How To Choose A Turkish Ney
The Turkish ney is an end-blown reed flute, the term is derived from the Persian nay, "reed.”, an Ottoman variation on the ancient ney. Together with the Turkish tanbur lute and Turkish kemençe fiddle are considered the most typical instruments of Classical Turkish music. Turkish Ney is simple in design, however it can achieve a range of three octaves. Turkish neys are divided into several categories based on length, and are capable of making lower tones than the Arab ney.
The Turkish Ney has seven finger holes, six on the front of the instrument, and one on the back. The thumb hole on the back is not centered, it is angled to the left or right depending on whether the instrument was intended to be played with the left or right hand on top.
A feature that distinguishes Turkish Ney from similar instruments of other cultures is the flared mouthpiece or lip-rest, called a Baspare- Bashpare, traditionally made of water buffalo horn, ivory, or ebony, but in modern times many are plastic or similar durable material. The Turkish ney is played by pressing the bashpare against nearly-closed lips and angling the flute so that a narrow air-stream can be blown from the center of the lips against the interior edge to the left or right, depending on whether the flute is left- or right-handed in construction. This technique gives a lower volume, but a better controlled sound compared to the technique used with the Persian ney or the Mongolian tsuur, which are played by tucking the mouthpiece under the upper lip and making contact with the teeth.
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Silver rings called parazvane are attached to either end of the instrument to prevent cracking. The lowest tones are called the "dem" (breath) tones. The semitones unique to classical Turkish music are achieved by opening some of the holes either half or one fourth of the way. Other semitones are achieved by a slight turn of the head.
Compared to most fipple flutes and reed instruments, Turkish Ney is very difficult to play at first, often taking several weeks of practice to produce a proper sound at all, and even more to produce the full range of pitches. A skilled ney player can sound around 100 identifiable different tones in a two-and-a-half octave range or more.
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Turkish Ney, together with the kudüm, are the two main instruments of Mevlevî music, but have been widely used since very early periods in secular music as well. There are several different sizes of ney, each with its own name, including (from low to high register) bolahenk, davut, sah, mansur, kizneyi, müstahsen, and sipürde. These names are used as tunings (ahenk) in classical Turkish music. Of the twelve sizes of neys, seven are tuned to natural tones, and five to half tones. The half tone of each of the chief tones is known as maybeyn. There are also neys an octave above the lowest register neys such as bolahenk and davut neys; these are known as nisfiye neys.
For further information please see our Turkish Ney Collection