Çengi music and Turkish Gypsy Music
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Gypsies specialized in in their own distinct musical domain as well as performing various Turkish music genres. Some forms of Turkish entertainment music such as the tavsanca and kocekce were designed to accompany turkish folk dances.
Köçek(1), tavsan and çengi(2) groups had singers, players and dancers of both sexes. Gypsy groups composed of two to seven musicians playing instruments such as clarinet, violin, cumbus (3), oud, darrabouka and in the Balkan cymbalon, perform for bachsjeez (tips) in cafes. Bellydancers in Sulukule, a district of Istanbul, are often accompanied by a gypsy combo. More sophisticated ensembles incorporate also qanoun and ney and play at nightclubs and private parties. Gypsy violinists, kanun players and clarinetists are widely renowned for their expressive taqsiems(4). Kemençe was frequently used in the performances of Tavsanca(5) as melodic and rhytmic intstrument.
Çengi dancers performed at the Ottoman court as well. Male çengi dressed up as women danced in the harem as well as their female counterparts. So çengi referred to male and female dancers.
The melodies of folk songs (köcekces, tavsancas and Rumeli turkuleri) were composed in the scales and melodic progressions of the classical maqam system. Rhythms varied from the classical aksak semai (10/4 beat), yürük semai (6/4 beat) to aksaq (9/8 beat a.k.a. karsjillama), türk aksagi (5/4 beat) and Devre Hindi (7/8 beat). Since many of these songs where highly appreciated at the Ottoman court and later by turkish classical music circles they became included in the programs of classical music concerts to bring some variety. Composers of Fasil, classical turkish music, wrote also light tunes in the kocekce and tavsanca forms.