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A friend got me a CD of the Mehter when he was in Turkey. Wild stuff.
Mehter (Janissary) Music
Mehter is the indication of grandeur, splendor and magnificence in Turkish tradition; it is not a means of gaiety. The sublimity and celebrity of the State echoes with the boom of drums. Concepts of the unity of people and the loftiness of the state are very important in the state understanding of the Turks. Such beliefs and traditions existed also in the Turkish states before Islam and Seljuk and Ottoman states with minor variations.
There are three important symbols in this structure:
Otağ (large tent) is the place where the khan or the commander in chief resides. This occurs as a sign of war, because the otağ is established during only wartime.
Hakanın Kösü (Khan's Large Drum) is located in front of the khan's tent and belongs only to the khan.
Hakanlık Mehteri (Khan's Band) is the musical band playing under the flag and in front of khan's tent in order to encourage the soldiers.
The flag and the Janissary band are very important inseparable phenomena in the Turkish state. The otağ was left upon the beat of the Janissary band and the initial steps of war raids were thus taken. In the Central Asia traditions of the Turks, the ceremony of beating the Large Drum placed in front of the tent of Khan, who was the head of the state, at certain times of the day and showing his power was called as beating or knocking Nevbet (Nevbe).
Beating Nevbet was interpreted as the Khan's showing his power to the friends and enemies and particularly frightening the enemies. The Janissary band, which was maintained as a sacred asset like the flag in the Ottomans, besides being an important indicator of independence and state's existence, used to stimulate and excite the feelings, encourage the troops and moralize the army with the epic airs that it played and demoralize and defeat the enemy with the great boom that is caused in field battles, fortress besieges and sea battles during the attack launched against the enemy. In field battles, one single khan's large drum was a band on its own. The khan's large drum used to determine attacks and pauses and the Janissary band consisting of drums and pipes used to direct the army in war. Defeat in war was admitted upon the plunder of the Janissary band. Therefore, the most severe battles were around the flag and the Janissary band.
It is clear that the Janissary band was in some sense away from being merely a music group in the battlefield and its musical aspect was more evident during peacetime. During peacetime, the Janissary band was an indication that the khan's sultanate and the state life continued. Moreover, the drum and the band also used to perform information and announcement works of the state.
The Ottoman Janissary band consisted of aerophones such as shrill pipe, pipe, kurrenay and band whistle, and membraphones or patting instruments such as large drum, drum, timbale, cymbal and stick. The number of instruments was kept equal and the factor of the band was determined on the basis of such number. The Sultan's Janissary band, which was called “Tabl ü alem-i hassa” and was the greatest, had nine factors. This meant that there was nine from each instrument. This number later increased up to twelve, even sixteen. Besides the Sultan, the Prime Minister, Members of the cabinet and the Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs also had Janissary bands and Janissary bands used to work in various counties and fortresses of the country.
The influential power of the Janissary band was also assessed by the Europeans and Military Music groups, “Bands” were established in various European countries by taking the Janissary band as an example.
I saw them give a performance at the army museum in Istanbul a few years ago- very impressive! You can imagine the jannissaries advancing with determination to that soundtrack.......
I like to listen to my CD of the Mehter when I am working on my Orion Janissaries. Of course, this is not easy listening, it must be played very loud, like heavy metal or punk rock.
Is it worth pointing out that the lady of the house would rather I blast Motorhead?
This is primal stuff and imagine hearing these dudes
closing in nearer and nearer and the music getting louder and louder with masses of enemy advancing towards your defenses.A sure mess the pants recipe chuckle
Don't forget the Sultan's artillery batteries, which would have been positioned around the flanks of his HQ.
The Scots can't hold a candle to the Turk when it comes to intimidating military music.