İzmir Folk Music

İzmir, which is located in the westernmost part of Anatolia, has been under the influence of zeybek culture together with its neighbors Aydın, Balıkesir and Manisa. As is known, ''zeybek culture'' has emerged starting from the 16th century and flourished especially in the 18th and 19th centuries, during the period when the Ottoman Empire collapsed in terms of administrative, political, economic and social aspects. Starting from the beginning of the 19th century, the Zeybeks gave direction to the social and cultural structure of the Aegean region’s music, folk dance and dress tradition.

Many of the Zeybek dances are solo and performed improvised. The melodies are nine times. Depending on the speed of the tune, they are classified as slow, slower and vivid zeybeks among the people. It is performed in tempos between allegretto and adagio.

The sound field of the zeybek melodies of the Izmir region is above one octave and the melodies are adorned with adjacent frets. It follows a descending course. It has nine times (9/8, 9/16, 9/4) and the triad can be found at the beginning, at the end, or in the third group. (3+2+2+2, 2+2+2+3 and2+2+3+2). Zeybek melodies mostly decide on “rast, dugah and segah” frets.

Zeybek melodies are played with drums – double “zurna” (or clarinet) outdoors, and with “baglama” in indoor environments. In addition, it is seen that in our region, instruments such as “kabak kemane” (rebab), “üçtelli”, “dilsiz kaval” (a type of pipe), “çığırtma” (bone whistle), “sipsi” are also used.

İzmir has a multicultural structure. This statement is supported by the existence of zeybek melodies, as well as melodies such as “semah, bengi, mengi, and güvende”, and there are also melodies for requiems and homesickness. 

Some of the melodies seen in and around İzmir are: Abacılar İnişi Saatimin Gümüşü, Ak Çeşmenin Taşları, Bergama Zeybeği, Bir Ateş Ver Sigaramı Yakayım, Cezayir, Gerizler Başında Hoplayamadım, Harmandalı Zeybeği, İzmir'in Kavakları, Kordon Zeybeği, Koca Arap Zeybeği, Kozak Zeybeği, Köroğlu, Sepetçioğlu Zeybeği and so on.