Tag Archives: Sufi music

Artist Profiles: Bora Yasar

Bora Yasar

Bora Yasar was born in 1973 in Gaziantep, Turkey. He studied Alevi music and played saz for a semah group. He studied and applied classical Turkish music maqam and sufi music on the fretless classic guitar with neyzen Sezgin Bademli (University of Gaziantep Conservatory). In addition to his musical studies, Yasar studied Agricultural Engineering at Ankara University (1992-1994), Environmental Engineering at Mayis University (1994-1997) and Mechanical Engineering at University of Gaziantep (1997-21).

He has been researching Mesopotamian and Anatolian (which contains Turkish, Kurdish, Suryani, Armenian, and Laz) music and their similarities.

He plays saz, kopuz, yayli, mizrapli, tanbur, and fretless guitar.

Currently, he lives in New York and is working with different musicians from all over the world.

Our goal is to musically combine the traditions of the different ethnicities, societies and tribes of Asia Minor throughout history beginning from Greeks and including Romans, Ottomans, Armenians, Jews, and Kurds,” says Bora Yasar. Along with Olcay Sesen, he makes up Sounds From Anatolia, a group they founded several years ago in Gaziantep, an ancient city in the South-East part of Turkey.

Sounds From Anatolia utilizes classic scales and local instruments to create a fusion of modern day sounds that bear traditional forms of Classical Turkish,Folkloric and Sufi (Tasawwuf) music. Played in the Anatolian maqqam (mode system), these songs include a wide range of styles from songs of mystical love (ghazal), to hymns (ilahi) and music of the Ottoman court. By fusing this musicwith their own improvisational compositions, they become archivist of the traditional repertoire while molding old forms into a new form. Their music isnot East meets West, more than it is ancient meets today.

Their mission of introducing the indigenous music of their ancestors to the world brought them to the US last year. Here is a short excerpt from our conversation with Bora:

How did you start working together?

Everything started organically. We met in college, had long conversations about music and gradually started playing together. In time we realized that there were more people around us listening to our music than we had initially thought.

How would you define your sound?

We are very interested in ethnic sounds. Every major society that resided in Anatolia left a distinctive sound and style. That’s why the region is so rich today. Lift a stone from the ground and you can trace the marks of different cultures that have existed there. The music of Anatolia is a mosaic and so is our sound.

What kind of instruments are you using in your music?

I went to school in different parts of Turkey and was introduced to different sounds inherent to those regions. I played with local musicians at family fests and gatherings and was introduced to a myriad of local instruments. I play classic and fretless guitar, tanbur (a long-necked plucked lute with frets),flute, cura, and kopuz (a short-stringed lute with three strings). My partner Olcay accompanies me with the classic guitar.

Musically speaking, who influenced you?

We are influenced by a wide array of artists but most importantly I would say Erkan Ogur. He is the pioneer of the fretless guitar and an extremely experienced musician in the field. Other than that the Armenian duduk player Jivan Gasparyan, Goksel Baktagir, 13th century poets Yunus Emre and Asik Veysel. We also buy almost everything Kalan Music puts out in Turkey; all their releases are superior.

In your shows you mention the story of Mississippi and the blues. What is the real story?

I read an interview with Erkan Ogur and he was saying that in order to be able to play the blues or jazz you had to cross the Mississippi river 4-5 times.Ogur was drawing a comparison to Turkish folk music and explaining how difficult it is to master it. So, we decided to come here and see if we can cross theriver.

Are you really going to do that?

We don’t know, maybe. We’ll begin with the Hudson River, we live in New Jersey. [laughs]

Who would you like to collaborate with?

Needless to say, Erkan Ogur is our biggest influence and we would give anything to play with him. I also found out that Omar Faruk Tekbilek lives in New York and we would like to collaborate with him as well.

What is your goal for the future?

We would like to play as much as possible to introduce our sound to the American people and at the same time learn their ethnic sounds.

[Interview courtesy of Bora Yasar].

Share

Niyaz featuring Azam Ali at ‘A World In Trance’ Music Series

Niyaz

One of the finest acts in the world music scene, Niyaz featuring Azam Ali will perform its 21st Century Global Trance Music on Saturday, April 29 at 8:00 pm at Roulette in New York City.

Niyaz combines Sufi poetry and folk songs from its native Iran and surrounding countries with rich acoustic instrumentation and modern electronics. Formed in California in 2004 and currently based in Montreal, Niyaz’s sound bridges the gap between East and West.

The group was founded by the mesmerizing vocalist andcomposer Azam Ali, whose Iranian heritage and Indian upbringing have deeply influenced her music, and multi-instrumentalist and composer Loga Ramin Torkian (oud & kamaan lutes). They will be joined by Didem Basar (kanun), Gabriel Ethier (keyboards, programming), Vaneet Vyas (tabla), and whirling dervish dancer Miriam Peretz.

Niyaz recently released The Best of Niyaz.

Share

Artist Profiles: Abida Parveen

Abida Parveen
Abida Parveen
Abida Parveen, the queen of Sufi mystic singing spreads the message of love and induces a state of spiritual ecstasy with her Sufi mystic songs. An artist who has been recognized as a rue force in the realm of Sufi music, she proclaims her faith with her entire body. She is considered one of the most prominent contemporary exponents of the great ghazal and kafi musical styles from the Indian subcontinent. Rooted in the intense encounter between sensitivity and spirituality that is Sufism. She never ceases to sing her fiery love for the Divine.

