Step Out

Album Merve Salgar
Step Out is the collection of Merve Salgars favourite traditional Ottoman-Turkish love songs. The album contains a selection of simple and airy love songs from the early 20th century.

Merve Salgar plays the tanbur, a traditional Ottoman/Turkish string instrument, and is accompanied by Anil Eraslan on the cello, Taner Akyol on the Bağlama, and Ruben Tenenbaum on the violin. All of them are established Turkish musicians and have a passion for improvisation.

About Ottoman Turkish Music

Merve Salgar is born and raised in Istanbul and hence deeply connected to traditional Turkish music. She often steps out of her comfort zone, to push the boundaries of traditional tanbur playing techniques, while drawing inspiration from the instrument's cultural heritage, paying homage to history, while simultaneously defying the notion of preserving the past it as is. Her vocal performances, are one way she upholds tradition, though it is rare to see people playing tanbur and singing at the same time today. The album contains Salgars favourite 20th century Ottoman love songs, with a modern twist. The tanbur is a type of plucked, stringed instrument used in Ottoman and Turkish music, often played either as a solo instrument or as part of an ensemble. It is known for its rich sound, and its long neck can feature up to 48 frets. Depending on usage, the tanbur can have seven or eight strings, which allows for a wide range. Traditionally, the instrument is played using a plectrum made from tortoise shell, referred to as a "mizrap".

Ottoman-Turkish music originated in urban regions of the Ottoman Empire. It is characterised by a monophonic structure and based on Makam, a traditional modal system. Its influences are rich and various, manly Turkish, Arab, Persian, Greek, Jewish, and Armenian. These cultures co-existed under the Ottoman Empire, generating a rich melting pot.

The songs

The songs on the album were composed during the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the first years of the Turkish Republic. Most of the songs were written by women composers.

Kaçsam bırakıp send uzak yollara gitsem

Kalbim yanıyor ismini her kimden işitsem

Derdinle ufuklarda sönen gün gibi bitsem

Kalbim yanıyor ismini her kimden işitsem


If I run away and go to distant roads leaving you behind

My heart burns, whoever I hear your name from

If I end up like a day extinguished in the horizons with your sorrows

My heart burns, whoever I hear your name from.


Makam : Nihavend

Composer : There are two different rumors surrounding the composer of this song. The first suggests that the song was written by a musician from Izmir named Mehves Dolay. She supposedly brought the composition, which she had written when she was between 20-25 years old, to Istanbul and had it recorded at Columbia Record Company. The song was first sung on the record by Deniz Kızı Eftelya Hanım, but unfortunately, Mehveş Hanım's name is not listed on the record. Instead, the names of an Armenian and a male composer are listed on the record. During those years, it was not accepted for a woman to compose and distribute music, so she used a pseudonym.


According to another rumor, there is no female composer with the name Mehves Dolay. Instead, it is a pseudonym used by a cellist named Vecdi Seyhun (1915-1984), who composed the song under the name of his beloved aunt, Mehves.

Participating artists

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