Microtonal Guitar Culture in Turkey

Güven U. Z. , Eren O.

Musicologist, vol.6, no.1, pp.1-25, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 6 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Journal Name: Musicologist
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-25



The main objective of this article is to analyze the development and the contemporary artistic milieu of microtonal guitar culture in Turkey. With a particular focus on the adjustable microtonal guitar developed by Tolgahan Çoğulu, we examined musicians’ experiences and the ways that they relate to this musical instrument. We used qualitative research methods and conducted in-depth interviews with our key informant and adviser Tolgahan Çoğulu as well as eight musicians who specialize in microtonal guitar. We utilized Bennett and Peterson’s definition of ‘scene’ to discuss microtonal guitar culture in Turkey. After briefly presenting the development of guitar music and questioning the nature of its representation in Istanbul, we analyzed the themes that emerged in conversation with the guitar players. We determined that our interviewees, who are educated, enthusiastic and committed musicians, are all influenced by Tolgahan Çoğulu’s efforts to shape the microtonal guitar world and are driven by their own artistic motivations. We found that musicians shared views on the innovative and promising qualities as well as certain live performance-related difficulties of this instrument including the need to hammer new frets for different tuning systems on stage and the necessity of sharing microtonal guitar music recordings or videos using new media technologies. Although musical pieces in the microtonal guitar repertoire are mainly rooted in Turkish music, many consider this instrument to be an attempt towards overcoming the generally accepted distinctions between Western and Eastern music. We aim to contribute to further analysis of this flourishing music culture through our discussions on future implications of the current situation and our projections for the growing interest in microtonal music in Turkey.