SazIf a single instrument were to represent Turkish folk music it would have to be the Bağlama, sometimes referred to as the Saz.

The term “saz” actually refers to a family of plucked string instruments, long-necked lutes used in Ottoman classical music and Turkish folk music (Türk halk müziği), Iranian, Kurdish, Armenian music, and in parts of Syria, Iraq and the Balkan countries.

Quite a few people in Turkey can play the saz. People in the cities and villages play the instrument and sing common folk songs called Türkü (literally meaning “of the Turk”). Professionals also play the saz. There are professional Türkü singers, and some are professional electro-saz players.

In the eastern part of Turkey, professional and semi-professional singers called Aşıks (Ash-uks) write special songs and perform them in coffee houses and in other informal gatherings. The Aşıks are often self taught saz players, and they use the instrument to accompany songs they have written before hand or make up on the spot.