The Turkish ney reed flute, together with the Turkish tanbur lute and Turkish kemençe fiddle are considered the most typical instruments of Classical Turkish music. The ney also plays a primary role in the music of the Mevlevi Sufi rites (semâ).
A rim-blown, oblique flute made of reed, the Turkish ney has six finger-holes in front and a thumb-hole in back. Using cross-fingering, finger-hole shading, and embouchure adjustment, the journeyman player can produce any pitch over a two-and-a-half octave range or more. Nearly all Turkish neys have a mouthpiece made of water buffalo horn, or sometimes ivory, ebony, plastic, or similar durable material.
Sizes range from the lowest Davud (in E, 95 cm long), to the highest, Bolahenk nısfiye (in d, 52.5 cm long). The low-pitched Ṣah (Shah) ney (in F, 90 cm long) is shown at right. The pitches in the previous sentence refer to the note generated with all holes closed. In some Turkish musical circles, the "pitch" (akord) of a ney is determined differently, using the note (perde) which matches A=440 Hz (diyapazon). This pitch is one note higher, e.g., Mansur being A/La rather than G/Sol. Note also that the lengths above are approximate.
The classical Turkish ney's closest relatives in other countries, the Arab nay and the Persian ney, do not use a mouthpiece, but rather blow against the sharpened edge of the tube. In Turkish folk music, one type of ney (dilli)(Tin whistle) has a fipple; the other type (dilsiz) is a rim-blown oblique flute, as is the Turkish classical ney. The Bulgarian kaval, a folk instrument, resembles the Turkish dilsiz folk ney. The Romanian nai—a panpipe, not a flute— may be related etymologically and morphologically.
One refers to a Turkish ney player using the verb üflemek (blow) although for all other instrumentalists one uses the verb çalmak (play). One might speculate that the ney's close identification with the Mevlevi Sufis might be the origin of this usage.
- Signell, Karl. "Meetings with a remarkable man: Neyzen Akagündüz Kutbay," Festschrift for Robert Garfias (in press)
- Tammer, Anthony. "Construction of the Turkish Ney," Turkish Music Quarterly V/4-VI/1 (1993)
- Erguner, Süleyman. Ney metod Quarto, 351 pages, b/w, color illustr., 2 CDs. ISBN 975-97801-0-0
- Ney/Nay Teacher and Performer
- "Construction of the Turkish Ney," by Anthony Tamer in TMQ
- "Construction of Turkish and Arabic Ney + music samples in Greece,"'
- Improvisation by Süleyman Erguner on Ṣah ney (excerpt) 00:01:58, 4.7 MB, mp3
- Turkish Music Quarterly contents
- NeyAtolye - Turkish Ney Flute Workshop, Izmir - TURKEY (English) extensive information about the Turkish Ney.
- NEYZEN, a useful resource (English)
- NEYYAPIM, also a useful resource (English)
- Neyforum, also in English (English)
- NEYDERGISI, The first journal only about NEY (Turkish)