to support the development of musical creativity in the country. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the name of the same Khan Haji Selim Hero I, who in all sources is characterized as a great patron, whose patronage was used not only by Crimean musicians, but also almost all contemporary Ottoman musicians and composers, and above all – the most famous name of Ottoman classical music Itri Mustafa Buhuri-zade (d. 1712). By the way, Selim Geray and Mustafa Itri, both poets and composers, wrote music, including on each other’s words, and these works have survived.

Crimean Tatar music of the Khan's period
Osman Hamdi Bay. Girls playing music. 1880 Pera Museum. Turkey.

Such an attitude to music was characteristic of the Crimea, apparently, not only of the ruling dynasty. We can assume that in this case they tried not to yield to the representatives of educated circles, as well as the nobility, whose palaces, no doubt, had their own creative teams and the relevant performing traditions.

In the music of the Khan’s period there were a number of different directions: classical (palace) music, secular in content, the centers of which were the Khan’s Palace and palaces of the Crimean aristocracy, religious music – religious-Sufi, developed in mosques, madrassas and Sufi monasteries, and , finally, Ashik music is a multi-genre work of folk performers – poets-singers-singers-Ashik. It is known that in the Middle Ages the Crimean khans used music for military purposes. ” Фра then played the trumpets of Afrasiab, after which the khan left to defend the castles of Or a thousand archers under the command of Nureddin Sultan, as commander of the castle, himself… to the sounds of tambourines and timpani performed with Ora in the field at the head of forty thousand troops ” (Celebi E. Travel Book – Simferopol: Tavriya, 1996. – P. 63).

“The khans received the right to own two bunchuks, two banners and flags, as well as a choir in which seven musicians play instruments of any kind. In the army, however, they are played on trumpets in the style of Afrasiab’s trumpets, which are remembered in the days of their ancestors, as well as on trumpets and drums such as those of Jemshid . (Ibid., P. 106).

« … At Crimea-Girey the Bakhchisaray palace became a monastery of muses and science, the khan surrounded himself with educated people a few hours before his death, feeling her approaching, he ordered a concert he had arranged in advance to begin . ”

Music has become an essential element of various theatrical performances, in particular, puppet theater (shadows) – karagez.

Interest in the art of music is observed even in religious (Muslim) circles, which, as we know, did not differ much attention to such arts.

Crimean Khan Haji Selim I, like the vast majority of his contemporaries – representatives of various creative circles (musicians, composers, calligraphers, miniaturists, poets, etc.), was a member of the Sufi fraternity Mevlevi (fraternity of the so-called “rotating dervishes”). comes from the personality of the genius Anatolian poet-mystic and spiritual mentor Jalaleddin Rumi (Mevlana 1207-1273). The place of music and poetry in the ritual of this fraternity was known to be extremely important. Moreover, the Mevlevi monasteries were, among other things, a kind of center for the development of musical art, performing, according to modern Turkish musicologists, the role of modern conservatories.

As for the music of Ashik, it will probably suffice to name only one of its representatives – a native of Kezlev (Gozleve, now Evpatoria) Ashik Omer (d. 1707), the bearers of the Ashik tradition, as well as the absolute majority. researchers, recognized as the first in a long line of Ashik not only the Crimea, but the entire Ottoman region as a whole (and this – hundreds and hundreds of names!).

Crimean Tatar music of the Khan's period
Turkish miniature. Lions. Musicians before the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed III. The beginning of the 18th century. Topkapi Palace Museum. Turkey.

One of the main genres of music of the Khan’s period is Peshrev (peshraf, pishrev, from Persian “pish” – in front, “roar” – goes), it is an integral part of the great cyclical form of traditional Turkic classical vocal-instrumental music “Fasil” and is performed at the very beginning of the cycle. The classic type of peshreva resembles a rondo-shaped form and consists of sections (episodes) – the so-called “khan”, after each of which sounds part of the “carpenter” or “mulazime”, which serves as a refrain. In the vast majority of peshrevas consist of 4 khans, although there are plays that have 2, 3, 5 and even 6 khans.

