Musicians: Barbaros Erköse (clarinet), Onur Yagcilar (violin), Tuncay Erköse (violoncello), Sener Büyükdereli (kanun), Serdar Karacay (oud), Saban Erköse (darbuka), Ìbrahim Torol (kenar / frame drum)
track title time
1 Yalvaris 4:53
2 Hicaz Dolap/Ararim 6:00
3 Hicaz Mandira 2:56
4 Havada Bulut Yok/Sivasli 7:38
5 Taksimler (Improvisations) 9:28
6 Karsilama (Çadirimin Üstüne,
Kara Bulutlar)
6:45
7 Lingo Lingo Siseler /
Konyali
3:31
8 Gayda 3:36
9 Kasap 3:37
10 Anadolu 4:48
11 Sehnaz Longa 8:17
total   61:58

Release Date: March 14, 2000

Turkish clarinet virtuoso, Barbaros Erköse, presents an array of Turkish light classical fasil and urban music in the driving and fluid improvisational style found among Roman (Gypsy) urban musicians of Turkey. In a unique style which synthesizes Turkish traditional music with Western-influenced improvisations, this album portrays a captivating and exciting range of musical colors from the Turkish urban landscape.

Barbaros Erköse

Erköse 12 years oldLed by clarinet virtuoso, Barbaros Erköse, the music on this recording presents an array of Turkish fasil light classical) and urban music in the driving and fluid improvisational style found among Roman (Gypsy) urban musicians of Turkey. Barbaros Erköse, of the famed Erköse musician family, has created a unique style forged from an interpenetration of Turkish traditional style with Western-influenced idioms and improvisational performance modes.

The roots for such original synthesis lie in his musical family background and life experiences. In Turkey, as in other areas of the Balkans and Middle East, Roman musicians generally come from musician families, where training is fostered as much in the home as with outside teachers, and tempered in a variety of live performance situations. As is the case for many professional musician families in Western Turkey, the Erköse family came from the Balkans. Barbaros' grandfather, Abdurrahman, played clarinet in a military band in the Greek town of Drama. Barbaros' father, Saban, was born in 1895 and played oud (ud in Turkish, a short-necked, plucked lute) in Greece. He later also became a composer, and wrote "Ne güzeldir bakisin" a sarki (Turkish light classical song) in the makam (mode) of Hicaz and usul (rhythmic mode) of Çifte Sofyan, which was recorded by famed singer Hafiz Burhan on the Columbia label. Saban's brother, Ali Demir, was an important violinist in Istanbul's Turkish Radio. Barbaros' mother, Ülviye Hanim, was also from a musical family; her brother was the father of violinist Aslan Hepgür, also of the Istanbul TRT. During the forced population exchange in 1923-24 between Greece and Turkey as a result of the Lausanne Treaty, the Erköse family moved to Bursa and settled in the Setbasi neighborhood where sons Ali (b.1926; violin), Selahattin (b. 1929; oud) and Barbaros (b. 1936; clarinet) were born.

Erköse brothers, 1963It was natural that Barbaros would follow in the footsteps of his musical forefathers. Barbaros' early musical experience was eclectic, and he began by playing with his brothers, Ali and Selahattin. He began playing the clarinet at age 12, when the family moved to Samsun. The photo from this time shows Barbaros playing for the first time on stage at the Park Gazinosu. He remembers playing three pieces in this performance; the first hane (section) of a Nihavent Pesrev; a popular Istanbul song, Üsküdar'a Gider Iken; and a tango, Anadomi. During this period in Samsun, he also studied with Remzi Bey.

In 1951, he moved with his family to Ankara. There he took lessons with a clarinetist Osman Özkabak, of the Cumhurbaskanligi Armoni Mizikasi (The military band of the Turkish Republic's Presidency) and learned Western clarinet technique from him. This experience has greatly affected Barbaros' style, which has a sound closer to Western clarinet sound, and incorporates greater use of tonguing and staccato techniques. During 1953-54 he played in the Ankara Yeni Tiyatro Türk Müzik Toplulugu (The Turkish Music Ensemble of the New Theater) and participated in a program of Ismail Dümbüllü, a famous orta oyun (folk theater) performer. Here he played in an ensemble of clarinet, trumpet and drums, performing below the stage. The ensemble provided music for acrobats, dancers, and singers. The repertoire he performed included oyun havalari or dance songs for stage, of which some examples are included on this recording; Çiftetelli; karsilama; 2/4 dance melodies and popular theatrical songs called kanto. After this, he traveled to Cyprus and performed with a traveling theatrical troupe for 3 months. He attributes his wide repertoire to his training in musical theaters. While in Ankara, he also played weddings in Ankara and neighboring villages, performing instrumental and vocal folk music from the area.

