Sesen (left) and Bora Yasar performed during the
Millennium's 3rd Anniversary Celebration at
Beyhan Karahan's loft in SOHO, New York on April 5, 2003.
“The morning wind spreads its fresh smell.
We must get up and take that in,
That wind that lets us live.
Breathe before it’s gone.”
-Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi
(1207 – 1273)
an age when books by Sufi masters are outselling other
poets, Sufism is attracting more people to mysticism,
and world music is becoming widely accessible thanks to
the proliferation of media and the Internet, we have more
reasons to celebrate what Rumi called “that wind
that lets us live.”
above is the premise of Sounds From Anatolia. Composer/musician Bora Yasar and musician/vocalist Olcay Sesen
formed Sounds From Anatolia to introduce the indigenous music of their ancestors to the world.
The duo came together several years ago in Gaziantep,
an ancient city in the South-East part of Turkey. They
have since built a reputation in Turkey solely by touring.
Aside from an EP tape that is long lost by now, they have
not released any recorded material; the chief reason being
the difficult task of transferring the aura of a live
performance onto a disc. After relentlessly performing
in Turkey, the duo has moved to New York in late 2002
to take on their biggest mission yet to date: To spread
their music to the US.
From Anatolia utilizes
classic scales and local instruments to create a fusion
of modern day sounds that bear traditional forms of Classical
Turkish, Folkloric and Sufi (Tasawwuf) music. These types of music are played
in the Anatolian maqqam (mode system) and rhythmic cycles (usul) that give musicians more room to experiment.
Accordingly, their live performances cover a wide range
of styles from songs of mystical love (ghazel), hymn (ilahi) to solo improvisations in free rhythm (taksim) and music of the Ottoman court. By fusing
this music with their own improvisational compositions,
they become archivist of the traditional repertoire while
molding old forms into a new form. In this regard, their
music is not East meets West, but rather ancient meets
group uses a variety of instruments to capture this unique
sound. Bora went to school in different parts of Turkey
(West, North and Central) where he was introduced to different
sounds inherent to those regions. He mastered local and
Middle Eastern instruments during these formative years
while playing at family fests and gatherings along with
local musicians. He plays classic and fretless guitar,
(a long-necked plucked lute with frets), flute, and kopuz (a different kind of baglama with 3 strings). Olcay accompanies with
the classic guitar.
From Anatolia have
been influenced by a wide array of artists including Erkan
Ogur (pioneer of the fretless guitar and a huge influence
in the field), the Armenian duduk player Djivan Gasparyan,
13th century poet Yunus Emre who perpetuated
the tradition of dervish lodge (tekke) and Goksel Baktagir. Their dream is to produce an opera that
will cover the musical traditions and instruments of the
different ethnicities, societies and tribes of Asia Minor
throughout history from Greeks to Romans, from Ottomans
to Armenians, Jews, and Kurds.
group took their evocative tones of acoustic Turkish instruments
and delicate ornamentations on stage when they first performed
in the US at the Palisades Park Library in NJ. Soothing
and hypnotic, they provide both a pleasant listening experience
and a window into a vanishing culture. Having completed
their mission in Turkey, their next goal is to introduce
to the people of America their heritage, their music;
the Sounds From Anatolia.
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