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Interview with Emre Gültekin

Emre Gültekin

Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin recently released Karin, an album that reached number 1 on the January 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart. Emre Gültekin discussed his musical background and Karin with World Music Central.

Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültekin – Karin

How did Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin meet?

One of the first meetings was when we were looking in Brussels for a duduk player for a recording. It was an album project with my father Lutfu Gultekin…So he came, we met and recorded; it was wonderful.

At that time, I was studying sound engineering and there was a class named “soundscape” or something like that. One of our exercises was to put a poem in sound without using music. 

I was often the first student to present my works because we had a home studio in our house. 

So I presented the work which was a poem of Nazim Hikmet and asked Vardan to play duduk.

So the Poem (20th century) was presented with just a voice and duduk in front of the class and the teacher. 

A lot of students were laughing, etc…Then the teacher said ‘Ok! You forgot the main instruction for this work (no music) but your work touched me so much that I will give you 18/20 and if you correct this part by doing this, I will make it 19/20.’

I answered something like “I am ok with 18/20”. After that it was obvious that we would keep in touch through music.

Emre Gültekin and Vardan Hovanissian

What attracted a Belgian with Turkish roots and an Armenian to collaborate?

There is no point for us not to collaborate because of so many common things from food to music.

For me, the “modern Turkish identity” they wanted to create doesn’t mean so much or it is not relevant. Turkey is a mosaic of more than 40 ethnic groups with several languages, which includes Kurdish, Aramaic, Pontos Greek, Armenian, Laz… so much!

Unfortunately, a lot of blood and tragedies accompany their stories.

As in Europe with Bretons, or all the “little communities” which are actually so big for me as the Baul, in India for giving just one example…Sorry for my English.

For Vardan and me particularly, the music is the common language we want to express our feelings… and I think in this attempt the goal is quite appreciated for that we are so grateful to our respective masters… you have some interviews where their names are noted.

For me, Lutfu Gultekin, my father then so lot of so nice musicians. Specially and first from Turkey (one of my main roots), Talip Özkan, Mustafa Karaçeper, Neşet Ertaş, Muharrem Ertaş, Tamburi Cemil Bey, Cengiz Özkan, Engin Arslan, Ertan Tekin.

I want to apologize because there are so many.

Then also here in Europe or India or Africa, America, Far East, Middle-East.

Actually, Muziekpublique based in Brussels or De Centrale based in Gent can give a good idea about the diversity of musical cultures we exchange in Belgium.

My second root is related with Belgium, where I was born. 

So it means through Brussels more than 170 countries… so much diversity who can give so much perspective in the way of musical exchange creations, etc.

At the end, the world is like a village 🙂

Very soon, I hope we can effectively understand the absurdity in so much ideas like borders, papers. Music has to remember that as an artistic point of view of life.

Then there is no point of defining music by “nationality” which is also nonsense. Of course, territorial geographical particularities is relevant. Sometimes even between two neighboring village stylistic differences exist…Particularly for Armenian and Turkish folk music we can say that there is a so large common background through the centuries of living together than we can hope to collaborate with Vardan all our life. As long as breathe, we will perform!

Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültekin

What do you consider as the essential elements of your music?

Soul and spirit…feelings…fluidity… all our respective lives in a way… get in our music our hopes to transmit all of this through our music

Whom can you cite as your main musical influences?

I already mentioned some earlier, my father Lutfu Gultekin, and a lot of his colleagues or friends, Talip Özkan, Mustafa Karaçeper, and a lot more. 

Recently I met after 20 years Aynur, for a Kurdish folk project. Through the platform muziekpublique I get the chance to meet a lot of musicians from “world music.” I dislike this categorization of music. A big mistake;-) the categorization.

Vardan has also his own masters (I don’t have the names in memory but you can find through muziekpublique.be His roots related to Armenia so old and deep traditions…so the sound of duduk is printed by all of this…

Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültekin- Adana

Tell us about your previous album Adana and your musical evolution.

Adana is before all the idea to combine some examples from Armenian and Turkish musical cultures. Through this friendship we developed with Vardan. Musically it is a mix I made as I am sound engineer…One of the rules I learned through years it is: less rules or indication or scores…to the musicians…

Just feelings… even the musician cannot understand the deep roots the expression he is giving to the music my role is to catch them and then put together.

And for this process I am so grateful to people with ears so fined tuned as my father Lutfu Gultekin, Cengiz Özkan, Talip Özkan…and many others.

