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 is an end-blown reed flute, 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. 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 on the front and a high-set thumb-hole on the back. A feature that distinguishes it from similar instruments of other cultures is the flared mouthpiece or lip-rest, called a bashpare, traditionally made of water buffalo horn, ivory, or ebony, but in modern times many are plastic or similar durable material. Like most rim-blown flutes, the Turkish ney is played by blowing a narrow airstream at an angle against the interior edge. Besides the finger holes, the pitch is altered by adjusting the embouchure, angle and force of the breath, with more forceful producing the higher pitches. Compared to most fipple flutes and reed instruments, the 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 a two-and-a-half octave range or more.


Ney come in many lengths, each producing a different key. Professional players usually possess a range of ney in different keys so they match to other instruments in an ensemble. In some Turkish musical circles, the "pitch" (akord) of a ney is determined differently. For example some refer to the note generated with all holes closed, meaning Davud would be in E, Bolahenk nısfiye would be in D, and Ṣah would be in F. In others, the pitch is determined 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. The lengths below are approximate, as it can vary somewhat due to the natural characteristics of the wood.

Name Tuning Length (average)
Bolâhenk E 52 cm
Bolâhenk-Sipürde Mâbeyni E♭ 55 cm
Sipürde D 58 cm
Müstahsen C♯ 62 cm
Yıldız C 66.5 cm
Kız B 71 cm
Kız-Mansur Mâbeyni B♭ 74.5 cm
Mansur A 78 cm
Mansur-Şah Mâbeyni A♭ 82 cm
Şah (shah) G 86 cm
Dâvud F♯ 91 cm
Dâvud-Bolâhenk Mâbeyni F 97 cm
Bolâhenk E 104 cm


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, Süleyman Erguner (torun) and Münip Utandı.

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 kaval) 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 is a panpipe rather than a flute, but may be related etymologically and morphologically.

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
Alexandre Bergheau & Geert Huinink Desert Wings (Original Mix) 2015 Trance Desert Wings 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]