About Ney

In this section, we will give you as much information about Ney as we can.

However, if you have any questions about anything not covered here, please do not hesitate to write to us.

Now let's take a look at the topics that we will discuss with you here;

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A Brief History of Ney


Ney: In some Turkish dialects it is called "nai", "nay", "gagri tuiduk" or "karghy tuiduk". It is a wind instrument made of reed reed.  Kaşgarlı Mahmut, in his work entitled Divân-ı Lügati't-Türk, written at the beginning of 11th century, explaining the Turkish culture and language, stated that Ney was used in the "Sagu" ceremonies, that were organized for "Erler", related to death, virtue and pain. "Sagu" ceremonies are also known as "Yug" among Turks. Sagut or Yağut, which were lementations sung in these ceremonies, called today "Ağıt". We can even say "Sagut" or "Yağut" have been brought to the present day as "Avut" when we associate it with the word "Avutmak", which means consoling. Since the sound coming out of Ney is very deep and impressive, we can understand more easily why the Turks blow Ney in these ceremonies.


Ney, thanks to Safavid Turkish dynasty and  Great Seljuk Empire, which ruled in Azerbaijan and Iran, has also spread seriously in Iran and took the name "nâ" or "nay" (reed) in Persian.

Ney, which has spread among Arabs by the influence of Mamluks, Ayyubids, Seljuks and Ottomans, is also named with the word "mizmâr" (meaning windpipe), which is used for almost all Arabic wind instruments.

In Turkey, Azerbaijan and Crimea it has always referred as Ney.

Ney spread to Balkans by Ottoman influence; and called "Ney" by Bosnian, Croatian, Greek, Macedonian and Albanians, "Nai" by Serbs and Bulgarians, and "Nayu" in Romania.


The most primitive form of the ney instrument was first used in history in the Sumerian society. It is thought to have been used since 5000 years.  The oldest ney found is what remains from 3000-2800 BC is what is exhibited in the Philadelphia University Museum in America today. It is thought that the instrument was  used in religious ceremonies in those times.

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Kargı Reeds at field (Arundo Donax)


Ney Today

Today, "Ney" is known as Turkish instrument. Translated as English Turkish Flute and German Türkische Flöte, Ney is known in almost all world languages with its Turkish flute equivalents.  

Ney is a primitive instrument… Therefore, it is not possible to situate and describe it in a single theory like flute, clarinet and other later systematized instruments. For this reason, Ney is learned completely and correctly only by working one-on-one with Ney masters through meşk.


Like all other musical instruments, the Ney has evolved. Turkish Neys have been revised in the last century. Kutb-i Nayi Niyazı Sayın is currently 94 years old and has revised his Ney instrument with a pitch shifting system. The current Ney pitch system and measurements belong to Niyazi Sayın.

Ney in Sufism


Ney has become a symbol of Sufi music. Instead of playing for a musical instrument, the term "blowing" is used for Ney. Blowing here has a figurative meaning. It takes its source from the fact that in Islam, Allah breathed into him when he created man. Another factor that enables one to be affected by this metaphor is; It is the sound of "Hû" when blowing the ney, just like "Tü" sounds when playing the flute and "Ü" sounds for the side flute. Hu means "he" in Arabic and is often uttered glorifying Allah.

As in other Turkish states from the Seljuk period, especially in the Ottoman period, in Tekke and Dergah where everyone was a regular according to their own disposition, thanks to the rosary, dhikr or semah performed in the written field, a Tekke Literature was formed in Turkish Music, accompanied by instruments. The meşks in the rosary, dhikr and semah rites have created an attitude of Takke, and thanks to the progress made in the field of Sufism with the accumulation of centuries, Sufi Music was born alongside Sufi Literature. The ney, on the other hand, has become the main instrument of Sufi Music with the effect of being an instrument used in religious ceremonies since the first periods of its use. For this reason, Ney; Although it is accepted as an ordinary instrument in other societies, it has gained an otherworldly identity in Turkish societies and societies that have been heavily influenced by Turks in terms of religion and culture, and has been associated with religion and mysticism.

