>’Kitabu İlmi’l-Musıki ‘ala vechi’l-Hurufat’

>’Kitabu İlmi’l-Musıki ‘ala vechi’l-Hurufat’
Dimitrie Cantemir (October 26, 1673 – August 21, 1723)


Soviet stamp devoted to Dimitrie Cantemir, 1973 (Michel 4175, Scott 4132)A well-trained performer and composer of Ottoman music, Cantemir was also one of the most remarkable theoricians it had. His book, Kitâbu ‘Ilmi’l-Mûsikí alâ Vechi’l-Hurûfât (Ottoman Turkish for “The Book of the Science of Music through Letters”) which he presented to Sultan Ahmed II in 1693, not only deals with melodic and rhythmic structure and practice of Ottoman music, but also contains the scores for around 350 works composed during and before the time of the author, as well as his own, in an alphabetical notation system he invented. For some of the works, the scores presented in this book are the only surviving source and would have been lost otherwise. Some of the works are part of the regular repertory of Turkish music ensembles. In 1999, the Bezmara ensemble have recorded an album, Yitik Sesin Peşinde (“In Search of the Lost Sound”) from the Cantemir transcriptions using period instruments.[1]

The most recent publication of his abovementioned work, reprint along with complete transcription and explanations, is: Kantemiroğlu, Kitâbu ‘İlmi’l-Mûsiki alâ Vechi’l-Hurûfât, Mûsikiyi Harflerle Tesbit ve İcrâ İlminin Kitabı, Yalçın Tura, Yapı Kredi Yayınları, Istanbul 2001, ISBN 975-08-0167-9. Romanian historian and musicologist Eugenia Popescu-Judetz has numerous works on Cantemir, the most recent of which being a monograph (in English, also translated into Turkish): Prince Dimitrie Cantemir, Theorist and Composer of Turkish Music, Eugenia Popescu-Judetz, Pan Yayıncılık, Istanbul 1999, ISBN 975-7652-82-2.



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