If in the first khan (exposition) the melodic pattern is maintained in a certain mood and tonality, then in the subsequent khans (development), developing or sometimes contrasting in theme, there are certain fricative and tonal deviations. Always performed without changes by the carpenter (refrain) returns the melody to the main key and the original mood.
A special group consists of Karabatak peshrevi. The main distinguishing feature of the plays, in the name of which the word karabatak is used, is the construction according to the formula “question – answer”, where the ensemble solo – beraber (jointly) is opposed to the instrumental solo batak, which sounds in unison.

The names of the peshrevas are closely related to the modes of Turkic music and often reflect geographical concepts (Isfahan, Shiraz, Iraq, Nihavend, etc.), figurative representations (Growth – straight, correct, Gulistan – flower garden of roses), real historical events (eg, siege and conquest Turkish and Crimean Tatar troops in Belgrade in 1595, etc.

Peshrev is preceded by Taksim (from the Persian “division”) – an improvisational form, which is performed in a free rhythm (ad libitum) with solo instruments, which emphasizes the peculiarities of a particular system and is accompanied by a sustained tone.

Taksims perform the function of a kind of prelude, and are also interludes that connect sections of a larger cyclic form of Fasil. In religious music there are only vocal Taksim.

Another form of classical instrumental music is Saz Semais. This form also consists of four khans and a carpenter.

The fundamental difference between saz semaisa and peshreva is the obligatory (with rare exceptions) accompaniment of the first three khans and carpenters by the usul aksak semai and the free in metro-rhythmic and temporal relation the fourth khan, which is usually accompanied by usula semai, yuryuk semai, and devry khin. Occasionally there are saz semais, where the function of a carpenter is performed by the first khan. In such cases, the number of khans is reduced to three.

Traditional classical music of the East is accompanied by certain ostinato metro-rhythmic formulas – usuls performed on percussion instruments. Usuli are divided into two groups: simple and compound. The simple ones include usuls, the metro-rhythmic basis of which is the sizes 2/8, 2 / 4,3 / 8,3 / 4. Compound usuls are formed by the sum of several simple 4/8 = 2/8 + 2 / 8,5 / 4 = 2/4 + 3/4 or 3/4 + 2 / 4,7 / 8 = 3/8 + 4/8 or 4/8 + 3/8 etc. Mustaches consisting of more than 15 shares are called large, for example: 20/4 = 4/4 + 6/4 + 6/4 + 4/4.

The peshrevas use usuls with constant and variable meters, which are combined into large cycles (24,32,48 and more shares) and have certain names – hafif (light), sakil (heavy), etc.

Crimean Tatar music of the Khan's period
Crimean Khan Bora Gazi Geray II

The musical instruments that were widely used in the Crimea during the Khan’s period include: wind instruments – zurna, tulup-zurna, kaval, nai (ney), kamysh-kaval; strings – tanbur, ud, rebab, kemanche, saz, santir; drums – def, dare, dumbelek, davul, etc.

Unfortunately, at present all this invaluable layer of Crimean musical culture remains practically unexplored. It is impossible not to mention the many theoretical problems associated with the perception and study of Crimean Tatar traditional classical music – starting with the peculiarities of its system of systems, instruments, forms, and others. Before us is a huge world, extremely bright and original, but completely forgotten, which requires a very special attitude. Including – and very serious educational training, up to the formation of the necessary research centers, as well as the opening of appropriate departments in music educational institutions.

The pride of twentieth-century Turkish literature, the eminent poet and diplomat Yahya Kemal Beyatli, remarks in one of the famous poems that glorified the unique beauty and sophistication of Turkish (Ottoman) classical music: “ He who does not understand our music will not understand us! ». In these words – the recognition of the extraordinary role of traditional musical culture in the process of forming the essence of national character, and, accordingly, the crucial importance of understanding the national musical classics for the correct perception of people’s culture from the outside and for self-awareness.

Time shows that the problems of traditional classical music become relevant, this music itself becomes relevant, you want to listen to it, you want to perform, study, and, moreover, you want to try to develop the traditions embedded in it.

The article uses materials from the book “Crimean Tatar instrumental music of the Khan’s period” / Editor-compiler J. Karikov. Foreword by N. Abdulwaap. – Simferopol: “Fate”, 2007

Dzhemil Karikov, “Crimean Room” № 51, 2016

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Dzhemіl Karіkov

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