General Information About Ney


Ney is made from a kind of knotty reed called "kargı". The Latin name of this cane as a species is Arundo Donax. It grows in the Southeast, Mediterranean and Aegean regions of Turkey. In addition, ney reeds are collected from Egypt (around the Nile), Syria (around the Orontes) and Cyprus (from the south and north).

The ney, which is in various sizes according to its chords, consists of nine knuckles. There are 7 holes in Turkish and Arabic neys, six at the top and one at the bottom. Iranian neys have only 6 holes. The spongy part in the reed, called the pike, is emptied with burners that match the diameter of the knuckles in the reed, and the holes are obtained by drilling with a burner. In order for the Buselik (Natural Si) fret to be played properly, one more hole can be drilled at the bottom, so there are 8 holes.

Metal rings called "Parazvane" are placed on the ends to not to damage theends of the straw. Silver, brass or bafon (alpaca) metals are generally preferred for these parazvanes. An important part that facilitates blowing, which has been added to the ney in the last centuries, is the baspare. Başpares are made from buffalo horn, some hardwoods such as boxwood, and a recently popularized type of hard plastic called delrin, or even a mixture of epoxy. However, epoxy is a carcinogenic substance and should not be used, even though it gives a nice appearance to your thumb. Although materials such as normal plastic and PVC are used in the headpieces of lower quality neys, the first three materials are recommended for a professional. The material well as the reed used are also effective on Ney prices. The most important factors that determine the quality of buffalo horn head piece are that the horn was taken from a buffalo that died at the end of its natural life, that is, at the end of its natural life, that it is tight in its structure without cracks and breaks, and that it is carefully prepared and polished correctly in accordance with the dimensions.

For a ney to be properly tuned, it must consist of 9 knuckles and each of these knuckles must be equal to each other, which is rare to find in a reed. For this reason, ney makers adjust the tuning of the ney at the desired frequencies by using a method called shifting while opening the fret holes. For this reason, two works of the same kind do not match each other, and the tuning of the voice depends on the thickness and diameter of the fleshy part of the reed. Ideally sized neyme is very expensive and hard to find.  

Features to look for in a professional quality ney; It is characterized by the fact that the yellow bright colored surface of the reed is smooth and densely fibrous, not very thick or thin, the node lengths are equal and the node widths decrease proportionally from top to bottom. What is thick or thin affects the deepest, low tone, and the thinnest, high-pitched sounds.


In addition, the Ney is a fretless instrument and the note arrangement is made by sliding on the Ney. Because each reed is of different size and quality, it is impossible for a fixed pattern to be the same for each Ney. For this reason, it is very important that the master who plays the Ney is also a Neyzen. The master who opens the ney can only determine the right chord if he is a neyzen himself.


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Types of Neys


There are 13 main types of Ney. The main harmony and intermediate harmony (mabeyn) from short to long are as in the photo below. Ney lengths are approximate measurements. Depending on the diameter and volume of the reed, these ratios show positive or negative differences.
The longer the neys are, that become more difficult for the player to acquire sound, control it, and move the fingers easily by reaching the curtains. For this reason, medium-upper-length Neys such as "Mansur" or "Kız" Ney are recommended for a new beginner. The person who has mastered these Neys can easily be successful in shorter Neys. Today, "Shah" Ney is used as a solo by some master neyzins, "Davud" Ney is used very rarely, "Davud-Bolahenk" and "Bolahenk" Neys are almost never used.
Since classical Ottoman music performers usually perform in the harmony of "Kız", "Yıldız" and "Sipürde", the Neys in these harmonies are the most used.

