Culture & Travel2 November 2020
As Turkey’s most cosmopolite city, Istanbul brings together street artists from all around Turkey and from other countries. As one of the rare cities in the world that managed to form its own music, Istanbul hosts artists of all genres.
Artists in the city meet on Istiklal Street, Beşiktaş Market, and Kadıköy Square. Many musicians performing in different genres invite you to their own stage as you walk in Beyoğlu. Blues, folk music, ethnic music, jazz, and rock tunes merge together. In addition to Turkish and foreign tourists, the musicians attract a great deal of attention from locals. These musicians add a significant flavor to life with their songs in various languages, diverse cultures, and never-before-seen music instruments.
Street Musicians who offer joyous breaks with various music genres for those dragging themselves to work in the mornings or home after a long workday, or who transform daily commute into a feast, without any charge show us Turkey’s rich and embracing culture. It is possible to come across Indonesians singing in their traditional outfits, Native Americans playing a native flute, Romans dancing to darbuka rhythms, and Black Sea natives playing “horon” to a kemancha. Musicians who came to Turkey from all around the world, including Macedonia, Iran, Syria, Ukraine, Congo, and France, wear their traditional clothes and sing songs in their native languages on the streets of Istanbul, almost in a way to create a seamless international festival.
By allowing you to listen to various musical instruments like santur, bagpipes, ney, kemancha, harmonica, tambourine, darbuka, and violin, these street musicians enable large masses to sing songs with one voice or play horon together to the sound of kemancha.
It is possible to classify these street musicians, who make hurrying crowds stop and listen, make them smile and dance, and bind them together free of all the distresses of the day, into several groups like trained professionals, those hitting the streets to make a living, those who play it as a hobby, or those who try to make some money to travel the world, or for other ends. Whatever the reason they play on the streets, one thing their music have in common is the will to “reach out to everyone”. Crossing street musicians on the streets of Istanbul does not surprise anyone anymore. There are even some locals waiting to see their favorite artist. Street Musicians share their music with you in exchange for a minimal amount of money left in their musical instrument cases, a warm smile, or even a candid “thank you”.