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Meanwhile, the janissaries, having assassinated one too many sultans, were outlawed and executed in 1826 — as were their mehter musicians.
The Zildjians lost a significant portion of their market.
Feldman said “are among the most complex in the world: cycles of 24, 28, 32 and even 48 beats.”It’s no wonder that composers like Gluck and Mozart wanted to emulate a Turkish style with busy, glittering percussion.
Precisely what Ottoman music they heard is an open question, though.
“Military music was a branch of their classical music,” Walter Zev Feldman, the author of “Music of the Ottoman Court,” said.
Although mehter ensembles were known in the West for playing in battle, they also performed courtly suites for its rulers, like those by Solakzade Mehmed (1592-1658), who wrote under the name Hemdemi.
By the mid-1930s, celebrities including Chick Webb, Buddy Rich and Lionel Hampton were coming to the Zildjian factory in Quincy, Mass., to pick out their cymbals, with help from Avedis’s fine ear.
(Some “had horns, others pipes and timbrels, gongs, cymbals and other instruments, producing a horrible noise and clamor,” reads a description of battle during the Third Crusade.)The sound quality of these boisterous instruments might have left something to be desired by the 17th century, an age of Ottoman musical refinement.
Those working in Zildjian’s shop produced cymbals for the mehter — monumental ensembles with double reeds, horns, drums and other metallic percussion that belonged to the empire’s elite janissary military corps.
The Zildjians likely also did business with Greek and Armenian churches, Sufi dervishes and the Sultan’s harem, where belly dancers wore finger cymbals.
Zildjian was incorporated in the United States in 1929.
But the company’s relationship with drummers, and drumming itself, dates back much further: 400 years to be precise, to 1618, when a secret casting process resulted in the creation of a new bronze alloy for the court of Sultan Osman II, the ruler of the Ottoman Empire.