Mus2okur in the Press

Vatan newspaper, September 14, 2007

3 Vatan Haber 14 Eylül 2007

Click here to see a scan of the interview (in Turkish).

Music is a matter of math, not feelings

By Ayşegül Parlayan

Mus2okur is a multimedia encyclopedia of Turkish music. Featuring 1000 musical works, this software is the brainchild of not a musician but a mathematician, M. Kemal Karaosmanoğlu.

According to Karaosmanoğlu, who teaches music technology at Yıldız Technical University, the software replaces the traditional duo of "master-student" with "computer-student".

Do you believe music is learned through apprenticeship with a master musician or with notes and math? Karaosmanoğlu, Senior Professor of Mathematics, is in the latter camp. To prove his point, he has developed the software "Mus2okur". Thanks to this program, even beginners are able to get their heads around the rather complicated structure of Turkish music.

- Your education is in mathematics. How did you become involved in music?

I'm a senior engineer of mathematics and my master's degree was on system analysis. I'm not a musician but I've been interested in music since elementary school. Most software developers and music theoreticians come from a mathematics background. I've always seen a striking similarity between music and math. Currently I'm a part-time lecturer at Yıldız Technical University. I teach arithmetic of music, the physics of music and music technology. I also play the ud. To those who say "Turkish music is not a matter of calculations, the [musician's] finger simply knows where to go", I say, "no, I can analyze the ney taksim of a master. He might have played it 'from heart' but I can measure the sound. I can then reconstruct the sound on the computer via digital processes."

A database of compositions and lyrics

- So how did you come up with the basic concept of Mus2okur?

As I was thinking about the relationship between music and math, I noticed the lack of software suitable for transcribing Turkish music pieces. One can find at least 10 different software products for writing Western sheet music. Due to the differences between notationg Western and Turkish music, our musicians are unable to use these products. I first had the idea for this software 10 years ago. Upon announcing my first amateur efforts on our web site, there was considerable interest. Data-Soft Limited took up the project professionally as a service to the music community.

- In a nutshell, what is "Mus2okur", the multimedia encyclopedia of Turkish music?

Mus2okur is computer software that allows you to see the score and lyrics of around 1000 Turkish musical works and play these works with any instrument, in any tempo and diapason you prefer. You can also play or sing along with the software. It is possible to play any work in any chosen maqam. You can learn the fundamental concepts of Turkish music in the encyclopedia section. However, the software does not have functionality for writing music, hence its name Mus2okur [alternative spelling of "musiki okur"; literally "music reader"].

- Does this program target professional musicians only?

No, we designed the program for novices as well as professional musicians. People who have an appreciation Turkish music, hum songs at home or in the work place, will find a lot to learn in this program. Taking a step further, people can even sing along with songs in "karaoke" style. Those who play an instrument can learn to play the included works by studying the score and practicing the piece at first slowly and gradually increasing the tempo

- You believe music and math are similar...

Yes, this has been a subject of debate for centuries. Pythagor, who believed that numbers rule the world, claims music is also made of numbers. On the other hand, Aristoxenus, who lived in the same period and occupied himself with music only, states that numbers have no place in music, only the ear. Some of our own musicians have adopted a similar ambiguousness. They have an approach to music that stands at odds with scientific thought, with statements such as "You play it like you feel it" or "the finger goes to the right place by intuition". However, everything in nature can be described mathematically. "Yes, your finger intuitively knows where to go, but I can observe and quantify this process

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