About Ney


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 the 11th century, explaining the Turkish culture and language, stated that Ney was used in the ceremonies called "Sagu", which were organized for "Erler", and told about death, virtue and pain.

"Sagu" ceremonies are also known as "Yug" among Turks. In today's Turkish, we call the elegies of the verses called Sagut or Yağut, which are lementations sung in these ceremonies, "Ağıt". We can even say that the words "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 the Safavid Turkish dynasty and the 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 become widespread in Arab society with the influence of Mamluk, Ayyubi, Seljuk and Ottoman, is also named with the word "mizmâr" (meaning windpipe, vocal organ), which is used for almost all Arabic wind instruments.
Turkey, Azerbaijan and Crimea has always referred to it as Ney.
Ney spread to the Balkans with Ottoman influence; It is 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 generally used in religious ceremonies in those times.

Today, "Ney" is known as a Turkish instrument. Translated in English as "Turkish Flute", and in German as "Türkische Flöte", the Ney is known in almost all world languages ​​with equivalent words of "Turkish Flute".

Ney has become a symbol of Sufi music. Instead of the word "playing" used for a musical instrument, the term "blowing" is used for Ney. Blowing here has a figurative meaning. It derives from the fact that in Islam, God blew his soul into Adam while he was creating him.
Another factor that makes him affected by this metaphor is; "Tu" while playing the flute, "U" for the side flute sounds like coming out of the mouth, "Hû" sound from the mouth while blowing Ney.
Hû means "He" in Sufism and is sung by glorifying Allah.


Ney is a primitive instrument… Therefore, it is not possible to put it in a single theory like the flute, clarinet and other systematized instruments that emerged later. For this reason, Ney can be learned exactly and correctly only by working one-to-one with the Ney masters through mesk. Like all other musical instruments, Ney has evolved. Turkish Neys has been revised in the last century. Kutb-i Nayi Niyazı Sayın is currently 93 years old and he is a person who has revised the Ney instrument with the curtain scrolling system. The current Ney pitch system and measurements belong to Niyazi Sayın.

Arundo Donex Ney Reed

Kargı Reeds at field (Arundo Donax)


General Information

Ney is made from a kind of knotty reed cane called "Kargı". The Latin name of this reed as a species is arundo donax.
Southeast Turkey, grows in the Mediterranean and Aegean regions. In addition, Kargı reeds are collected from Egypt (around the Nile river), Syria (around the Asi river) and Cyprus (south and north).

Ney, which is in various sizes according to its chords, consists of nine knuckles. There are 7 holes in Turkish and Arabian neys, six at the top and one at the bottom. Iranian neys have only 6 holes. The spongy part inside the reed called pike is emptied with burners matching the diameter of the knuckles in the reed, and the holes are obtained by piercing with burners. In order to play the Buselik (Natural Si) pitch properly, one more hole can be drilled on the bottom side, so there are 8 holes.

Metal rings called "Parazvane" are placed on these ends in order not to damage the two ends of the reed. Silver, brass or bafon (alpaca) metals are generally preferred for these parazvanes.
An important part that facilitates blowing added to what in the last centuries is the great. Heads are made of buffalo horn, some hardwoods such as boxwood, and a type of hard plastic called delrin, which has become widespread recently, and even epoxy mixtures. However, epoxy is a carcinogenic substance and should never be used, even if it gives a nice appearance to your head. Although materials such as normal plastic and PVC are also used in the capitals of lower quality Neys, four materials are recommended for a professional.
The most important factors determining the quality of the buffalo horn head are that the horn is taken from a water buffalo that died at the end of its natural life at the age of 25, its structure is tight without cracks and fractures, and it is carefully prepared and polished in accordance with the measurements.


In order for a thing to be properly tuned, it must consist of 9 knuckles and each of these knuckles must be equal to each other, and it is very rare to find such a reed in the reed. For this reason, ney producers use a method called shifting to adjust the tuning of what at desired frequencies while opening the pitch holes. For this reason, just as two workers of the same kind will not match, the tuning of the sound depends on the thickness and diameter of the fleshy part of the reed. The ideal size of what is very expensive and very difficult to find.

