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Contemporary Turkish music on traditional instruments. The new CD Karsilama by the Turkish musician Okay Temiz presents a blend of his own internationally influenced compositional ideas with the archaic sound of traditional oriental instruments.
The Karsilama-project was originally set up by Okay Temiz for the 2nd Balkan Brass Meeting in Greece in 1997. For Okay Temiz, it represents a whole range of new and interesting perspectives and the further evolution of a career rich in world music experimentation. Karsilama means “meeting” and “welcome”.
The sound of the zurna, one of the oldest instruments in the traditional music of the Middle East, has a rough, primeval character. Not only is the zurna difficult to play and keep in tune, it is also very loud, often making it unpopular among its player’s fellow musicians. On the other hand, it is especially effective in combination with drums such as the davul-darbuka, a double-skinned drum. Together, the zurna and the davul are the two most important instruments for the musical accompaniment of traditional weddings, dances and circumcision ceremonies.
In Western Thracia on the Aegean Sea, three, four, eight, even ten zurna players join davul drummers and play until the mouthpieces are worn out. In my opinion, the best zurna players come from Eastern Central Turkey and the Balkans.
Ahmet Özden is a young zurna musician who learned to play and understand the instrument from his ancestors. An expert on the techniques and history of zurna playing, he feels committed to upholding its traditions. At the same time, however, he is a musician who constantly endeavours to widen the scope of his instrument.
As in my other projects, I use a large number and variety of percussion instruments I have collected in many different countries. The project thus reflects my outlook as an ‘international’ artist.
Written by: Okay Temiz
The Zurna is a woodwind instrument which is played with a reed. Acoustically it is related to the bagpipes as well as the clarinet and saxophone, except that the latter are played with a flat reed. Due to the form of the reed, it requires considerable effort simply to produce a sound. The zurna player must therefore master the technique of circular breathing, which guarantees constant air pressure.
Because it is very loud, the zurna is a typical “open-air”- instrument. This is one explanation for the fact that it was traditionally played at weddings and other celebrations, as well as in archaic military bands.
The zurna is also closely related to the Iranian tzurnay, the Greek zorna, the Yugoslavian zurla, the French shawm, the Moroccan mizmar, the Chinese sunay and the Indian shenay.
It is played throughout Turkey. The small zurna (cura zurna) is typical of the regions on the coast of the Black Sea. The most penetrating sound is made by the medium-sized zurna of Eastern Turkey, while the long zurna (kaba zurna) from the West and the Aegean coast produces a softer sound. On “Karsilama”, only the long zurna is played.