Music of the East meets the West: Üsküdar district, Istanbul

Istanbul’s music scene is second to none. The number of genres, devices and vocal types come to life within the mix of East and West. Every neighborhood has its personal model – a definite structure, trend, non secular expression, artwork and road life. Music performs a job in bringing the tradition of a neighborhood to life.

Üsküdar, a sprawling neighborhood on the Asian facet of Istanbul, has a definite style for custom and preservation and evokes the extra conservative features of Turkish non secular expression. On any given weekend, one can simply be overwhelmed by all of the scrumptious music to take heed to. It’s performed with the intention of evoking a spirit of divinity and union, or generally, the deepest reflection of the musicians soul.

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of visiting two gatherings. One with a music trainer in Üsküdar by the title of Hasan Kiriş, well-known as a tanbur, however identified to be very versed in virtually any Turkish instrument put earlier than him. The tanbur is a long-necked, fretted stringed instrument of Turkey, well-known for its derivation within the Ottoman Empire, used to play court docket music. The musician should have a really delicate ear to differentiate and play fastidiously across the microtones on the instrument. Not solely is the instrument complicated in its look, however the sound additionally provides a sense of flight from the instrument. For the sake of creativeness, it’s nearer to the Indian sitar, as a substitute of the excessive tone of the sitar, the tanbur continuously resonates with a base tone with its seven harmonic strings.

Hasan Kiriş in his studio in Üsküdar (photograph by: Hüseyin Kiriş)

Hasan Kiriş works continuously on composition, and in Turkish music the composition may be very detailed and should all the time be written in particular kinds. For instance, Kiriş is engaged on making a ritual A chunk that may final from half an hour to an hour, which is carried out through the conventional Sema, a whirling dervish ceremony. Complexity identical Kiriş composes not solely that he should observe the right type for the opening of the whirling dervish ceremony, however in his case, he experiences the transition from one Makkam (or musical mode) to a different Makkam that has by no means been carried out earlier than. Think about the concept of ​​two jazz scales which might be very distinct and even incompatible, however that inside an hour the composer will intricately and delicately change the trail of the music to result in the ultimate level. That is the extent of element current in Turkish music. The information wanted to play, compose and improvise (known as improvisation), requires years of listening and observe.

A method Turkish musicians observe is to hitch mesh, one thing between a rehearsal and a ceremony. In a meshk, a sure collection of items are chosen to elucidate a Makkam (musical mode), to point out the total vary of its variations and moods. Typically in a meshk, a number of makkams are positioned facet by facet, transferring slowly and thoroughly from one musical mode to a different, as a composer may be requested to do in an extended composition.

Meshk shouldn’t be solely a time for musical research, but in addition the aim of elucidating particular person and neighborhood spirituality. Every of the songs is non secular in nature and the lyrics are each delicate and profound. On this means, a meshk is each a meditation on the subtlety of musical feeling for the musicians (and the viewers) and a meditation on a collection of poems that talk of divine love and human future.

Shaykh Issa Nessim Baba, who hosts weekly Friday Mesk at Shaykh Issa Nessim’s dergah in Üsküdar (Katherine Hreib)

A really well-known composer within the Turkish sema and meshk custom is Yunus Emre, who is thought to have composed 1000’s of Turkish Sufi songs. Each as a farmer and a poet, his lyrics converse of affection and land in a means that all the time entails the ingredient of transcending the world and love from man to man. After all, we will solely know what’s in entrance of us, in order most poets do, they speak in regards to the mundane features of life to contain the emotions behind our atypical emotions. On this instance, Yunus Emre composed what may initially be learn as a love letter, solely to reveal the starvation for the depth of lived information: “My title is Yunus, Every single day that passes, it glints and awakens my flame, what I would like in each worlds. it is the identical: you are the one I want, you are the one I lengthy for.” Yunus Emre’s compositions could be present in virtually each meshk, and with this instance, it’s clear that the meshk additionally intends to kindle the flame of its listeners.

Meshk types differ significantly, normally reflecting the tradition of the group enjoying the music. Meshk is normally hosted not by a layman, however not less than by an individual who’s both initiated right into a Sufi order or by the grasp himself. As such, the model of meshk will straight mirror the kind of connection that the Sufi order needs to evoke in each its college students and guests. For instance, if a grasp desires his college students to grasp the musical complexity of every musical mode, he’ll organize the items of music in meshk to reveal the adjustments in each bit that may result in delicate internal emotions. One other grasp who appreciates the excessive power and communal side of a meshk might go for easier tunes that many individuals can sing with none musical information, comparable to easy people songs or lullabies. In every case, the one who arranges a meshk does so deliberately to evoke particular emotions within the musicians and contributors.

Every meshk or composition intends to carry out or refresh a sense within the music, the musicians and the viewers. As we all know, in a efficiency, the performer and the viewers mirror one another. If the musician will get bored, so does the viewers. If the musicians construct an area of collaboration, friendship and creativity, the viewers will even be given a key to entry these emotions themselves.

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