“This is classically beautiful
music that in the hands of these two expert musicians is allowed to reveal
its timelessness, while opened up for improvisation.”, Elliott Simon,
All About Jazz
Read the complete review on All
About Jazz website.
A few words about Ahenk’s music...
The Classical Turkish Music has a unique
modal system, based on unequal intervals consisting an octave. This asymmetry
of unequal intervals, once perceived by the listener creates its own realm
and takes one to its far space of its own. However, it is not easy to comprehend
and perform this music because of its asymmetry, which indeed gives its
special color. Even in Turkey, these days there are not many musicians who
would resist to modern behavior and perform completely out of well tempered,
symmetric system and stick to the traditional one. Murat Aydemir and Derya
Türkan do it extremely well and moreover, they do it in a synergy.
Classical Turkish Music, Traditional Turkish Music,
Ottoman Music or whatever else terminology is used, they all point to
the phasing-by art of bygone days: a specific and a vast art of a vast
empire, namely Ottoman Empire. In Turkey or elsewhere in the world, this
music is regarded as an old times art and performed merely by experts
of it and its followers are limited to knowledgeable people of that specific
culture. The new cultural era of our days, which is western culture and
its everyday life aspects, is taking over the traditional descendent.
Not only the music changes in Turkey, but the language changes also, the
culinary customs change also and so on...
These two masters of our times, they keep the masters’ chain ongoing
God knows how many centuries. Unlike their precedents, they have graduated
from conservatory, which can be regarded as a criteria of academic universality
and maturity, but on the other hand which does not exist as an institution
in the tradition. But these two genius musicians have combined the power
of the academic education and the treasure of the traditional one to one
teaching method (which Turks call “meshk”). But they also added
their soul and their rarely encountered talent.
Finally two albums they have recorded, Ahenk Volume 1 and Ahenk Volume 2
are two of more eligible, extraordinary and traditional albums of modern
times in Classical Turkish Music.
Eyyubi Mehmed Celebi (? - 1650)
We have very little information about the life of Eyyubi Mehmed Celebi.
It is speculated that he was a tanbur player. His 11 works have reached
us via the Kantemiroglu collection.
Hammâmîzâde I˛smail Dede Efendi
(January 9, 1778 - November 29, 1846)
Hammâmîzâde I˛smail Dede Efendi was born in Istanbul
in 1778. At the age of eight, he began his studies with Mehmed Emin Efendi
and attended rituals at the Yenikapi Mevlevi Lodge. While there, he learned
to play the ney, but gradually won recognition for his accomplishments
as a composer and singer. In 1797, he became a Mevlevi and soon after
was heard by Sultan Selim III, who called him to perform at fas¦ls at
the Palace. With his sheik Ali Nutki Dede's permission, he became a Dede
in 1779. Dede Efendi's music was well appreciated by Sultan Selim III
and Dede Efendi often performed his works at the palace, and became a
teacher at Enderûn (the palace school).
But soon Dede Efendi experienced many tragedies, beginning with the loss
of his spiritual leader, Ali Nutki Dede. In 1807, Sultan Selim III was
overthrown and killed, succeeded by Sultan Mustafa IV. The new palace
introduced Western music and instruments, placing less emphasis on traditional
Turkish music. However, during this period away from the palace, Dede
Efendi composed prolifically, creating many of his masterpieces. This
visionary composer eventually did return to the palace, but the climate
was less amenable to his music, and in 1845 Dede Efendi left to Mecca
on a pilgrimage where he died from cholera.
Dede Efendi is considered to be the most significant composer of Turkish
music in the 19th Century. He carried on his forefathers' work, remaining
true to the traditional art, while composing many new pieces with previously
unknown ornamentations. His mastery was not confined to a single form;
religious works included ayins (rituals), ilahis and duraks; secular works
included kâr, murabba, nak¦s¸, semâi and, of course,
Prior to Dede Efendi, the lyrics of most compositions belonged to Divan
poetry (Ottoman classical school of poetry). Dede Efendi also used his
own poetry as well as folk songs for the lyrics of his pieces. As a modal
innovator, he created the Sultanî-Yegâh, Neveser, Saba-Bûselik,
Hicaz-Bûselik, and Araban-Kürdî makams. While expanding
Turkish traditional music with his secular and religious works, Dede Efendi
also wrote pieces influenced by the Western music that he heard in the
Tanburi Cemil Bey (1871-1916)
Tanburi Cemil Bey was born in Istanbul in 1873 and died there in 1916.
