Music of Turkey

Music of Turkey

Concise guide to the Turkish music culture, learn what kind of music is popular in Turkey and what type of music does Turkey listen to.

Like in any other culture, music has been a big part of life for Turkish people. The music of Turkey was influenced by Ottoman music, Persian music, Arabic music, Balkan music and Greek music.

Today the people of Turkey listen to various different types of music. Even though the backgrounds of population varies greatly, there are some music styles that never go out of style and stay popular in Turkey. Some of them are traditional Turkish music, Turkish pop music and arabesque music.

Traditional Turkish Music

Traditional Turkish music carries the marks of vast cultural influences in Anatolia over the centuries. The traditional Turkish music includes Turkish classical music and Turkish folk music.

Turkish Classical Music

Turkish classical music is one of the oldest genres, dating back to 9th century. It was born in the palaces of the Ottoman Empire, entertaining Sultans and their courtiers. Today, Turkish traditional music is mostly enjoyed in meyhanes, a modern day Turkish taverns where groups listens to live bands and sing along.

Turkish Folk Music

Unlike, Turkish Classical Music, Turkish Folk Music was born from the social life of Turkish people. Turkish folk music follows the lives of the people and songs get their stories from them. Songs can be about anything from fear of separating from your hometown to a lover in prison. 

If are into Turkish folk music, Anatolian Rock Revival Project is a great YouTube channel for the avid followers of Anatolian Rock which is a subgenre of Turkish folk music.

Turkish Pop Music

Turkish Pop Music gained popularity by 1950s with covers of Western songs in Turkish. For decades, Turkish Pop was very popular among people, until another style called arabesque gained popularity in 1970s with more and more people from rural districts migrating to big cities. In 1990s, pop music gained its popularity back with stars such as Sezen Aksu, Sertab Erener and Tarkan. Sezen Aksu has a major effect changing the scene of Turkish music, as a songwriter and singer. Sertab Erener was in the first place in Eurovision 2003, and Tarkan is one of the biggest international stars from Turkey.


Arabesque music has gained popularity in Turkey in 1970s. With its dramatic style and lyrics, it resonated with many people who left their home to look for work in a big city. In the end, it gained enough popularity and was enjoyed by a big part of the population. The songs might be about unrequired love, cheating or basically anything that can depress you. Some of the famous musicians of this genre includes Alişan, Orhan Gencebay and Müslüm Gürses.

Özge Erdem

Özge’s career goals changed big time during the third year of her major, when she realized she had no wish to be a chemical engineer. After traveling Asia and doing various nomadic jobs, she settled back in Turkey to start her dream job of building websites and copy-writing with her high school friend.

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