In recent years, due the development of communication and transportation, the Ney instrument has also been the focus of attention by the westerners. Ney, the main instrument of the Sufi tradition, was learned in western countries only by foreigners interested in Sufi culture. However, in modern music performances, Ney has taken its place in western music and has reached the extreme point of Asia from South America.
Neyzen Sinan Söyler Ney Workshop produces all kinds of Turkish and Arabic Neys with great care.
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Use of Fingers and Sounds on Ney

Ney is a rich instrument in terms of performance and technically strong. Making a healthy sound from Ney is the first obstacle a beginner will encounter. After choosing right or left blowing depending on personal choice, it is a skill that must be acquired at the first stage for the neyzen candidate to find the appropriate lip position and blowing angle according to his / her lip and tooth structure by trial and error and to set this position to make a smooth sound. Therefore, should be focused on the sound of "neva" (Re / Sol), which is the easiest sound to make, that is, the lowest sound that can be made when all fingers are open. Later, the curtains were gradually closed and towards the peste "nim hicaz" (Do diez / Fa diez), "Çargah" (Do / Fa), "segah" (Si / Mi), "Kürdi" (Si flat / Mi flat), "dugah The sounds of "(La / Re) and" rast "(Sol / Do) should be fitted by blowing continuously, and should be made flawlessly removable in all cases. After this stage, the neyzen candidate can choose the difficult path and concentrate on the curtains called dem voices, which are called "acem aşiran" downwards, or continue to blow sound by adding high pitched curtains from "neva".

By closing the holes to a certain extent and turning the blowing angle in or out, intermediate sounds in the 9-comedic system in Turkish Art Music can be performed.

Ney performance becomes meaningful after eliminating technical difficulties that take an average of two, to four years, depending on the skill of the person. Because a neyzen candidate who has not overcome technical difficulties cannot be expected to succeed in advanced points such as voice color, musicality, nuances and ney attitude. Until this process is over, some easy-to-perform works can be studied as studies.

Ney is a fretless instrument like a violin; In other words, it can produce every frequency in between with the finely tuned movements of the breath and fingers. Those who do not good on listening will face difficulties to produce proper frequency efficiently. Therefore it is advised for someone who does not have enough knowledge and skills in music should definitely work under the supervision of an instructor.

Ney is a fretless instrument that can produce intermediate sounds. Therefore, besides Classical Ottoman Music, sound systems of many genres such as Western Music, Popular Music, Jazz Music, and Folk Music can be performed with the ney. Transposition in ney is achieved by choosing neys of different sizes according to the harmony (tone) of the piece or by performing the very difficult lip transposition of the neyzen. The sound width of the ney, which is 2.5 octaves on average, can reach up to 3 octaves depending on the mastery of the neyzen. However, before going into transposition, the sounds should be made exactly and correctly when you blow Ney. On Ney sounds are obtained from the basic sounds called dem ses and their derivatives. The holes, also called curtains, indicate the points where the breath will come out and determine the length of the air column inside the ney. According to the blowing intensity, many sounds are obtained in the order of the same pitch. In the lightest blow, first the sound itself or the basic sound, when blown more intensely, its octave, then the quintet of the previous sound and finally the octave of the same octave form the most used sounds. All the sounds that come out when blown louder than this should be blown upright as a pythagorean coma will give up. Thus, the sound field, which is two and a half octaves from coarse to treble neva, can be expanded to a point close to three octaves. While performing in the tampere system, methods such as half pressing the frets or changing the lip-baspare angle are applied.

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What is Combustion on Ney?


The sound of what becomes better when played like many instruments. However, this change in the timbre character is very evident in Ney. As it is blown, the inner part of the reed, starting from the first knuckle called the sound box of Ney, darkens over time. This phenomenon, called "burning", is caused by the acid in the breath of the neyz penetrating the inner surface of the reed and slightly oxidizing a thin layer. This happens in a very slow process and usually starts as a small stain, approximately 6 months after the Ney is blown. In the time that passes until this process is completed, that is, the whole interior of what is blackened, the sound of Ney gradually becomes different and gains an impressive character rich in burns and natives. However, those who are not masters of ney try to clean it by thinking that it is fungus-mold, which is very wrong, you will erase the harmony you have gained by blowing it.


