Ottoman Military Band, ”Mehter”
Mehter or Mehteran ( Ottoman military band ), regarded as the beginning of the history of military music also the founder of world’s military music bands used to motivate the public in the time of peace and used to encourage ottoman soldiers by demoralizing their enemies in the battles.
They used to line up in the form of a crescent. The term “mehter” also gets its actual origin from that array; in the language of Ottoman Empire,”mehter” means crescent. “Mehteran” is the plural form. The band’s members had a specific type of walking. They stepped slowly and chanted, “Generous God, merciful God .” At every 3 steps, they would stop and turn first right then left. Their form of walking symbolizes the Ottoman’s dignity and caution.
History Of Ottoman Military Mehteran Band
It is considered that the earliest mehter was sent to the founder of Ottoman Empire, Osman Ghazi by the Seljuk Sultan Alaeddin Keykubad as being a present together with a message that salutes the newly established state.
Due to the fact that that there wasn’t enough interest from Turkish soldiers, the members of mehter were dominantly included Christians brought up by the Janissaries or Greeks and Armenians that converted. The Ottoman Sultans’ personal mehter used to play in the front of the “Bâbüsselâm,” the middle gate of Topkapi Palace. In the regulation of Mehmet the Second the band was ordered to perform 3 times every night for prayer except Friday and in the mid-morning to wake the residents of the Topkapi Palace for the prayer. Besides that, the band performed in times of religious festivals, wedding ceremonies and the Friday prayer, together with victory and other ceremonies.
As the Janissaries were discarded in the 19th Century, the band was also dispersed. As a replacement, a Western type “Mızıka-i Hümayun” ( military band ) was founded.
Instruments of Military Band
The traditional musical instruments used by the military band were;
Western composers, including Mozart, Haydn, Gluck, and Beethoven, were not unfamiliar with the mehter’s melodies. Influenced by traditional Ottoman music, they composed the well-known Turkish marches like “Alla Turca” by Mozart. Mehter Band has given numerous concerts all over the world and captivated worldwide listeners.
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