Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mehter - oldest type of marching band

When looking into Balkan brass bands, I read of their original influences from Mehter, an old ensemble type and musical genre from the Ottoman Empire. First appearing in the 13th century, these large ensembles of brass and percussion were military musicians (soldiers called janissaries) who entertained sultans and royalty in what is today Turkey and the upper middle-east. These ensembles and their musical style continued to be played for centuries, and actually influenced Beethoven, Haydn, and Mozart during the Turkish music fad of the Classical era (ex. Mozart's Rondo Alla Turca).

Today, the country of Turkey still has a military brass band that plays music of the Mehter as a matter of ceremony. It is regarded as a reminder of Turkey's historical past.

(representation of a Mehter band, called a mehterân)

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