How to Care for Ney?


It is based on ney cellulose made from pike straw. For this reason, temperature and humidity changes directly affect your Ney. Excessive dryness and excessive moisture damage Ney. For this reason, Ney is oiled. Moisture coming out of your breath can form a kind of fungus that we call mold in the Ney music box. For this reason, Ney should be kept in an airy environment. Ney can be bent or warped depending on the conditions. For this reason, it is important how you store what you are not blowing. Although rare, your ney may crack over time for any reason. Ney masters can fix them.


Lubrication is the most important maintenance rule. Oil; It protects the Ney by penetrating the porous structure of the ney reed. However, this oil should be a thin oil with a low acid value. Otherwise, the oil does not penetrate the Ney tissue as desired, and it also creates a layer on the Ney surface and this layer keeps more dirt.  For this reason, hazelnut oil, sesame oil, almond oil or corn oil are preferred. Rose and similar scented oils, which are used to give Ney a good smell, will make you faint after a while. For this reason, choose odorless oils. Apart from this, there is no special oil for Ney.

You should lubricate a newly opened Ney once a week in the first 3 months.
After 3 months, you can do this once every 2-3 weeks.
After 1 year, it is sufficient to lubricate once a month.
The more often you blow your Neyi, the less often it requires lubrication.
The best way of lubrication is to use Ney as an oil tank by closing the open side of a long and wide PVC pipe. Submerge your ney completely in oil and wait for 10 minutes. Then take out what. Hang it upside down from the Neva hole and let it rest for at least 4-5 hours for the oil to drain. If you do not have the opportunity to make such a tank, tape all the holes of your Ney. Cover the bottom with your finger and pour some oil from the jukebox. Move your Ney so that the oil reaches the entire inner surface. This method will also work for you.


How should Ney be lubricated?


What is Mold on Ney?


Ney can become moldy due to the humidity of the breath you blow, the humidity of the environment or if you keep your ney indoors for a long time. Do not confuse burning Ney and molding your Ney.

Mold appears as a dark, even cottony layer with a yellowish green edge and usually occurs on a jukebox. In this case, the Ney can be thoroughly washed with warm soapy water and the mold will be removed. Afterwards, Ney is left to dry thoroughly and oiled well after it dries completely.

Do not insert any hard object into the ney to clean it, as this can damage the music box and  knuckles inside, and it will destord tune. Keep your Ney in an airy environment to protect it from mildew. Do not leave it in humid environments. Never put it in its case immediately after blowing. If you are not carrying it somewhere, do not keep it in its case for a long time. Make sure that there are ventilation holes at both ends of the cover.


The Occurrence of Bending and Warping on Ney


Cellulose, that is, plant-based Ney can bend and warp if not stored correctly. Especially if the reed is cut before it is ripe, opened before it is completely dried, if it is less than 3 years old, the conditions in which it is stored may cause this deterioration. It doesn't make any difference in tuning, but it may disturb you visually. For this reason, the Ney should not be left resting on a place for a long time, if it is to be placed on a flat place such as a table, the head piece should be brought out of the table and the ney should be fully laid on the surface, and if it is on the side hanger, the hanger intervals should not be too narrow or too wide. Otherwise, the Ney will sag and warp. The best way to store your Ney is to hang it upside down from the neva curtain. Never try to correct any bending or twisting that may occur on your ney. You can break it.
If the bending and warping situation, which does not cause any problems in terms of sound, visually disturbs you, ask a specialist for help to fix it.


Cracking on Ney


Your Ney may crack for various reasons. If these cracks are not repaired, the cracks will progress and Ney may become unusable. Ney masters can repair these cracks according to the situation. For this reason, if you have a particularly good Ney and it has cracks, definitely give it to a master to repair it without neglecting it.