Barbaros and Tuncay, Istanbul 1970In 1961 he moved to Istanbul and passed the radio exam. Like many musicians, his family moved to Istanbul because of greater opportunities in the local nightclubs and concert halls. At the radio, he played with artists such as Mesut Cemil Bey (son of Tanburi Cemil Bey), Yorgo Bacanos, Sadi Isilay, Necati Tokyay, Hilmi Rit, Necdet Yasar and Serif Icli. During this period, he was the first to bring clarinet into the fasil ensemble solo programs. According to Barbaros, Mesut Cemil, then director at the Istanbul Radio, was impressed with Barbaros' sound, and thus included it in the solo fasil programs. He also performed with his brothers as the Erköse Kardesler (The Brothers Erköse) in first class nightclubs such as Tepebasi, Kasablanka and Maksim Gazino. This led to the beginning of his recording career, in which he made recordings with his brothers Ali and Selahattin as the famous Erköse Kardesler (The Brothers Erköse). In these recordings, the ensemble presented lively fasil versions of popular folk and stage dance melodies.

While continuing to perform with the Istanbul TRT, Barbaros began to receive international recognition when he performed in France in November 1984 as the Erköse Brothers, representing Roman music of Istanbul. From there the group toured throughout France, North Africa, Finland and Holland. Due to growing critical acclaim, Barbaros forged a solo career and creative fusion projects with musicians from other cultures. These projects include work with Peter Pannke on his Morungen project, several recordings and concerts with Tunisian oudist Anouar Brahem, and most recently concerts and a recording with African-American jazz musician Craig Harris and his group, The Nation of Imagination. In Turkey, he has retired from the TRT but continues to record and give concerts. His own family continues the professional musician tradition, with son Tuncay on cello and nephew Saban on darbuka, as featured on this recording.

Notes on the recording

1. Yalvaris (Entreaty)

This piece in Nihavent makam (melodic mode, Nihavent) was composed by Barbaros Erköse as a result of being inspired by a North African dance tune that he heard in a French disco. Here he draws from Turkish rhythms, including folk rhythmic styles, with a contrasting rhythmic section. The first section is in Turkish usul Nim Sofyan, a rhythmic mode in 2/4. The second section is in 6/8, and draws from Azeri motives found in Northeastern Turkey and neighboring Azerbaijan. In the meyan (free-meter, solo improvisation section), Barbaros incorporates various elements from the piece, such as melodic motifs in 6/8 rhythm. Barbaros also draws on motifs from jazz as well in emphasizing notes that would normally not be stressed in Nihavent.

2. Hicaz Dolap - Ararim

Hicaz Dolap is a characteristic introductory piece, often played for the entrance of a dancer or introduction of a soloist. It also is performed in a sequence of dance pieces following the sarki portion of a fasil. This piece in usul düyek (8/8), of a type sometimes called "Arap düyegi", typically has an extensive meyan improvisatory section in which the melody instruments take turns improvising in Hicaz makam. The contrast between fasil and urban style meyan based on taksim in violin, ud, kanun and Barbaros' dogaçlama is underscored in this performance. In Barbaros' improvisation, one can hear leaps not usually found in Turkish fasil-style performances, and Arabic rhythmic motives. Hicaz Dolap is followed by Ararim, a popular urban song, which is also found throughout the Arab world. The Turkish text contains a theme of undying love in which the singer proclaims, "I am searching for you everywhere." For this song, the rhythm switches to a livelier variation of düyek.

3. Hicaz Mandira

This piece in Hicaz makam, is a dance melody in 7/8 meter which in Turkish classical terminology is called devr-i turan, or Mandira. During the latter part of the 19th century, fasil musicians began to incorporate such folk dances as Mandira, longa, and sirto into their performances, and composers worked with these styles to create new compositions. This particular piece is performed on the stage at nightclubs and restaurants, although the form itself is popular among Slav-speaking minorities in Turkish Western and Greek Eastern Thrace as a dance piece for public celebrations such as weddings.

4. Havada bulut yok - Sivasli

The first piece is derived from a Turkish folk song in Hüseyni makam and Curcuna usul, a meter in 10. The text describes the perspective of a young soldier during the disastrous war with Yemen. Hüseyni makam is largely associated with folk repertoire, particularly from the Turkish Southeast. Here, Barbaros incorporates dogaçlama into the ensemble texture by performing an improvisation drawn from elements of the vocal melody in the opening of the piece, while the rest of the ensemble performs the fixed melody. This melancholy song is followed by an upbeat folk dance song, Sivasli, in Muhayyer makam, attributed to the eastern town of Sivas. In a lively, contrasting 2/4 (Nim Sofyan) rhythm, this piece is performed at the end of fasil performances.

