Turkish ney

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This article is about the Turkish flute. For the Arabic version, see Ney.
Turkish Shah Ney

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.

Related instruments[edit]

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.

Noted recent ney players include Niyazi Sayın, Akagunduz Kutbay, Sadreddin Özçimi, Kudsi Erguner and Süleyman Erguner (torun).

Popular media[edit]

Ney Taksimi/Aziz İstanbul a composition by Münip Utandı is the most sampled Turkish ney song on the Internet, being sampled by several media. Ney Taksimi means improvisation at the ney instrument. The following is a table showing the songs that used the original sample.

Münip Utandı's Ney Taksimi used in various media
Artist Track Year Genre Album Link
Münip Utandı Ney Taksimi
Aziz İstanbul
1998 Traditional Turkish Folk N/A islesne
Tulku Spiral Dance 1998 World Season Of Souls youtube
Muslimgauze Turkish Sword Swallower 2000 Tribal, Experimental Sufique EP youtube
Karunesh Alibaba 2000 New Age Global Spirit youtube
Africanism Slave Nation 2003 Tribal House Slave Nation youtube
Christophe Goze Mosaic 2003 New Age World, Middle East,
India ANW 1052
Sergio Marques Morningside 2007 Trance Special Collector's Edition 2 beatport
King Mokka Léïli 2007 Electro House Léïli youtube
YOJI Sandwich (Nhato Remix) 2011 House, Techno, Hard Trance Sandwich EP youtube
BluSkay & KeyPlayer Giza 2014 Progressive Trance N/A youtube


  • 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

External links[edit]

See also[edit]