The çiftetelli appears in many variations in the folk music of Western and Central Turkey. The different compositions based on this popular rhythm each have their own name. In Turkey çiftetelli has been relegated to wedding music, where Roma and Greeks have adopted the upbeat folk rhythms into oriental dancing.
Romani often served as purveyors of music to Turks, and their women (and boys) were recruited (others being Greeks, Armenians, Jews, and Albanians) to become belly dancers. The boy dancers were called köçek, from which we get the word čoček, the name known throughout the Balkans for a very similar dance.
Drummers tend to have fun filling in the end of the rhythm in various, sometimes unexpected, ways. It is sometimes used to accompany a taaqasiim (melodic improvisation). Egyptians tend to play a simpler version of çiftetelli than you might find in Turkey and call it “waaHida taaqasiim” or maybe “waaHida kabiir”.
Tsifteteli(Greek), is a Turkish musicians’ expression meaning “a pair of strings”; it originally referred to a technique of playing the violin in which the fiddler put the second string in the same groove on the bridge as the first string and tuned them either to the same octave or an octave apart. A tsifteteli melody was played in a long drawn out and wavering style, and hence any instrument mimicking this style was said to be playing tsifteteli.
Though the playing technique is rarely used today, the style of music and dance it accompanied are still called tsifteteli or çiftetelli. The rhythm in Greece is considered a 4/4, with a stress on the first and (surprisingly) on the fourth count, however the more common version of stressing the first and third count is also quite familiar to the Greeks. It can be simple or filled in with many variations, syncopations etc…