5. Taksim

This selection provides an overview of different instrumental timbre as well as a range of different explorations of the makam, Muhayyer. In this extensive form of taksim, each successive musician elaborates from the makam as established by the previous performer, introducing new ranges, modulations and styles from the basic makam. Tuncay Erköse on the cello establishes the basic outline for Muhayyer on Turkish la or A, moving this to a transposed version on Turkish re or D. He then modulates to Isfahan makam and ends on Hüseyni. Serdar Karacay brings the taksim into an exploration of Ussak makam on Turkish re or d, and this exploration is developed by Onur Yagcilar on the violin. Sener Büyükdereli enters with the kanun on Turkish do or c which leads to a modulation to Rast makam, then modulates in turn to Ussak with references to Hüseyni, and then moves to Karcigar makam in the upper octave. Barbaros' interpretation on the clarinet demonstrates a radical departure in both makam and improvisational style. He sets up an exploration of Kürdi makam, and incorporates motifs from compositions in Kürdi makam in this final section.

6. Rumeli karsilamasi - Çadirimin üstüne - Kara bulutlar

This form of dance in 9/8 in karsilama rhythm, called oynak by fasil musicians, is predominant in the European provinces of the former Ottoman Empire. In Turkish Thrace and Greece, it is still done by lines of dancers facing each other, or in pairs. During the clarinet meyan which draws from rhythmic motifs found in karsilama dances, the percussion perform a version of 9/8 called "Roman", in which the first 2 beats of each measure are accented. The clarinet meyan is followed by a popular urban karsilama in Hicaz makam which spread to Greece, known in Turkish as Çadirimin üstüne. This piece is a well-known urban song which was also performed in theatrical performances as a kanto piece. After the violin meyan, a percussion solo demonstrates various Velvele or subdivisions and syncopations within the Roman rhythm. This is followed by a instrumental version of a sarki (light classical song) composed by Sadettin Kaynak, known as Kara bulutlar in Karcigar makam.

7. Lingo Lingo Siseler - Konyali

This is a popular urban tune in Ussak makam and Nim Sofyan usul. As the theme song for this recording, it typifies the light-hearted playfulness common to Turkish urban folk songs. The song words reflect love, flirtation and drinking. "Needles will not prick/the satin that you wear/ The beloved will not sleep without me/This pleases me greatly/Did you drink raki without me?/ Did you fall into the mud?/The yellow that you wear/The half-empty drinking glasses/Whose loved one are you?/This pleases me greatly. The song which follows is in the same makam of Ussak and is also a popular urban song. Known as Konyali or "Girl from Konya", this song which extols the beauty of a girl from this Central Anatolian town, is also found throughout the Balkans as well as Anatolia.

8. Gayda

This is a composition of Barbaros in the style of a Western Thrace and Northern Greek "gayda", a dance frequently performed at town and village weddings in these areas. The short introduction is followed by working of gayda-derived motives over a slow düyek meter of the Çiftetelli type. The tempo speeds up at the end in a section known as "kaldirma", as is traditionally done for gayda dances in these regions.

9. Kasap

This dance form of urban provenance is likely to have been derived from a dance type favored by butcher guilds throughout the Balkans. In the second half of the 20th century, it has been retained as a wedding dance in towns and cities in Turkish Thrace and Istanbul. It is often performed as the last dance of the celebration, and performed by "delikanli" (literally, "crazy-bloods"- teenagers and young men) with a rapid tempo at the end in which dancers compete to see who can dance the longest and fastest. The first melody in Hicaz is a set, unnamed kasap known also in Greece; the second is known as Istanbul kasabi; the third is derived from a Greek song. The clarinet meyan is structured somewhat like the longa (see #11), in which the solo instrumentalists improvise short motives over a changing drone.

10. Anadolu

This popular urban dance piece is frequently performed at public celebrations such as festivals and weddings. It is also incorporated into theatrical and stage dance performances for solo Çiftetelli-style dances. Using a particular form of Nim Sofyan, percussionists now apply this term for any melody using this version of 2/4.

11. Sehnaz longa

This composition is derived from a Romanian folk dance form and incorporated into fasil performances since the 19th century. Used as a showcase for instrumental soloists, the fixed melody is typically followed by a long solo section in which the instrumentalist interweaves modulations to related makams. In the subsequent drum solo section, percussionists Saban Erköse and Ibrahim Torol demonstrate various forms of Velvele patterns, or rhythmic subdivisions based on the usul. This final selection celebrates the improvisatory energy of Turkish fasil and urban music, and exhibits the artistic talents of the artists featured on this recording.

Notes by: Sonia Tamar Seeman

Recorded on November 3rd, 1999 in Istanbul at Audeon Studios
Recording Engineer: Kemal Cankaya
Mixing & Mastering Engineers: Kemal Cankaya & Ercan Akbay
Producer: Ates M. Temeltas
Liner Notes: Sonia Tamar Seeman
Graphic Design: Siir Özbilge - siirozbilge.com

Photo Credits:
Session photographs: Ates M. Temeltas
Other photographs: From Barbaros Erköse's private collection

North American Tour / March 2000

Reviews Collection

Review by
Rootsworld