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…“
Töre (1994) Garip (1996) 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) Karasu (2016) Döngü (Temkeş Müzik, 2018)
Mehmet Polat and Embracing Colours – Quantum Leap (Aftab Records, 2019)
Ud virtuoso and composer Mehmet Polat presents a new band
and direction on his latest album, Quantum Leap. The Embracing Colours ensemble
represents a jazzier side of his modal compositions. Although Polat spent
recent years inspired by the fertile musical traditions of the Middle East,
Africa, India, Europe and the Balkans, this new venture explores focuses on
Mehmet Polat describes the musicians in his new band: “Joan Terol Amigo is a genius on drums, Hendrik Muller is a master of grooves on bass and Bart Lelivelt is a brilliant accordion player. The ud is a traditional instrument played in all Arabic countries, West Asia and Eastern Europe, and can be a great connector of cultures.”
Throughout Quantum Leap, the masterful ud dances around the admirable accordion and bass, interweaving tasteful jazz, Balkan, Anatolian and Flamenco elements.
Embracing Colours includes Mehmet Polat on ud, Joan Terol
Amigo on drums, Hendrik Muller on bass and Bart Lelivelt on accordion.
Guest musicians: Cigdem Okuyucu on vocals (track 4), Eric Vloeimans on trumpet; Imamyar Hasanov on kamancha; and and Michalis Kouloumis on violin.
Rüya is the second album from Olcay Bayir, an Alevi Turkish singer-songwriter and composer based in London. She delivers a set of original and traditional poetic songs. Her band includes an international cast of musicians from Turkey, the UK, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Olcay Bayir has a captivating voice style with a blend of passion and energy that fits well with the contemporary world music style of the album. In terms of arrangements, Rüya combines finely sculpted traditional Turkish, Armenian and western instrumentation.
The lineup on the album includes Olcay Bayir on vocals; Giuliano Modarelli on guitar; Al MacSween on keyboards and piano; Aurel Qirjo on violin; Erdi Arslan on zurna, duduk, flute; Kostas Kopanaris on darbuka, bendir, percussion; Sam Vicary on double bass; Erdoğan Bayır on saz; Serkan Çakmak on kaval; Joost Hendrickx on drums; Adam Teixeira on drums; Mehmed Mert Baycan on bendir; Murat Sığırcı on bağlama; and Huw Bennett on double bass.
Crafting a kind of homage recording can be tricky business, especially if you is paying reverence to a dated sound and applying that sound to your own compositions.
Walking that fine line where adoration doesn’t cross over into parody or a pale copycat effort has to come with some true convictions, not only to the original sound but also to your own musical chops and whether you have anything new to add. Well as luck would have it Turkish singer, songwriter and guitarist Umut Adan proves rightly he’s got the chops and can kick some ass on his international debut recording Bahar (meaning Spring), out on the Riverboat Records label.
Diving deep into the Anatolian rock movement of the late 1960s, Mr. Adan has revived a sound familiar to devotees of the Turkish rock scene and musicians like Cem Karaca, Fikret Kizilok and Erkin Koray. While I am sometimes skeptical about claims of retro-sounding recordings, Mr. Adan has indeed captured the psychedelic rock sound; so much so it’s a little eerie and wholly satisfying.
Teaming up with producer and musician Marco Fasolo and producer and engineer Liam Watson, who just happens to be London’s Toe Rag studio founder where Bahar was recorded, Mr. Adan breathes a renewed musical life into Anatolian rock’s heyday by recording magic and good old fashioned rock compositions. Divvying up the work load, Mr. Adan plays acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, Mellotron and belts out the vocals on Bahar, while Mr. Fasolo takes care of electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, percussion, mellotron and piano.
While the political messages
of Bahar might be lost on those who don’t speak Turkish, the music is meaty and
entrancing enough to cross any language barriers. Proof is opening track
“Bembeyaz Cananım” Dedicated to Turkish folk musician and composer Muhlis
Akarsu, this track embodies all the goodness of 60s Anatolian rock.
