Turkish Folk Music? Yes, of course

Selin, Tomas, Ersoy and Nevin

Selin, Tomas, Ersoy and Nevin

Fethiye, Turkey March 2011

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It is around 4 PM on a Saturday afternoon outside in the garden of the Saloon BarN. The sun still shines and there seems to be only the sufficient amount of clouds in the sky.  Nevin, a classy and good spirited musician, arrives with her husband, music partner and music history lover Tomás to the bar. Their friends Selin, a dedicated violinist with a peculiar taste of tango, and her music partner and boyfriend Ersoy, a man always willing to learn a new songs with his guitar, stand up from their chairs to give them a more than warm welcome. They are united by the local music scene. All of them have brought their instruments and place them carefully on a safe place just before they take a seat. Ersoy and Selin play every Friday at Saloon BarN and Nevin and Tomás do the same for a local restaurant in the city. They usually stop by every Friday after their own gig is over. This is how we got to know the four of them.

The four earn money playing music, but still it is their biggest hobby. When Ersoy Selin, Annika and I visit Nevin and Tomás in their village house, the four of them spent most of the time jamming, singing and playing.

Today the two couples have agreed with me to take part in a small chat about a theme I find particularly interesting in every place I visit: local music. In this case Turkish music. I have heard them before and fancied their particular styles. So, I am excited to get to know their opinion of Turkish music from the point of view of live performers rather than from a distant paper written by an expert in the field.

Ersoy, Selin, Tomas and Nevin

Ersoy, Selin, Tomas and Nevin

So can you please give me an overview on Traditional Turkish Music?

Tomás: I think we first need to understand the difference between what some people say is Turkish folk music – which is really Turkish pop music – and the real Turkish folk music. The real, so is to say, Turkish music is a central asian music tradition mixed wıth all the influences musicians picked up from there way to Anatolia. Some of these examples are Persian, Arabic, Greek and Armenian. It all has to do with history. If you talk about Turkish folk music you also have to talk about Italian, Russian and even French music. Some years ago French music covers with turkish lyrics were very popular here.

Nevin: Within the folk music there is contemporary music and old music. I am on the side of the old music.  I studied what you might label as Art Music. Art Music is hardly practiced, there are some schools practicing it, but it is not really played very much.

Selin: Turkish Folk Music sings about love, life in the village, drinking, death, or a woman who has to marry his widow’s brother or tragedies like that.

Ersoy: Like the blues. I like Old Folk Turkish music. I like them all, but I have to say that this kind of music is either for crying with your heart out or dancing happily. Like a chicken!

Nevin: My family says folk music is something for village people yet I find it very interesting and amusing sometimes.

Selin and Tomas talk music

Selin and Tomas talk music

Let’s talk sabout Turkish Folk Music. What makes it special?

Selin: Everything is so different from Western Music. This music does not only have major or minor scales but uses a much more variety of them. In old Turkish Folk Music there was no polyphony, so they used all the tones they wanted and mixed them up.

Tomás: Also the blend from different sounds Gypsy, Armenian, Greek, and other that were played in the old times.

What about the voice? When I hear Turkish Music the singer’s voice sounds different compared to the Western Music . Is this just my idea? 

Selin: I think it has to do with the language. I don’t even think about it. When I sing in Turkish my voice changes … I guess it is in my genes.

Tomás: It also has to do with certain movements of the diaphragm when you sing in Turkish language.

Could you give us some good recommendations of Turkish Folk Songs for our readers?

Name of the song: Altın Hızma Mülayım
Description: Folk song from Eastern Anatolia
A bitter sweet song

Name of the song: Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım
Artist: Aşık Veysel
Description: Life is a thin long road that never ends.

Name of the song: Dök Zülfünü Meydana Gel
Artist: Tamburi Mustafa Çavuş
Description: A love song from 18th century.

Name of the song: Penceresi Yola Karşı
Description: A folk song from Roumelie.

And well one last thing. Could you please sing a song for us?

Nevin, Ersoy, Selin and Tomás: Yes, of course (at the same time).

So for all our readers of Tasting Travels we present you for the very first time the two couple ensemble Nevin, Selin, Ersoy and Tomás with this beautiful folk song called Zeytinyağlı Yiyemem.


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