What to look for in a professional quality thing; The reed is yellow and has dense fibers, it is not too thick or thin, the knuckle lengths are equal and the width of the knuckles decreases proportionally from top to bottom. What is thick or thin affects the thickest sound that it can descend, to say lowering, and the thinnest, that is to say, high pitched sounds.

NEYLER 2.jpg


Ney Types

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, the more difficult it is 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 "Girl" 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, "David" Ney is used very rarely, "Temple of David-Bolahenk" and "Bolahenk" Neys are almost never used. Since classical Ottoman music performers usually perform in the harmony of "Girl", "Yıldız" and "Sipürde", the Neys in these harmonies are the most used.
Due to the development of communication and transportation in recent years, the Ney instrument has been the center of attention by westerners. The Ney, the basic instrument of the Sufi tradition, was learned by foreigners who were interested in Sufi culture. However, today, ney has taken its place in western music in modern music performances.



Use of Fingers on Ney

Ney is a rich instrument in terms of performance and technically strong. Making a healthy sound from what 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. For this reason, it should be focused on the sound of "neva" (Re / Sol), which is the easiest sound to remove, 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.

Performing a work in ney becomes meaningful after the technical difficulties that take an average of two, three or four years to overcome, depending on the skill of the person, are eliminated. 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 know with their ears which frequency to remove will have difficulty. Since it is a difficult instrument to learn, someone who does not have enough knowledge and skills in music should definitely work under the supervision of an instructor.



What is Burning in 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.



Ney Care


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.


Lubricating Ney with Oil

Lubrication is the most important maintenance rule. Oil; Protects Ney by penetrating the porous structure of the Ney reed. However, this oil should be a thin oil with low acid value. Otherwise, the oil does not penetrate the Ney tissue as desired, and it creates a layer on the Ney surface and this layer holds more dirt. For this reason, hazelnut oil, sesame oil, almond oil or corn oil are preferred. Rose and similar scented oils used to give ney a nice scent will get you old while blowing after a while. For this reason, choose odorless oils.
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 ney, the less often it requires oiling.
The best way of lubrication is to use Ney as an oil tank by closing one of the open side of a long and wide PVC pipe. Dip your ney completely into the oil and wait for 10 minutes. Then take out what you got. Hang it upside down from the Neva hole and leave it to rest for at least 4-5 hours to drain the oil. 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 music box. Move your ney so that the oil reaches the entire inner surface. This method will also work.


Mold in Ney

Ney can become moldy due to the humidity of the breath you blow, the humidity of the environment or your keeping your ney indoors for a long time. Do not confuse Ney burning and molding of your Ney. The mildew appears as a dark even cottony layer with a yellowish green edge and usually occurs in the music box. In this case, Ney can be washed thoroughly with warm soapy water and the mold is removed. Then Ney is left to dry well and is well oiled. Do not insert a hard object to clean into what, this can damage the music box and the inside knuckles and distort the tuning. Keep your ney in a airy environment to protect it from mold. Do not leave in humid environments. Do not put it in its cover immediately after blowing it. If you are not carrying it anywhere, do not keep it in its cover for a long time. Make sure that the cover has ventilation holes on both ends.


Bending and Strain on Ney

Cellulose, that is plant-based Ney, can bend and warp if it is not stored correctly. Especially if the cane is cut before it is mature, if it is opened before it is fully dried, if it is younger than 3 years old, the conditions in which it is stored may cause this deterioration. It does not matter as a tuning, but it may disturb you visually. For this reason, Ney should not be left based on a place for a long time, if it is to be placed on a flat place such as a table, its head should be brought out of the table and what should be fully laid on the surface, and if it is on the side hanger, the hanger gaps should not be too narrow or too wide. The best way to store your Ney is to hang it upside down from the neva curtain.
Never try to correct the bending and distortion of your ney yourself. You can break it. If this situation, which creates no sound problems, visually disturbs you, ask a master to correct it.


Cracking on Ney

Cracking of your Ney may occur 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 a crack has occurred, definitely give it to a master to repair it without neglecting it.