Following up with a meaty beat and dishy guitar lines “Şeytanın Aklını Çeldim,” Bahar perfects that electrified folk/rock sound. And it just gets better with tracks like “Ortasından Gel,” “Güneş” and the folksy love ballad “Zaman Zaman” by Fikret Kizilok.
Bahar get another hit of folk with “Arabam Kaldi’a” by Mahsui Serif. Tracks like “Dünyalardan Şen Bahar” and “ Sevdiğimi Seçtim” are as close to time travel as you are likely to get. Closing with a song about “the possibilities for humankind to better itself,” “Ana Baba Bacı Gardaş” sticks neatly to not only the sound of the 60s but also the roots of political message in Anatolian rock and folk music, and that’s no comfortable feat today in President Erdogan’s Turkey.
Bahar‘s blast from the past psychedelic/rock vibe might seem out of place, but the state of world right now might just feel the need for some solid rock rhythms and protest vocals, dig it? Also, kudos go to Ramazan Can for the wildly rich cover art. The description far out comes to mind.
Ahmet Erdogdular started studying music at an early age with his father, Ömer Erdoğdular, and continued his musical development with the guidance of the renowned musician Niyazi Sayin. He participated in various concerts as a lead singer while still a teenager.
Ahmet holds a BA degree from the Istanbul Technical University State Conservatory where he also completed his Master’s degree in Turkish Classical Music under the guidance of Professor Alaeddin Yavas?a. He specialized in Turkish gazel (improvisation) technique, while his academic research is on the use of music and poetry in gazel forms of the late Ottoman period.
Ahmet studied makam and improvisation techniques with Niyazi Sayin, Necdet Yasar and Kani Karaca, and performed with them in Turkey and around the world. Studying the techniques of masters of Ottoman music like Bekir Sitki Sezgin, and Meral Ugurlu, Ahmet learned the classical singing style.
With his father, he also analyzed the old LP recordings of Hafiz Sami, Hafiz Kemal, Hafiz Osman, Izak Al Gazi, Sadettin Kaynak, Hafiz Mecid and others, learning their voice and singing techniques in forms such as classical songs, gazel, kaside, and mevlid. From these great masters Ahmet learned the ways in which poetry is matched to the music so that the literary substance and the musical composition are equally represented when performing vocal improvisation. Ahmet also studied and performs Sufi musical repertoire that over centuries integrated spiritual practice and artistic expression. Those include the naat in Mevlevi ayins (known as ‘whirling dervish’ ceremony), as well as ilahi (hymns) and kaside (improvisation on religious poetry), as essential components of the Sufi zikir (remembrance ceremony).
Ahmet Erdogdular participated in various festivals in Europe, Asia and the United States performing both Ottoman classical and Sufi music. As a member of Lalezar Ensemble he performed in concerts and recorded a four CD Anthology of Ottoman Music in the United States. He performed as a soloist with The Necdet Yasar Ensemble in France, as well as with Kani Karaca in Japan, Niyazi Sayin in Austria and Kudsi Erguner in France, Morocco, Greece, and Italy.
Ahmet worked at the Turkish Radio as soloist, recorded a number of TV music program series, and is frequently featured in TRT television music programs.
Fuat Saka had his first music education from his father who played tanbur. He later had education in arts (painting) in Istanbul, Turkey, music in France, and Germany.
Besides scoring for theaters and films, he gave many solo concerts and made arrangements for Turkish and international artists.
The artist also composed the music of Karadeniz (Black Sea) part of the “Sultans of Dance” show who gained lot of attention.
Fuat Saka has made 15 recordings and his new albumLazutlar III is out. Giving a large place to Karadeniz folk songs in his works, he also composed for many well-known poets of Turkey like Ahmet Arif, Enver Gökçe, Nazým Hikmet, and Orhan Veli.
His works have been recognized by the Truva Folklor Araþtýrmalarý Kurumu (Truva Folkloric Research Institute) and awarded in 2000 in music category.
During the 20 years he had lived abroad, Fuat Saka has worked with many international musicians from the countries like Germany, France, and Denmark as well as Turkey. Fuat Saka continues his music life between Istanbul – Hamburg – Paris with the International Band consisting of German, American, Georgian and Azerbaijani musicians.
