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The soul danced into the body: Nation and improvisation in Istanbul

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ABSTRACT

In this article, I examine the politics and practices of apprenticeship in the “traditions” of Turkish folk music through playing the bag˘lama, or saz. The saz has become iconically representative of a folk music collected and preserved in the era of nationalism, and I examine the meaning of such a self-conscious and reflexive tradition's claims to traditionality. I outline the ways in which that tradition is acquired as an aesthetics of self, requiring one to consciously shape the self to become the type of person who can play the saz and, hence, improvise within the sensibility of a tradition.

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