In this paper I explore the production aesthetics that define the sound of most arranged traditional music albums produced in the early 2000s in Istanbul, Turkey. I will focus on two primary aesthetic characteristics, the achievement of which consume much of the labor put into tracking and mixing: parlak (“shine”) and büyük ses (“big sound”). Parlak, at its most basic, consists of a pronounced high frequency boost and a pattern of harmonic distortion characteristics, and is often described by studio musicians and engineers in Turkey as an exaggeration of the perceived brightness of the majority of Anatolian folk instruments. Büyük ses, which in basic terms connotes a high density of heterogeneous musical parts, in contrast to parlak has no relation to any known longstanding Anatolian musical performing traditions or timbral aesthetics, and is a recent development in Istanbul-produced recordings. Parlak and büyük ses became widespread after 2000, accompanying the paradigm shift of Istanbul studios from analog to digital workflows. Parlak and büyük ses are of interest for reasons that transcend music-aesthetics. The successful creation of mixes with parlak and büyük ses necessitates a palpable change in the performance practice of folk music instruments, as well a fundamental reconfiguration of the social structure of music-making, which in turn involves new musical competences and conceptualizations of musical practice. Parlak and büyük ses are not just a result of using a particular set of technologies (i.e., microphones or effects plugins), but instead arise from arduous and detailed arrangement and nonlinear editing work that is made feasible through DAW (digital audio workstation) systems. Although parlak and büyük ses index the transformation of traditional music aesthetics in the context of digital audio recording production, and their production is at the forefront of concerns of the professionals working in the recording studio environment, the terms are never mentioned in published music criticism, and only usually uttered in the studio context at the inception of a project and at the completion of a mix. Considerable preemptive work is done by studio musicians, engineers, and arrangers to avoid the need for the terms to be mentioned at all.
Bates, Eliot, "Mixing for Parlak and Bowing for a Büyük Ses: The Aesthetics of Arranged Traditional Music in Turkey" (2010). CUNY Academic Works.