Deductive projections in our recent music theory: Indicators of structuralism in Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory

  • Süleyman Cabir Çıplak Istanbul Technical University, Turkish Music State Conservatory, Department of Musicology, Maçka Campus, 34400, Beşiktaş, İstanbul, Turkey
  • Songül Karahasanoğlu Istanbul Technical University, Turkish Music State Conservatory, Department of Musicology, Maçka Campus, 34400, Beşiktaş, İstanbul, Turkey
Keywords: turkish music, music theory, arel, ezgi, uzdilek, structuralism, modernisation, postmodern


This article claims that, in Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory -which is the most common theory of Turkish music being thought, we can observe some apparent characteristics of structuralism. This article also tries to reason all the indicators caused to make such a claim. At this point, structuralism shouldn’t be seen as a philosophical movement or a thinking discipline, but as a way of criticism and is also a different methodology. As the name indicates, it is mainly about the structure and how it is organized. According to this assumption, each structure consists of sub-structures while the constituted structure is a substructure of a superior structure. According to Piaget, there are different implementations of structuralism in different disciplines; however, all of them contain two common aspects. First, structures are self-contained unknit which don’t need and reference outside. Secondly, each structure possesses some characteristics. Furthermore, Piaget tells that the concept of the structure consists of three key ideas which are wholeness, transformation, and self-regulation.
First and the most apparent indicator can be the anti-historical perspective of Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory against Turkish music. Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory treats the Turkish music theory as a timeless set of values. It is a fact that Turkish music has a vast amount of written literature that had been created in centuries. However, in the Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory, instead of using the accumulation of several centuries, their music theory tries to get its legitimacy only from maths, physics, and western music theories. Moreover, all happen in the time being. For example, they make a lot of detailed calculations about intervals nevertheless all these calculations have been made for almost two thousand years since the time of Ancient Greeks, then Islamic philosophers, etc. Furthermore, we can’t see any references to past resources.
Ignoring history is an obvious pattern in Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory. However, this doesn’t mean that Arel or other theoreticians are not aware of the history of music or history in general. In contrast, the theoreticians -specifically Arel,- are too much into history . Furthermore, many of the manuscripts we have come from these people’s libraries. However, their understanding of history is way too far from being pragmatic or result-oriented. Instead, they do the refusal of history by using the history. In other words, he makes the history of the music theory something abstract and unreachable to keep it out of a field of researching music.
As another indicator which is the outcome of the first one, Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory degrades the whole music theory into an acoustic and a mathematical engagement as we mentioned above. This approach assumes that Turkish music theory is a self-contained structure that can make itself possible. Furthermore, this approach also suggests that this self-contained unit is also capable of proving itself by using scientific disciplines and also Western music theory.
Focusing on another structuralist indicator in Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory, we see that they want Turkish music to be a sub-cluster of Western music theory, in other words, as a structure it is sub-structure of a bigger structure in the sociological environment. Even though this is an intention more than being a fact, this is what they want to achieve. In order to change the nature of the music, they inject imported Western music components into Turkish music to “change its DNA”. This effort is also supported by cutting the connection with the history of the music.
This theory somehow had become the one and the only system in the teaching and practice of Turkish music for some decades and all its assumptions which are mainly altered by the theoreticians had been regarded as the traditional theory itself. However, its existence is not due to its consistency or scientific provability but because of the necessity to survive in the free public sphere. Furthermore, the literature they created also constitutes a vast amount and it had been more systematic than their counterparts.
All in all, this finding makes it clear that today’s standard Turkish music education is not the direct legacy of what had been thought in the tradition itself, but a modified and a structuralized version of it combined with theoreticians’ ideological tendencies, personal world views and also social conditions of the earlier republican era of Turkey.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Süleyman Cabir Çıplak, Istanbul Technical University, Turkish Music State Conservatory, Department of Musicology, Maçka Campus, 34400, Beşiktaş, İstanbul, Turkey

He was born in Arguvan, Malatya. He graduated from Bogazici University, Management Information Systems in 2008, ITU Turkish Music master program in 2011 and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in ITU Musicology and Music Theory. He plays baglama and is interested in musicology. He works as a software developer.