Improvisations are very important in Fuat Saka’s music, which takes its foundation, rhythm and melody from Anatolia and meets the harmonic music of West.
His topics are love, longing for the beloved, longing for the homeland, and protest.
Yıkılır Zulmün Son Kaleleri (1982) Ayrılık Türküsü (1983) Kerem Gibi (1984) Sevdalı Türküler Poems of Nazım Hikmet) (1987) Nebengleis Kenardaki Ray) (1988) Askaros (1989) Semahlar ve Deyişler (1991) Şiirce (1993) Torik Baliklar Ülkesinde (1994) Arhavili İsmail (1996) Lazutlar (1997) Sen (1998) Lazutlar II (2000) Perçem Perçem (2001) Lazutlar III (2002) Lazutlar Livera (2004) Lazutlar Seçmeler) (2005) Bir Sürgünün Not Defteri (2006) Fuat Saka Koleksiyon 3 CD) (2006) Lazutlar 2008 (2008) Nenni (2012)
Derya Turkan was born in 1973 in Istanbul. He graduated from the Turkish State Conservatory of Istanbul, in 1994. By the age of 17, his accomplishment on the kemenche brought an invitation to join the Necdet Yasar Ensemble, with whom he performed and toured for eight years.
In 1991, Türkan met Kudsi Ergüner with whom he worked on several projects (Ottomania, Ottoman Drums, La Banda Allaturca, Chemins) and toured throughout the world, including Europe, the United States, Japan, Israel, Tunisia, and Sudan.
In the United States of America, he gave concerts and seminars at Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of California at Santa Cruz and New England Conservatory.
In 1997, he performed at the Sorbonne for the celebration of Yehudi Menuhin’s 80th birthday organized by French President Jacques Chirac.
He was a co-founder of Incesaz.
In 2014 he released Silk Moon, recorded with Renaud García-Fons. (CD, Album).
Yeni Turku was formed in 1978 in Ankara. Their music combines traditional and ethnic songs that appeal to all generations, making old songs new. It is based on combining the sound of modern musical instruments with an emphasis on the classic Turkish instruments, which have a broad range of frequency, and Turkish melodies, uniting Anatolian and Byzantine cultures.
Yeni Turku’s first album Bugday’in Turkusu was released in 1979. In 1983, incorporating inspirations of the Aegean and Mediterranean regions, they released their next album Akdeniz Akdeniz including songs that are still favorites to this day. With the release of Gunebakan, Yeni Turku began to emphasize traditional and classical Turkish instruments such as the ud, baglama, kemenche, and kanun. The group continued using the same style for their next album Dunyanin Kapilari, released in 1987.
In 1988, the release of Yesilmisik brought Yeni Turku’s fame to a new level. Concert tours in Turkey, as well as in Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and England followed.
In 1990, Yeni Turku released Vira Vira followed by Rumeli Konseri.
Yeniden, released in 1992, showed the level of maturity the group had reached. The same album caused a stir in the public with the inclusion of Rembetiko music. The song “Yedikule” won numerous awards as Best Song and Best Music Video.
Kulhani Sarkilar, released in 1994, was an anthology collection of Rembetiko music. In 1996 they released Her Dem Yeni/Yeni Turku, a “best of” collection, and in 1999 their album Yeni met huge success.
Buğdayın Türküsü (1979) Akdeniz Akdeniz (1983) Film Müzikleri (1983) Çekirdek Sanat Evi Resitali (1984) Günebakan (1986) Dünyanın Kapıları (1987) Yeşilmişik (1988) Vira Vira (1990) Rumeli Konseri (1991) Aşk Yeniden (1992) Külhani Şarkılar (1994) Süper Baba – Film Müzikleri (1995) Telli Telli, remixes (1996) tr:Her Dem Yeni (1996) Yeni (1999) Koleksiyon (2003) Koleksiyon 2 (2004) Koleksiyon 3 (2006) Koleksiyon 4 (2008) Şimdi ve Sonra (2012)
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.
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
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
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.
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
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!
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…
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
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,
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
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
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…
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)
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:
Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gültek – Karin – Muziekpublique