In Turkey, Erdal Erzincan is often considered one the most outstanding exponents of the Anatolian tradition. He has worked extensively with baglama legend Arif Sag and performed with him throughout the world.
Erdal Erzincan was born in Erzumrum in 1971, and at an early age became deeply interested in the region’s folk music. Introduced to the baglama, he moved to Istanbul in 1985 to take lessons at the Arif Sag Music School. While studying at the Istanbul Technical University in the late 1980s, he began to research finger-picking approaches to playing the baglama (as opposed to the more common plectrum style).
His first solo album Tore was released in 1994, the first of many successful recordings, opening the way also for international performances.
In 1996, Erzincan and Arif Sag collaborated with the Koln Philharmonic, an experiment continued by Erzincan in 2004 with the Ambassade Symphony Orchester Wien, an ensemble of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
Erdal Erzincan teaches at a music school that carries his name and also leads a Baglama Orchestra comprised of 25 of his students.
Several of his own recordings have been best-sellers in Turkey. He is an exceptional baglama (saz) player working out of a tradition that can be traced back to the days of the traveling Sufi poets, whose playing once provided a context for spiritual meditations.
Iranian musician Kayhan Kalhor began an association with Erzincan by making several research trips, in consecutive years, to Istanbul, collecting material, looking for pieces that he and Erdal might play together. He was accompanied on his journeys by musicologist and instrumentalist Ulaş Ozdemir who also served as translator and eventually took a supporting role in the Kalhor/Erzincan collaboration. On the album The Wind, Ulaş played the divan baglama, or bass saz, providing a ground over which the two master musicians played.
“I appreciated at once that Erdal is a very good musician, a very serious baglama player – but he is still, normally, working within the demands of Turkish music today,“” said Kalhor about the project. “This means songs and maybe a minute of playing in free time, and then another song. In Turkey, if you have a CD the market says you need 14 tracks and you have to have singing. I didn’t ask Erdal to sing. I explained to him, ‘I’m looking for something that departs from nothing and then goes into developing material and then goes into something else really improvised. Maybe we’ll go for a climax in terms of melody and energy and keep it there…And I’m looking at this for a form for maybe an hour of music.’ And he said, ‘I haven’t done that before, but I would like to do this.’ And he showed that he was indeed very much able to do this, and many of the things he played surprised and delighted me.
What I’m trying to do in these kind of projects – whether with Shujaat or, now, with Erdal is to learn the music and experience the world through their eyes. And I am not trying to change what they do so much as offer them another vision of it. Musical Turkey, for instance, is very much based on composed songs. Improvisation of the kind that Erdal and I undertake, developing material, is something that has been forgotten…“
Türküler Sevdamız, with İsmail Özden and Tolga Sağ (1997)
Concerto For Bağlama, with Arif Sağ and Erol Parlak (ASM Müzik Üretim, 1998)
Gurbet Yollarında (1999)
Anadolu Güvercin Müzik, 2000)
Türküler Sevdamız 2, with Tolga Sağ and Yılmaz Çelik (2001)
Al Mendil (Güvercin Müzik, 2002)
Türküler Sevdamız 3, with Tolga Sağ, Muharrem Temiz and Yılmaz Çeli (2005)
Kervan ( Güvercin Müzik, 2006)
The Wind, with Kayhan Kalhor (ECM, 2006)
Giriftar ( Güvercin Müzik, 2008)
Girdab-ı Mihnet (2011)
Kula Kulluk Yakışır Mı, with Kayhan Kalhor (ECM, 2013)
Döngü (Temkeş Müzik, 2018)