As with the majority of folk music it tends to be a way to tell stories and this is no different for Turkish folk music or for that matter Turkish classical music. In the main these folk songs often tell of daily life either as a work song, telling a story, love song, or as a song to dance to. You will often find that the actual subject matter for the song itself is a reflection of the way that people live and work as well as the language they speak and their instruments. Folk songs that are known as ‘turku’ will reflect events and experiences of the Turkish people and will nearly always tell some kind of story. The story that they tell can vary but often revolves around love and emotions such as betrayal. For example this could be stories about a mother’s love or the love between two partners. When it comes to Turkish folk songs you will find that the region can often have a direct influence upon the songs as well. Songs that have originated from the Black Sea will in the main be lively and talk about customs specific to that area.
Turkish folk music can differ vastly as the livelier version which originated on the steppes of Asia is very different to the more sophisticated Turkish classical music from the Ottoman court. It is common for folk music to be passed down through generations rather then for the songs to be written down in any form. Ottoman military music is different to the traditional folk music but is played with kettle drums, clarinets, cymbals and bells.
Another part of the tradition of folk music is the different folk dances that have emerged. These will often have different characteristics depending on the region. In the main these are customary at weddings as well as during religious and national holidays. Perhaps one of the most well known of all these folk dances is the Horon. This is a dance that has its origins in the Black Sea region and is performed by just the men. Typical dress for this is black with silver trimmings and dancers will link arms and dance to a type of violin known as a kemence. Another dance performed with Turkish folk music is the Kasik Oyunu which is a type of spoon dance. Both male and female dancers can take part and will often be dressed in bright clothes and use a pair of wooden spoons in each hand.