Artists, antagonisms and the ney in the popularization of 'Sufi Music' in Turkey

Banu Senay*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Following its successful marketing as a sub-genre of ‘world music’ in the mid-1990s, Sufi music has become a cover term to describe and publicize a disparate variety of musical styles in the Turkish popular music industry. In this article, I explore this phenomenon through the recent history of the ney (reed-flute), an instrument that has been re-contextualized as the acoustic and visual signifier of Sufism, and utilized to evoke feelings of spirituality in listeners in affirming the authenticity of the new genre. Musicians’ and recording studios’ sonic strategies for signifying and communicating a Sufi sound have not only generated new musical aesthetics but garnered both a global and local audience. They have also generated intense debates among musicians concerning the very existence of a thing named ‘Sufi music’ and the ney’s place in it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-69
Number of pages18
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2015


  • Globalization
  • Sufi music
  • Turkey
  • the ney
  • world music


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