Mus2okur in the Press

Milliyet newspaper, Sunday supplement, May 18, 2008

Milliyet gazetesi Pazar eki

Click here to see a scan of the interview.

Music lends itself to math

By Asu Maro

Mus2okur is a multimedia encyclopedia that allows one to learn Turkish music with all of its maqams, forms and notation with audio and visual tools.

Those who wanted to take up playing an instrument in high school most likely thought of the guitar. You can play and sing by yourself and find countless ways to learn any song you like, especially in the computer age.

Rarely does one desire to learn the ud or the tanbur. Those are the instruments of a different world and Turkish music pieces seem to belong to a different era.

Even if one does desire to play one of these instruments, it's not easy to dig up the correct scores and lyrics. Try running a search on the Internet--even the most popular Turkish music piece will turn up many variations of lyrics, and who knows which one is the correct one... If you can place Turkish music and the Internet in the same thought, of course...

But fortunately someone did. And thanks to this thought, we now have an invention that solves all of these problems and much more in one stroke.

It is called "Mus2okur". A "Multimedia Encyclopedia of Turkish Music". But this program in its little box is capable of much more than its pun-laden name might suggest (mus2=musiki [The name of the number 2 in Turkish is "iki". "Musiki" is the Ottoman word for music.]). You install it on your computer and acquaint yourself with the infinitely many secrets of Turkish music.

Information on 25 thousand works

For one, the software comes with information on 25 thousand musical works including the work's composer, lyricist, maqam, and usul. Of these, nearly one thousand features a score and therefore, music. In other words, you can play these thousand works on your computer with one or two instruments including the ud, tanbur, ney and kanun.

In any diapason and tempo, to boot. The upper portion of the screen displays the lyrics or the names of the notes in real time and you can play or sing along. If you want to learn a piece, you can start with a slow tempo and gradually increase it as you master the piece. Or you can play it in a different diapason. The possibilities and combinations are virtually unlimited.

Behind Mus2okur are two college friends, Kemal Karaosmanoğlu and Metin Yılmaz. Both of them are mathematicians. They worked as research assistants at Yıldız University in 1980 and received their graduate education at ITU together. They even fulfilled their military service in the same location and took ud lessons together. They set up a company called Data-Soft and from their shared passion of mathematics and music was born Mus2okur.

Through his own experiences, Kemal Karaosmanoğlu found that it was difficult to produce the right sound in a clear fashion and set off to create a number of computer programs. Then he decided to turn this into a professional effort and began to work with a professional team. Althought they set out to create a program for writing sheet music, at the end of 18 months, they had Mus2okur, a program intended to teach how to read music notation and the forerunner of Mus2.

First of its kind

Improvements on the software continue and the number of included musical works climbs as rights are secured from rights holders. And once you purchase the software once, you are entitled to subsequent updates.

Karaosmanoğlu teaches courses such as music technology and music arithmetic at YTU Faculty of Art and Design. The names of the courses are startling for those who claim "music is a matter of emotions, not calculations." On the other hand, it is no secret that music and math have been brothers since the time of Pythagoras. Karaosmanoğlu says this matter of emotions that is Turkish music lends itself very well to analysis: "One must first learn [Turkish music] with the right pitches. One then can turn off the computer and do as one pleases. I don't believe in saying "Turkish music is flexible" at the very beginning. As an educational tool, it certainly lends itself to calculations."

Mus2okur is a first of its kind. Using software designed for Western music for purposes regarding Turkish music is like typing in Turkish with an English keyboard, with the missing "dot"s and "hook"s. When you factor in the necessity of notating pitches that do not exist in Western music, things get seriously complicated.

As a program created from scratch to be a solution to all this, Mus2okur is a great contribution to Turkish music. Next in line is the English version and Mus2, a program for producing Turkish sheet music.

“The teacher is right here with us!”

We ask how the software was received in academic circles. We are told the presentations that took place in conservatories created great excitement. "We no longer need to come to school," some students remaked. "The teacher is right here [at home] with us..."

Even though Mus2okur serves to introduce beginners to Turkish music, the program is an even greater gift for conservatory students. It is ideal for reinforcing what's learned in school and learning the uncommon usuls and maqams that may not be taught in school.

Karaosmanoğlu and Yılmaz are most interested in connecting the new generations with Turkish music. Karaosmanoğlu sadly observes that most of his students listen to Western music and find Turkish music "difficult". But what's difficult about it? Access.

Mus2okur, a free demo of which can be downloaded at, has succeeded in overcoming this difficulty and brought Turkish music to our fingertips. All that needs to be done is to insert the CD and sing along.