The music of Turkey is wonderfully diverse, anddespite the historical presence of various political strategies and decrees meant to dampen down (if entirely not stamp out) individual traditionsthese rich styles have managed to survive and even flourish.
Classical music (called sanat or klasik) is one opulent strand of Turkish tradition. When the modern state of Turkey was established in 1922 by Kamal Ataturk, sanat, like many other aspects of Turkish culture (including the old language script used until 1928, which was borrowed from Arabic and Persian), was decreed "too Arab." Instead, Ataturk heavily promoted Turkish folk musicat least that of a particular strainwhich benefited the collection, preservation, and ongoing performance of folk music from the Anatolian region. In the late 1970s, however, sanat was officially revived as acceptable, and a state conservatory for training Turkish classical musicians was founded in Istanbul.
The various streams of Turkish folk music, too, have experienced the ups-and-downs of government sentiment. While Anatolian-style music performed on the extremely popular lute known as the saz or baghlama flourished under decades of official encouragement and widespread exposure on the government-sponsored Turkish radio and television, other styles, like the traditions of the Kurdish and of the Laz ethnic people, are far less well represented. A?ik, the music of the Alevi Muslim community (whose numbers comprise nearly one-third of Turkey's population) is its own tradition: one major style is mystical songs sung to the accompaniment of a single saz.
In terms of other religious music, the internationally well-known rites of the Mevlevi order of Turkish Sufis, whose brotherhood stretches back to the 13th century, has also experienced changing fortunes in the 20th century. While Ataturk closed the brotherhoods' meeting places, the government eventually allowed the Mevlevi"whirling dervishes" as they're popularly knownto perform as a tourist attraction in the order's home city of Konya. To this day, however, the Mevlevi order doesn't officially exist in Turkey.
Other Turkish genres include the restaurant and nightclub music called fasil, which is closely associated with Turkey's Roma (Gypsy) community; and the hugely popular arabesk, the country's most common pop style, which has roots in Arab raqs sharki (bellydance) music as well as Egyptian film music and pop. Anastasia Tsioulcas