Turkish music for dancers

Turkish music for dancers

Gypsies of Turkey with Ahmet Kusgoz Ve Arkadaslari

Karsilema until you drop! This album is chock full of 9/8 rhythms played at different tempos (mostly fast), alternating with ciftitelli and other regional instrumentals. I regularly recommend this energetic and passionate album for dancers who want “real Turkish Rom” music, as it is readily available from online vendors in mp3 or album format.



Istanbul Oriental Ensemble

I love the amazing theme albums created by these virtuoso Turkish musicians, and they can be purchased or downloaded online from several websites.  My two favourite albums are their latest, Grand Bazaar (pictured here) and Sultan’s Secret Door. Gipsy Rum also has some wonderful tracks, but I’m ambivalent about Caravanserai (which offers Turkish interpretations of Egyptian and other Middle Eastern music).  There’s a Wikipedia article about the Ensemble’s leader, Burhan Öçal – and if you’ll enjoy innovative music blending electronics, jazz, and Turkish traditions, try his album with the Trakya All-Stars!



Any album by Mustafa Kandirali

Kandirali is a legendary Turkish Rom clarinetist, and I find it impossible not to be swept away by any of his taksim pieces. I’ve  just ordered his latest CD, with remastered tracks to celebrate his 75th birthday. Here’s an excerpt from the rootsworld.com website:

Kandirali’s Gypsy background lends him an immediate global outlook, and his undeniable skill on the instrument gives him the tool he needs to execute it. But he is not limited to any one genre. He has clearly absorbed a lifetime of jazz, Turkish and western popular music as well as the myriad styles of traditional folk music of Turkey, and he has developed an improvisational bent that is on par with any of the great American jazz men, with flourishes and attacks that would rival Miles Davis’ or John Coltrane’s adventures in sonic experimentation…Which is not to say he mimics any of his influences. The end result of this international background is a decidedly unique Turkish music, whether it is a traditional taksim, a çiftetelli (belly dance), a Gypsy song or a soaring original composition/improvisation.

How to make your husband a Sultan  This quote from cdroots.com says it well:  Yes, in spite of the horrendous cover and the dreadful title, herein lies some of the real deal, brilliantly performed ‘belly-dance’ music from the 1960s featuring some of the era’s most respected performers including Mustafa Kandirali, clarinet, and Ahmet Yatman, kanun. In the guise of that swing-era staple, the art of domestic seduction, and produced by and featuring the famous Turkish dancer Özel Türkbas (first brought to America to dance by Italian movie director Franco Zeferelli), this album originally sold 150,000 copies in the US (and a million in Turkey), spawning the craze for bellydance and Turkish music that continues today. If this had been released by anyone other than Traditional Crossroads, I would have ignored it.



Check out the Traditional Crossroads website for a wide selection of Turkish music, including more dance music for Özel Türkbas, Rom music by Selim Sesler, Kandirali and others, and extensive listings of contemporary and re-mastered historical recordings from Turkey and elsewhere.


This lively album features Selim Sesler (clarinet) and vocalist Brenda MacCrimmon, who originally hails from Toronto!  The extensive liner notes provide an informative introduction to Karsilama and other Turkish music in 9/8 rhythm.  The songs and instrumental tracks are diverse and very dance-able!