Turkish music at its best: Cem Karaca

Bindik Bir Alamete Gidiyoz Kıyamete

For millions of Turks the musician Cem Karaca, who has died of a heart attack aged 58, was a phenomenon who, for nearly four decades mirrored the transformations of his homeland, displayed resolute unwillingness to accept the dead hand of authority, and embodied aspirations for peace and social justice.

The rock singer – who had a voice of extraordinary forcefulness – became successively a leader of the left, a fugitive from Turkey’s military government in the 1980s, and finally an advocate of coexistence between Turkey’s secularists and Islamists. Through his music he reached out to the people of Anatolia and bridged the gap between them and the musical life of Istanbul’s western-oriented middle classes. –The Guardian

MWE: Eclectic Turkish Folk Music

Based in San Francisco, CA, MWE puts a modern and eclectic twist on Turkish and Balkan folk music. As a five member acoustic wind ensemble, MWE plays traditional and original songs with the rarely paired clarinet and the double-reeded zurna. Add one more clarinet, a saxophone , and a davul (a shoulder slung marching drum), and you’re about the closest to heavy metal you can get without amplification. MWE’s shows are loud, wild, and raucous affairs known for drawing entire audiences to their feet in one song or less.

MWE has performed at many of the Bay Area’s world music venues such as Ashkenaz, Amnesia, the Red Poppy, and Yoshi’s Lounge to name a few.

More on their website mweband.com


A common way to kickoff an extremely intense and romantic relationship in Turkey is a dude calling a girl on the phone and never ever saying a word – letting the sound of breath just linger. Awkwardness? That’s just how we roll… And who cares?

But the moment I write that, it hits me that it has to be global thing. And this cutie pie addressed it in the 70s. We only got to know about it when we were passing by this sliced pizza place in Istanbul the other day. Shazam was helpless so I had to walk in and start up an entertaining chat so that they’d tell me the name.

“Alo, konuş, konuş benimle”

And of course, they gave me the wrong name. But that didn’t stop me from getting to the bottom of it by careful research and then I played it out on the streets right after I bought a beer for me and my buddy and downed it while doing all kinds of people-watching.

Provided by unlistened.com

Kumru Ballad Fazıl Say

Kumru’ Ballade by the amazing Turkish pianist/composer Fazıl Say.

Fazıl wrote this ballade for her daughter. He usually plays this piece on the piano himself but this orchestral version is also a pleasure to listen to.

I also strongly recommend you to check out his last symphony named UNIVERSEkeyword: Kumru Ballad Fazıl Say

Fazıl Say wrote his first piece – a piano sonata – as early as 1984, at the age of fourteen, when he was a student at the Conservatory of his home town Ankara. –Source

Fazil Say is not merely a pianist of genius; undoubtedly he will be one of the greatest artists of the twenty-first century. (Le Figaro, Paris) keyword: Kumru Ballad Fazıl Say

See more at Fazıl Say’s website: fazilsay.com keyword: Kumru Ballad Fazıl Say

In addition to the modern European instrumentarium, Say also makes frequent and deliberate use in these compositions of instruments from his native Turkey, including kudüm and darbuka drums and the ney reed flute. This gives the music a colouring that sets it apart from many comparable creations in this genre. In the year 2007 he aroused international interest with his Violin Concerto 1001 Nights in the Harem, which is based on the celebrated tales of the same name, but deals specifically with the fate of seven women from a harem. Since its world premiere by Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the piece has already received further performances in many international concert halls. Fazıl Say scored a further great success with his first symphony, the Istanbul Symphony, premiered in 2010 at the conclusion of his five-year residency at the Konzerthaus Dortmund. Jointly commissioned by the WDR and the Konzerthaus Dortmund in the framework of Ruhr.2010, the work constitutes a vibrant and poetic tribute to the metropolis on the Bosporus and its millions of inhabitants. The same year saw the composition, among other pieces, of his Divorce String Quartet (based on atonal principles), and commissioned works like the Piano Concerto Nirvana Burning for the Salzburg Festival and a Trumpet Concerto for the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, premiered by Gábor Boldoczki. -Quoted from Fazıl’s Site

keyword: Kumru Ballad Fazıl Say

Fazıl Say – Black Earth

Fazıl Say (born in 1970) is undoubtedly one of the most talented and respected Turkish artists today. He is a pianist and a composer who has gained success on the internation scale both with his tremendous talent in playing the piano and in creating music.

Fazıl Say wrote his first piece – a piano sonata – as early as 1984, at the age of fourteen, when he was a student at the Conservatory of his home town Ankara. And he never stopped creating ever since…

Fazıl Say stands to some extent in the tradition of composers like Béla Bartók, George Enescu, and György Ligeti, who also drew on the rich musical folklore of their countries. He attracted international attention with the piano piece Black Earth (1997), in which he employs techniques familiar to us from John Cage and his works for prepared piano.

“In April 2012, Say came under investigation by the Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office over statements made on Twitter, declaring himself an atheist and retweeting a message poking fun at the Islamic conception of paradise. Say then announced that he was considering leaving Turkey to live in Japan because of the rise of conservative Islam and growing intolerance in his home country. On 1 June 2012, an Istanbul court indicted Say with the crime of “publicly insulting religious values that are adopted by a part of the nation”, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison. According to Anatolia news agency, Say told the Istanbul court he did not seek to insult anybody, but was merely expressing his uneasiness. The court adjourned the case to February 18 after rejecting his lawyers’ request for an immediate acquittal. “When I read them (Say’s tweets), I was heart-broken, I felt disgraced,” Turan Gumus, one of the three plaintiffs, told the court.”

Read more on Wikipedia or Fazıl’s Website.


The Diva of Turkish Music: Müzeyyen Senar

Müzeyyen Senar (born 1918) is a Turkish classical music performer. Her voice and style has inspired so many other musician in recent history. She is definitely one of the best we ever had and probably every will.

Müzeyyen Senar is by far my favourite Turkish singer. Her voice, her attitude brings so much into a song that when you listen to the same song sang by somebody else, you feel like shit. You know the feeling?

2015 Update

Veteran Turkish classical singer Müzeyyen Senar died at the age of 96 at a hospital in the Aegean province of İzmir on Feb. 8.

Senar had been in the Izmir Ege University Medical School Hospital since Feb. 2, her daughter Feraye Işıl said.

In 2013, Turkish classical singer Senar received Turkey’s Culture and Arts Grand Award, which is presented annually by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.