A couple of embarrassing admissions:
- It’s probably true to say that the first Turkish song I’d ever listened to, without knowing it, was the cringe-worthy Aussie cover version (Holly Valance) of Tarkan’s Şımarık.
- I thought Tarkan’s music was fantastic and proceeded to fill home, car and exercise with sounds from Tarkan and Dudu. Sounded to me like an incredible hybrid of Latin and Bangra rhythms.
Eventually a Turkish friend advised me that it was actually “not very cool” to listen to Tarkan, and handed me a Mercan Dede CD called Nar. Well, I tried really hard to enthuse about this easy-listening, mystical, new age Sufi music. Unfortunately, Mercan was quickly consigned to the role of background cooking, cleaning or long-distance driving support.
One day the same friend, acknowledging the futility of attempting to instil the Australian with Turkish sophistication, with a disappointed roll of the eyes and click of the tongue, presented me with a new offering – Ellerine Sağlık by Yalin. “This is probably more your style”. It really was, I’m still playing it today!
The Turkish ney is described as a rim-blown, oblique flute made of giant reed. The words “magical” and “haunting” are often associated with its sound. Ney music is strongly affiliated with Mevlana and features in the performances of the “whirling dervishes” of Konya. The sound is truly beautiful and evocative of Rumi’s lyrical verses.
The first time I’d ever heard the oud being played was a sizzling hot Friday afternoon in Souk Waqif, Doha.
Inspired by this sound, a unique jangly mix of metal and wood, something like the sound of a banjo or 12-string acoustic guitar, I toyed with the idea of learning to play. The bent neck and fretless fingerboard quickly killed this ambition.
And then I discovered the Turkish bağlama. Woaw!! Sounding even brighter, more metallic than the oud, but with a long, straight neck and frets. This is the instrument I WILL learn to play one day! Love this sound. Still not entirely sure whether the bağlama and the saz are exactly the same instrument.
I’m wondering how Şımarık is going to sound on bağlama!