The earliest memories of her childhood are all linked to her passion for music and her desire to sing. Born in 1954 in Larkana, Sindh into a family tat maintains close associations with the shrines of Sufi saints. She was imparted her initial training in the art of music from her father, Ustad Ghulam Haider, and later from Ustad Salamat Ali Khan of Sham Chorasia gharana. Her father, whom she refers to as reverently as Baba Sain, was also a singer and had his own small music school where he taught only male pupils. He was devoted to the Sufi poets and that is from where Abida gets her devotional inspiration. For her the Sufi poets of Sindh and Punjab are the ones who speak of the inner truths of the self and in their poetry, where she finds solace and peace. As she was growing up, Abida attended her father’s music school and that was where her foundation in music was laid.

Hyderabad Radio first introduced her in 1977. She is today the most popular and well-known folk and ghazal singer of Pakistan who breathed a new life into ghazal and semi-classical music. She holds an audience of thousands spellbound. Her appearance is a complete reverse of many other stage performers. She begins each number as solemnly as the previous one as the evening progresses, sinking deeper and deeper into her kafi’s and Sufiana kalam of the mystic poets. She is a woman of very few words and asks to be judged only by her music. This folk phenomenon, called Abida Parveen, is deeply religious and profoundly humble.

Abida Parveen is the finest singer of ghazal, geet and sindhi, seraiki and punjabi kafees. ‘While khayal and thumri became a part of her childhood training, her effective rendering of folk and traditional music with great sophistication and without losing the basic characteristics of the regional music of sindh has made her a versatile singer.’

Her command of kafi of sufi poets such as Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Hazrat Lal Shabaz Qalandar, Hazrat Sacchal Sarmast from sindh, and Hazrat Baba Bulhe Shah, Hazrat Khawja Farid Ganje Shakar, Hazrat Sultan Bahu, Hazrat Mian Muhammad Buksh, Hazrat Ghulam Farid, Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah and Hazrat Shah Hussain from pujab embellishes her versatility. Apart from sufis of Pakistan, Parveen also sings mystic poetry of the Asian Indian subcontinent, which include sufis such as Hazra Amir Khusrau, Hazrat Nizamudin Auliya, Hazrat Kutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki, Hazrat Moinuddin Chishti and Hazrat Moulana Jalaluddin Roomi from Turkey.

Professor G.M. Mekhri of Sind University has rightly said that, ‘Abida Parveen is the spiritual daughter of Great Sufi Saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. She is the truly blessed voice.’ Abida has recorded all the poetry of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, an 18th century poet and composer who blended folk music and classical raga in a style known as kafi from his book called ‘Shah jo Risalo’ according to their respective ‘Raags’ which were also laid down by him.

She has performed almost in all parts of the world and performed before international audiences and placed the name of the country high up I the field of music. Abida Parveen performed in Chicago in 1988. Her fist performance was based on classical and semi-classical art, the second was comprised of ghazals of prominent poets and the third rested on folk singing and different varieties of sindhi music. Her performance was recorded by the renowned organization Hazrat Amir Khusrau Society of Art and Culture, which issued a long play recording of her renderings.

Discography:

Pakistani Sufi Songs (Inedit Music, 1995)

Devotional Journey (Shalimar Records, 1997)

Songs of the Mystics (Navras Records, 2000)

Raqs-E-Bismil (Music Today, 2000)

Ho Jamalo (Music Today, 2000)

Jahan E Khusrau (Navras Records, 2001)

Tere Ishq Nachaya (Music Today, 2001)

Visal – The Meeting Mystic Poets from the Hind (World Village, 2002)

Hazrat Shah Hussain (Tim, 2002)

Sings Amir Khusrau (Tim, 2002)

Baba Bulleh Shah (Oreade Music, 2003)

Mere Dil Se (Tim, 2003)

Kabir (Tim, 2005)

Main Janu Mera Khuda Jane (Music Today, 2005)

‘Ishq: l’Amour Absolu – Supreme Love (Accords-Croises, 2005)

Passage to India:Traditional (Navras Records, 2006)

Euphoric Abida Remixes (Tim, 2006)

Live in Concert: Svar Utsav, Vol. 1 (Music Today, 2006)

Live in Concert: Svar Utsav, Vol. 2 (Music Today, 2006)

Euphoric (Tim, 2006)

Aashna (Tim, 2006)

Ghalib (2008)

Abida Ghazal Ka Safar Vol. II (Times Music)

Jeway Saiyaan (2008)

The Very Best of Abida (2009)

Zikr – Soul of Sufism, Vol. 1 (2009)

Thumri and Ghazal (2009)

Rukh-E-Murshid (2009)

Roohani Mehfil (Vol.2) (2010)

Qalander Asra Hai (2011)

The Sufi Queen (Vol.1) (2011)

30 Greatest Hits Abida Parveen And Noor Jehan (2011)

Treasures (Vol.1) (2011)

Eternal Abida (2012)

Lal De Rang Vich Rangi Aan (2012)

Sufiana safar (2012)

Tera Lal Sakhi Mera Lal Sakhi (2012)

Shaane-e-Ali (2012)

Ru-e-Ali (2013)

Zikr – Soul of Sufism (Vol. 2) (2014)

Tasawwuf (2014)

Share