Songül Karahasanoğlu, Istanbul Technical University, Turkish Music State Conservatory, Department of Musicology, Maçka Campus, 34400, Beşiktaş, İstanbul, Turkey

 Songül Karahasanoğlu is the author of Muş Türküleri ve Oyun Havaları (Muş Folk Songs and Dances), Müzikte Arastırma Yöntemleri (with Elif Damla Yavuz) (Research Methods in Music), and Mey ve Metodu (The Mey and Its Method) the only works of are kind currently in publication. She continues her research and publications in the area of Turkish Popular Music, Islam, and Music, Turkish Music, Music Instruments, Turkish Folk Instrument: The Mey.


Akdoğu, O. (1991). Türk musikisi Nazariyatı Dersleri. Ankara: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı.

Aksoy, B. (2008). Geçmişin Musıki Mirasına Bakışlar. Istanbul: Pan Yayınları.

Arel, H. S. (1948). Türk musikisi Nasıl İlerler. Musiki Mecmuası, 1(1), 3-7.

Arel, H. S. (1948a). Türk musikisinin Tarihine Dair. Musiki Mecmuası, 1(3), 3-4.

Arel, H. S. (1948b). Türk musikisinde Makamlar. Musiki Mecmuası, 1(7), 3-5.

Arel, H. S. (1949). Niçin Türk musikisine Taraftarım. Musiki Mecmuası(11), 3-5.

Arel, H. S. (1990). Türk musikisi Kimindir. Ankara: Kütür Bakanlığı.

Ayas, G. (2014). Musiki İnkılabının Sosyolojisi. İstanbul: Doğu Kitabevi.

Behar, C. (2008). Musikiden Müziğe. Istanbul: YKY.

Benson, D. (2008). Music: a Mathematical Offering. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Erguner, S. (2003). Rauf Yekta Bey. Istanbul: Kitabevi.

Ezgi, S. (1932). Nazari ve Ameli Türk musikisi - Cilt I. Istanbul: MEB.

Gökçen, İ. (2007). Rauf Yekta - Fransızca Musiki Yazıları. Ankara: Ürün Yayınları.

Gökalp, Z. (1923). Türkçülüğün Esasları. Ankara: Matbuat ve İstihbarat Matbası.

Hançerlioğlu, O. (2010). Felsefe Sözlüğü. İstanbul: Remzi Kitabevi.

Hançerlioğlu, O. (1972). Felsefe Ansiklopedisi - Cilt 7. Istanbul: Remzi Kitabevi.

Kotlu, E. (2007). (Doktora Tezi, Adnan Menderes Üniversitesi, Sosyal Bİlimler Enstitüsü, Sosyloji Anabilim Dalı).

Kutluğ, Y. F. (2000). Türk musikisinde Makamlar. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları.

Özkan, İ. H. (2006). Türk musikisi Nazariyatı ve Usülleri, Kudüm Velveleleri. Ankara: Ötüken Yayınları.

Öztuna, Y. (1990). Türk musikisi Ansiklopedisi Cilt I. Istanbul: Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı.

Piaget, J. (2007). Yapısalcılık. Istanbul: Doruk Yayınları.

Reichenbach, H. (2000). Bilimsel Felsefenin Doğuşu. Ankara: Bilgi Yayınevi.

Sarı, A. (2007). Ord.Prof. Salih Murat Uzdilek’in Ekrem Karadeniz’e Cevabı - 1948. Retrieved from Musiki Dergisi:

Timuçin, A. (2004). Düşünce Tarihi 3. İstanbul: Bulut Yayınları.

Tura, Y. (1988). Türk Musikisinin Meseleleri. Istanbul: Pan Yayınları.

Tura, Y. (2001). Kantemiroğlu Musikiyi Harflerle Tespit ve İcra İlminin Kitabı. Istanbul: Yapı Kredi Yayınları.

Turabi, İ. H. (2013). İbn-i Sina Musiki. (A. H. Turabi, Çev.) İstanbul: Litera Yayıncılık.

Uzdilek, S. M. (1977). İlim ve Musiki. İstanbul: Kültür Bakanlığı Yayınları.

Wright, O. (2014). Klasik Türk Mûsikîsi’nde Çargah: Tarih-Teori Çelişkisi. M.Ü. İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, 21(2), 81-104.

How to Cite
Çıplak, S. C., & Karahasanoğlu, S. (2020). Deductive projections in our recent music theory: Indicators of structuralism in Arel-Ezgi-Uzdilek theory. Rast Musicology Journal, 8(1), 2330-2347.