A product of millennia of various regimes, movements of people and social shifts, Turkey's culture is one of dense, thick layers: Asia layered over Europe, Byzantine merged with Ottoman crossed with Anatolian, Middle Eastern mixed with Mediterranean, Muslim filtered through Orthodox Christian. Similarly, Turkish music is a swirling, dizzying array of sounds, with strong popular, classical, folk and religious traditions drawing from and originating in a host of influences, styles and eras.
Currently, all eyes are on Turkey as its people rise up against the government and the nation struggles to deal with this movement. Now, more than ever, is the time to learn all we can about this beautifully complex nation and its richly layered culture. Start with this introductory playlist of Turkish music, covering everything from dub-folk-rockers Baba Zula to "Turkish Madonna" Sezen Aksu, cutting-edge traditional clarinetist Hüsnü Senlendirici to hip-hop iconoclast Sultana, Sufi-inspired electronic-leaning composer Omar Faruk Tekbilek to the peace-seeking, meditative ney flutes of the Mevlevi (whirling dervish) tradition. Get to know this evocative, history-drenched musical culture. And make plans to visit Turkey in a more peaceful time: Like its music, the country will haunt your soul.