The Arabesk Debate
Music and Musicians in Modern Turkey
Reviews and Awards
"“Martin Stokes takes this contentious genre of music as his focus, and explores themes relating to music and the construction of social meaning. His fascinating and wide-ranging study is based on extensive fieldwork in Istanbul during the late 1980s. He draws on an impressive range of scholarly sources within the fields of ethnomusicology, anthropology, and popular music and Middle Eastern studies…. Impressive, intelligent, enjoyable and informative, a valuable addition to the small number of studies on popular music to be found within the field of ethnomusicology.”-Popular Music"
"“The volume offers far more than this account of arabesk. First, Stokes brings to his argument a considerable breadth of knowledge. This, in the first chapter alone, stretches from Adomo, through Hobsbawm and Ranger, Turino, Slobin, Signell, Farhat, Blacking and Feld to Chicha, Country and Western, and Rai… Apart from the description of arabesk, we are indebted to the author for excellent accounts of sema, Turkish reforms, musician identity, and the debated values of the sanat and halk repertories.”-British Journal of Ethnomusicology"
"“[A] subtle and thought-provoking study of the enormously popular pop genre arabesk…. Stokes has the rare ability to set small, even anecdotal cultural detail into a richly patterned context of great breadth. He circles around arabesk music in ever tighter spirals so that when we reach the heart of the matter we are amply informed and able to put the genre in perspective. Skillfully blending his own fieldwork experiences with the voices of Turkish musicians, he shows us how symptomatic-even constitutive-music can be of an entire society's cultural politics and dilemmas…. In this book it seems possible to combine a cultural studies eye for the larger system with the ethnographer's preoccupation for close observation and participation. Doubtless the book itself will now become an integral part of the controversy it describes, a process ever deepening the ethnomusicologist's involvement with the local society.”-American Anthropologist"