Tanburi Cemil Bey was an innovator - one of the most creative musicians
and composers of his time. He was an accomplished player of many instruments
including the tanbur, kemençe, lavta and violoncello. Even as a
little boy, he exhibited an incredible uniqueness and proficiency on the
tanbur. His style of playing and technique eventually become a school
of Turkish classical music. Without making any changes to the characteristics
of Turkish classical music, and remaining honest to the traditional structure
of Turkish music, he developed an advanced style which proved his virtuosity
both in improvisation and composition.
With their delicate structures, rich melodies and strong aesthetics, these
compositions and improvisations evoke a uniquely romantic and lyrical
feeling that are reminiscent of Cemil Bey's teacher, Tanburi Ali Efendi.
Whereas Haci Arif Bey expanded the aesthetics of Turkish vocal music,
Tanburi Cemil Bey was a significant innovator in the field of instrumental
music, both technically and aesthetically. His 100 recorded taksims (modal
improvisations) on the tanbur, kemençe, lavta and violoncello provide
evidence of his virtuosity and musicianship. He composed pieces in several
musical forms, including pes¸revs, saz semais, dance tunes, songs
and lullabies. Even though we have only thirty-five of his compositions,
his recorded legacy of about one hundred fifty 78 rpm discs establish
him as one of the most influential of Turkish classical composers. Modern
day musicians continue to be influenced by these recordings, which survive
in various archives.
Neyzen Salih Dede (1823-1888)
Salih Dede was born in Istanbul around 1818 and died in 1888. He learned
to play the ney from his elder brother, the famous neyzen Sheikh Said
Dede. He entered M¦z¦ka-¦ Hümâyûn as a ney player and
worked there until his retirement. Salih Dede was a member of the Mevlevi
tarîkat (brotherhood), and became neyzenbas¸¦ (lead ney player)
in several Mevlevi lodges in Istanbul. He would himself eventually teach
Hüseyin Fahreddin Dede, another great neyzen of Turkish music history.
Salih Dede was also known as a composer. Twenty of his works are still
known. He composed pes¸revs, saz semais, a few songs and one oyun
havas¦ (dance tune).
Sultan Selim III (1761-1808)
Sultan Selim III was the thirty-first Ottoman Sultan. He also composed
music and created a school of music, referred to as the “Sultan
Selim III Period.” He was a member of the Mevlevi Sufis at the Galata
Dervish Lodge. He learned from and was influenced by Sheik Galib Dede.
From this friendship and influence, Sultan Selim III composed the Suz-i
Dilara Mevlevi rite (ceremony) which is considered to be one of the masterpieces
of Turkish music. He was also a ney and tanbur player. Sultan Selim III’s
one hundred eight compositions are in the Turkish music repertoire.
Tanburi Refik Semseddin Fersan (1893-1965)
Refik Fersan, one of the most important composers of the last period of
Turkish Classical Music, was born in Istanbul in 1893. His early exposure
to music was through his father, who was a Hâfiz and a composer.
Between 1905 and 1912, he took tanbur lessons from Tanburi Cemil Bey,
and ultimately graduated from the Galatasaray Sultani School. After spending
years in Egypt and Switzerland studying chemistry, he abandoned the University
and returned to Istanbul to dedicate his life to music. He studied with
Leon Hanciyan Efendi, from whom he learned the Hamparsun note system.
Subsequently, Fersan became a tanbur teacher at Darülelhan (The Istanbul
Conservatory). In 1923 Fersan became director of the National Turkish
Music Ensemble, where he worked for a period of four years as a director
and musician. In 1948, upon the official invitation of the Syrian Government,
he went to Damascus to establish the Damascus Conservatory and to teach
Turkish music there. Only 142 of more than 400 of his compositions have
survived and have been released complete with their original notes. In
addition to his compositions, Refik Fersan has revived long-ignored Selmek
Tanburi Buyuk Osman Bey (1816 – October 1, 1885)
Osman Bey was born in Istanbul. He is the grandson of the famous composer
Numan Aga and the elder son of Tanbur player Tanburi Zeki Mehmed Aga.
As a child, he was accepted to Enderun-I Humayun (Palace School). During
his years at the school, he taught himself to play the tanbur. He gained
his reputation first as a singer and later as a instrumentalist. He was
a Mevlevi Sufi. Forty of his works have survived to the present day.