The ear is our main tool; as musician or sound engineer which has to be in fusion (the two functions) if we want to give a chance to the music…to be heard.  Music coming first and before sound engineering (modern way to broadcast “diffuser.”

After Adana and in parallel a lot of projects…

There is no impossibility in music if you are open mind and if you want to share and find a common way. So it is a permanent journey. These are some of the projects: www.amusicjourney.com, www.seyirmuzik.com

A lot of recordings we have also to share, but in this very troubled period in the way they are diffusing consuming music sometimes it is very difficult to find it. Then you give up to think about and continue to play record. Making music is our life.

 You play two traditional Turkish musical instruments, the saz and the baglama. What’s the difference between the two instruments?

Saz is a generic term for all the lute family we can find in Turkey. There is no standard format of this instrument. Each instrument maker has his signature… initially it was like that. Today, industrial mood and process can be used. But I like signatures. 

So baglama is one of the format but in different regions it can represent different instruments. 

Baglama in Aegean part (west) is a cura in another part…More than 40 different ethnic group in Turkey;-)

Complicated a bit, but if you change the perspective to analyze music, it becomes quite ok. 

We can make music with spoon in Greece or Turkey:-)

Who makes your musical instruments?

I never bought instruments. Till today, my father had a very good approach of restoring old saz (as wine it is better older) and we have not this idea of mine, my instrument. Every material things for music is shared as it has to be through music, so in that way we share instruments. 

Also I received some gifts from very good masters. The instrument makers are in Turkey, Central Asia, Iran…Difficult to find here in Europe.

Are you involved in any form of musical education?

After years of “teaching,” you understand if you can go further that there is no point to teach, and maybe we have more to call it sharing…

Also as “teacher,” I learned a lot because new things generally can come also from “students” if the “teacher” is attentive. 

So in that way I was involved a lot but neither in academy or conservatory where they cannot teach the spirit of the saz…Some cultural association.

The masters as considered like were never in institutions or conservatory or academy. Some have opened their own school and sometimes they also the same impact as institutions for music… they empty the music from its own soul or spirit.

That is one of the thing I heard from Talip Özkan and then I experiment in my own musical trip.

So it is continuing like that…Some young people interested they can follow you, then it will depend of their own intention, to be or not actor in musical developments. And how… a lot of questions of course.

If you could gather any additional musicians or musical groups to collaborate with, whom would that be?

There is no impossibility. We can make music with anyone who is close to our feelings. You cannot cheat in music. In that way if the person is sincerely involved to share and express something which is above us, the music, then this one can emerge.

For Adana and Karin it is with double bass percussion and a lot of other instruments. For Karin we invited also a lot of guest: Iranian, Kurdish, Georgian, French, Belgian, and Indian.

Do you have any other upcoming projects to share with us?

Baul meets saz (Indian Baul); Aynur Kurdish; Osuna Trio Silk Road folk; Gultekinler (kalan music); Guo Gan “lune de jade.” And so much more in hard drives 🙂 Easy to get info through internet…

Discography:

Chansons Pour La Fin D’un Jour ‎(Homerecords.be, 2011)
L’exil, Refuge Du Barde, with Lütfü Gültekin ‎(Homerecords.be, 2013)
Adana, with Vardan Hovanissian ‎(Muziekpublique, 2015)
Lune De Jade, with Guo Gan (Homerecords.be, 2016)
Karin (Muziekpublique, 2018)

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Vardan Hovanissian & Emre Gültekin at the Top of the January 2019 Transglobal World Music Chart


Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültek – Karin

The album Karin (Muziekpublique) by duduk player Vardan Hovanissian (Armenia) and saz virtuoso Emre Gültek (Belgium, with roots in Turkey) is the number one recording in January 2019 on the Transglobal World Music Chart.

“Karin” is the ancient Armenian name for the town of Erzurum, situated in what is now Turkey. It is the birthplace of Vardan Hovanissian’s grandfather, who was one of 200 survivors following the deportation of around 40,000 residents during the Armenian genocide. The recording is a tribute to the cosmopolitan period in Karin, which was a crossroads for the different cultures that existed along the Silk Road.

