Turkey: Autistic music prodigy plays 10 instruments

Alaturka Kultur Sanat Haberleri

By Kenan Irtak

ISTANBUL (AA) – A young autistic Turkish male with a talent for "absolute pitch" can play 10 instruments at a professional level.

Murat Yurtcu, 23, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4 when his family took him to a health facility because his speaking and physical abilities were different than his peers.

As Murat was constantly crying and hyperactive, they noticed music would calm him drastically. Despite not being able to talk, he began to hum songs and accompany them as he grew older.

At 7, Murat began his education at a school and one of his music teachers realized his skill, which would eventually change his life forever.

He learned to play the baglama, an indigenous Turkish lute-like instrument, by himself while watching music-themed television programs and soon learned to play instruments with notes shortly after he began music lessons.

The young prodigy has mastered a variety of instruments, including bongos, baglama, bendir — a rhythm-based instrument used in classical Turkish music — guitar, violin, drum, darbuka, piano and the tambourine.

As Murat sang songs while playing instruments, his ability to speak also improved. He started to form sentences at the age of 12.

"I really like Turkish folk music. Studying at a conservatory is my dream. I also play instruments at home and practice for several hours. I go emotional while playing instruments," he said.

His music teacher Umit Akkus said Murat grabbed his attention with his talent for absolute pitch – the ability to identify and recreate a note without using a reference tone — which he said was a gift only a handful of people possess.

Akkus said Murat’s musical memory was extremely good and he could memorize any song after listening to it twice, and music is a great tool for him to express himself.

He noted that Murat had a repertoire of 400-500 songs in his memory and would sometimes find himself getting schooled by his student who reminds him of tunes he forgot.

*Writing by Ali Murat alhas