Rauf Yekta Bey (March 28, 1871 – January
Rauf Yekta Bey was born in the Aksaray district of Istanbul. His father
was Ahmed Arif Bey and his mother was Ikbal Hanim, the granddaughter of
Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha. He was educated at Simkeshane Primary
School, Mahmudiye Rusdiyyesini and Lisan (Language) School. He was very
well versed in French, Farsi and Arabic. At a young age, he started to
work at Divan-I Humayun as a clerk. Although his name was “Mehmed
Rauf”, his calligraphy teacher Hattat Nasuhi Efendi gave him the
name “Yekta” which means unique or matchless. When Dar’ul
Elhan was founded, he became a teacher of Turkish music theory and history.
From 1926 to his death, he worked at the Istanbul Municipality Conservatory
Historical Turkish Music Tesbit (establishment) and Tasnif (classification)
Heyeti (group). He learned music from Zekai Dede, Bolahenk Nuri Bey and
Salih Zeki Bey. He studied old musicological texts and is considered to
be the first person to establish the study of Turkish music. He wrote
the books, Esatiz-I Elhan and Turk Muzikisi Nazariyati (Turkish Music
Theories) and transcribed one hundred eighty works. Fifty of his own compositions
The Tanbur is a long necked, string instrument with the
widest tonal range of any string instument indiginous to Turkey. It is
played with a mI˛zrab (tortoise-shell plectrum). Throughout the centuries,
a variety of tanburs have been developed and used: Tambur-i horasan, tambur-i
kebir-i türki, tambur-i rûd and tambur-i çirvinan. Today's
tanbur was first used by Dimitri Kantemiroglu (1673-1723) to document
Turkish Classical Music.
The Tanbur's body has a hemispheric shape and is constructed from mahogany,
walnut, balsam, rose, chestnut, juniper and plane trees. Its long neck
is fretted and is about 29-33 inches long (73-84 centimeters). The lowest
string is played with the mizrab. The player plucks the strings, the vibration
of which then causes the covered soundboard to resonate. The resulting
sound is referred to as tannaniyet. A tanbur player moves the neck of
the tanbur up and down lightly to produce different expressions and moods.
Today's tanbur has eight strings. Four are made of brass and four of steel,
which are thinner. Compositions are played on the two lowest strings,
called yegâh. The traditional sound of the tanbur is achieved from
the lowest yegâh string. The middle strings 3 and 4 are used as
harmony strings as well as to achieve lower sounds than yegâh. The
rest of the strings are used to produce harmony.
A tanbur can be tuned in a variety of ways. The classical tuning system
generally used is called bolaheng, but the tanbur can be tuned to a specific
makam or even to a composition. The classical tuning system can best be
described from the base to the top: strings 1 and 2 yegâh (re),
strings 3 and 4 kaba rast (sol), kaba dügâh (la), strings 5
& 6 yegâh (re), string 7 kaba rast, kaba dügâh, kaba
kürdi, kaba segâh (re), kaba bûselik and string 8 for
The earliest Turkish bowed instrument was called ikl.
The Turks brought this instrument to Anatolia and in time it came to be
called a kemençe,which literally means little keman (violin).
In Turkey, there are a variety of instruments bearing the name kemençe,
including the Karadeniz Kemençesi (Black Sea Kemençe) and
the Türkmen Kemençesi (Southeastern Kemençe) both used
in folk music. The Black Sea Kemençe has a narrower body with a
more rectangular shape. The instrument used in Turkish Classical Music
is called Klasik Kemençe (Classical Kemençe) which has a
wider and rounder body. All kemençes are played with a bow. Unlike
the classical kemençe, however, the Black Sea kemençe is
played while standing.
The classical kemençe has been used in Turkish Classical Music
since the middle of the 19th Century. Especially after Tanburi Cemil Bey,
it has become an essential instrument of classical music ensembles. This
kemençe has three strings; it is placed on the left knee with its
top leaned against the player's chest. The strings are not plucked with
the fingers but rather pushed with the finger nails lightly from the sides.
Engineer: Cengiz Onural
Mixing & Mastering: Cengiz Onural
Studio: Aria, Üsküdar, Istanbul
Produced By: Ates Temeltas
Graphic Design: Müjde E. Çapraz
Catalog # GHP 026-2