The top 10:

  1. Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültek – Karin – Muziekpublique
  2. Gaye Su Akyol – İstikrarlı Hayal Hakikattir – Glitterbeat
  3. Afro Celt Sound System – Flight – ECC
  4. Dhafer Youssef – Sounds of Mirrors – Anteprima
  5. SANS – Kulku – Cloud Valley
  6. Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane – Ma Case
  7. Urna Chahar-Tugchi featuring Kroke – Ser – Urna Chahar-Tugchi / UCT
  8. Ukandanz – Yeketelale – Buda Musique
  9. Vigüela – A Tiempo Real – ARC Music
  10. Bixiga 70 – Quebra-Cabeça – Glitterbeat
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Anatolia’s Joyful Celebration of Turkish and Arabic Folk Traditions


The Best of Folk Music Group Anatolia (Edward Hines Music, 2018)

The Best of Folk Music Group Anatolia is a compilation that includes recordings from Anatolia’s previous three albums: Folk Songs and Dance Music of Turkey and the Arab World (1996), Lost Songs of Palestine (2001), and Middle Eastern Songs and Dances for Children (2005).

Anatolia is a world music group led by American multi-instrumentalist Edward J. Hines, whose goal is to preserve the folk,classical and dance music traditions of the Middle East.

The Best of Folk Music Group Anatolia presents a fascinating overview of the rich and varied folk traditions of Turkey and the Arab world, using a wide spectrum of traditional musical instruments performed by Hines and his collaborators.

Even if you don’t speak the language, the popular Turkish children’s song “Ali Baban’ın Çiftliği” reels you in right away with its catchy hooks. It’s a lot of fun, featuring various mimicked farm animal sounds.

The lineup includes Edward Hines on ‘ud, divan sazi, kaval, clarinet, zurna, buzuq, cura, sipsi, ocarina and vocals); Taner Okatan on saz, baglama, divan sazi, percussion and vocals; Michel Moushabeck on percussion and vocals; Jamal Sinno on kanun; Jenny Killgore on violin, kasik and vocals; Bruce Rawan on kanun; Mohammed Mejaour on nay, percussion and vocals; Saied Khoury on violin, buzuq, ud and vocals; and V. Tailan Yildiz on accordion.

Buy The Best of Folk Music Group Anatolia

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Artist Profiles: Martha Mavroidi

Martha Mavroidi

Martha Mavroidi is a lutist and singer from Greece. She plays folk lutes (lafta and saz) performing music from Greece and the Balkans. She has participated in various world and contemporary music projects in Europe and the United States of America. She has also composed music for films, dance and theater.

She launched her music career as a recording artist in 2010 with the release of her critically acclaimed debut album “The Garden of Rila”. With her new trio she takes her music a step forward, drawing from her experience in folk music those elements that can be reworked in a contemporary music project.

In 2012 Martha Mavroidi showcased at WOMEX with an unconventional trio (bass, drums, folk lutes and voice) that brought together Balkan music and improvisation. The band performed in numerous venues and festivals in Greece, Cyprus and Turkey. In 2012 they released their album Portaki.

Trio line up: Giorgos Ventouris on double bass, Kostas Anastasiadis on percussion and Martha Mavroidi on electric lafta, saz, voice.

Discography

* The Garden of Rila (2010)
* Portaki (2012)
* Agiorgitiko (Violins Productions)
* Thread and Neddle

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Adana Wins Octaves de la Musique 2016 Award

Armenian-Turkish-Belgian ensemble Adana is the winner of Octaves de la Musique 2016 award in the world music category. The band aims to reconcile Armenian and Turkish cultures and is led by Armenian-Belgian Vardan Hovanissian (duduk) and Turkish-Belgian Emre Gültekin (saz, vocals). The rest of the ensemble includes Belgian musicians Joris Vanvinckenroye on double bass and Simon Leleux on percussion.

Adana recently performed at Babel Med Music world music showcase in Marseilles, receiving a standing ovation from the audience. People stood up at the end of the showcase to give them an ovation. An exceptional performance that shows the interest in this project reconciling Armenian and Turkish cultures.

Octaves de la Musique are the awards presented every year to artists living in Belgium (Wallonia-Brussels). They are handed out by professionals (booking agents, artist managers, record labels, artists, institutions).

Upcoming concerts:

Sines Festival (Portugal)
Philharmonie du Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
Rumi Fest (LV)
Festival Parfums de Musiques (France)
Le Salon du Bleu Café (Switzerland)
Ethno Port Festival (Poland)
Festival de Wallonie (Belgium)
La Chapelle de Verre (Belgium)
Düsseldorf (Germany)
Köln (Germany)
Brugge (Belgium)
Bern (CH)
Gent (BE)

Photo credit: Adana photo by Fabienne Pennewaert

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