I can only find 2 pieces called Turkish March. There is the 5th movement of The Ruins of Athens by Beethoven. Then there is the infamous Rondo Alla Turka by Mozart.

And when I search Turkish March Beethoven, I usually get a piano transcription.

Anyway, these are the parallels I can draw between the 2 pieces:

  • Major key
  • Upbeat
  • Rondo form
  • Minor key used for harmony, drama or both
  • Basic 8th note pulse at quarter note = 110 BPM
  • Left hand sort of sounds like footsteps

All I can get from the internet on what a Turkish March is, is that it is a march in the Turkish style. Since I only have that and the parallels drawn between Beethoven's Turkish March and Mozart's Rondo Alla Turka, it is hard for me to know how to compose a Turkish March and it feels like I am relying on Mozart to help me with this. In fact, mine is sort of based off of Rondo Alla Turka as far as form and the ending in octaves.

Is there anything besides the parallels I have already drawn between the 2 Turkish March pieces that will help me compose my Turkish March?

  • Possible duplicate of Why is Mozart's Turkish March considered a rondo? Dec 14, 2018 at 13:50
  • 4
    Wait, why do you think it is a duplicate? I mean first off I mention Beethoven's Turkish March which isn't mentioned at all in the other question and I compare it to Mozart's Rondo Alla Turka to see what they have in common. And I also mention that I am composing a Turkish March myself.
    – Caters
    Dec 14, 2018 at 15:09
  • 4
    I don't think this question is a dupe, @Carl.
    – user45266
    Dec 14, 2018 at 15:55
  • Karl King wrote at least one march, "Burma Patrol," which he subtitled, "Turkish March." I performed this with my high school band (pre internet) and always wondered just what made it "Turkish." The "A" & "B" sections are in minor key, and the trio, as I recall, went to the parallel major. Jan 12, 2021 at 19:15

3 Answers 3


The 'Turkish style' was a form of exoticism occasionally used by composers of the Classical era. It was loosely based on Turkish military bands. The basic feature was a lively march, often including exotic percussion instruments - triangle, cymbals and bass drum.


We could compare the craze for all things Oriental in the later Victorian era, that infulenced all areas of art and decor.


One thing I have noticed in "Turkish Marches" (and listening to other marches which may be based on Turkish music) is the sequence (in cut time): half-half; quarter-quarter-half.


There is nothing authentically Turkish about those pieces.

The musical characteristics...

  • March, 2/4 meter
  • Somewhat exotic scale, harmonic minor
  • Somewhat rapid contrasting of parallel major and minor

...just help create a dramatic march.

It may seem trite, but simply erase "Turkish" from the titles and no one would have any way to identify them as Turkish.

At a minimum make sure your music identifies as a march, then use some exotic scales and maybe an unusual modulation.

The Turkish national anthem is a march, maybe look to it or some Turkish folk tunes for melodic inspiration.

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  • The Turkish national anthem was written in 1921 or perhaps slightly earlier, so it does not help anyone who wants to identify authentic Turkish influences in Western European music of the 18th and 19th centuries. Folk tunes are perhaps also of limited use since the model for so-called "Turkish" music was Turkish military music. After listening to a few janissary marches on YouTube, I turned my attention to the national anthem, and it sounds almost Italian by comparison.
    – phoog
    Jan 12, 2021 at 19:58

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