STORY OF FOLK SONGS

 

Culture is known to be the most essential element for a nation or a society to stand and survive. On this account, the varying components of the culture is of importance in understanding, recognizing and defining a nation or a society. However, the political boundaries and the cultural boundaries of a nation or a society may not be the same. GAP region (southeast of Turkey) is a place which acted as a gate in the phase of Turkisizing and Islamizing the Anatolia, pioneered the spread of the Mesopotamian civilization, the cradle of the civilizations, and witnessed the establishment of the first Turkish-Islamic States in Anatolia in the history of Turks. Therefore, the region has the material and spiritual heritage of the landed cultures. As can be seen in the excavations in the GAP region like Zeugma and Karkamesh, the region has a strong heritage of the history of some other nations and societies as well as of Turkish history and culture. On this account, Anatolia has a quite righteous cause to be known as “The Cradle of the Civilizations”.

 

It is understood from the excavations that many of the present musical instruments has been known and used in Anatolia since the ancient times. Stringed insturments like ‘kopuz’(lute), percussion instruments like ‘tef’ (tambourine) and wind instruments like ‘kaval’ (shepherd’s pipe) takes place on the seals, mosaics and reliefs dated back to 2nd and 3th centuries A.D. which were excavated from Zeugma and Karkamesh. Furthermore, the instrument known as ‘Zambır’ to which you can listen in the album is seen on the Karkamesh tablets. This instrument was also found in the excavations of a historic burial place (cairn) in Hungary. The mentioned instruments many of which are known to have originated from Central Asia are supposed to have been brought to the west by various migrations and have continued to develop gaining different forms in different lands.

 

Turkish people, living in Anatolia for approximately a thousand years, has expressed via the folk songs all their thoughts, feelings, happinesses and griefs, their experiences on heroism, migration, love and long for homeland, their social issues and all the other things which touches them. On this account, one who evaluates the folk songs only as a genre of music will only see one aspect of them. Because, beyond being only a genre of music ‘türkü’ (folk song) which means ‘belonging to the Turkish people’ has some other special features and importance. Folk songs have been sung for hundreds of years and still live in the present day; for this reason they carry information on the history, the past living, taste, pleasure, tradition and experinces of the society. From this aspect, folk songs has social and historical importance. Folk songs are written and composed for one reason and then passed on from someone to another, from a masterhand to the apprentice, from the father to the son etc. In this way, they act as an important bridge to transfer the taste, thoughts, perception and feelings of the society to the present day and thereby passed on the culture to the present day and to the future.

 

Folk songs express the culmination of one’s emotions. They are originally created by someone and then are passed on from mouth to mouth; gradually they take new forms and differs from the original somewhat. In this case, the one who originally created the song is forgotten and the song becomes the common possession of the society, which is called an anonymous song. Every folk song has its own tale no matter people know or have witnessed to it. When one is all the who for another, he/ she does not see the barries like religion, nationality, laws etc. The tale of the song “Kırklar Dağının Düzü” from Diyarbakır region sets a good example for this situation. The story takes place at Mount Kırklar near the Dicle River in Diyarbakır. As it is told, people who are not able to have children visit the place called Kırklar as a kind of pilgrimage and make their wish of having a baby. A whealty Syrian husband and wife who can not have a baby go there and make a wish. After a while, the husband and wife finally have a daughter and they named her Suzy. In order to fullfill the requirement of the acceptance of their wish, the mother dresses the girl and takes her to the Kırklar to sacrifice an animal on every birthday of the Suzy. Time passes by and Suzy, which is called Suzan (Suzanne) by the Turks, grows up and becomes a very beautiful young girl. Suzy and a son of a Muslim neighbours fall in love with each other. On one of her birthdays the mother sends Suzy and her maids to Kırklar again. The son of the neighbours goes there without telling anyone and secretly he and Suzan has an affair at that holy place. Kırklar do not forgive this affair and Suzy drowns in the Dicle River. As told, the young boy loses his wits afterwards or commits suicide in the Dicle River the next year. After this case, an unknown local musician sings this song and the song comes to the present day as an anonymous folk song.

 

Folk songs vary depended on the experiences of the society, geographical characteristics and topics of the songs. They are like flowers and birds; every flower has its own smell and colour, the singing of every bird is different and every region has different kinds of folk songs. They vary from region to region, from city to city and from town to town as well. The folk songs of a region reveal the characteristics of that region like a fingerprint in terms of the melodic structures and topics of the songs. The main factors which makes the folk songs gain these characteristics are geographical features and climate of the region and the lifestyle of the people living there. For this reason, you will hear a different style, a different way of singing and get a different impression in each of the songs in the album.GAP region and all the Southeast region of Turkey is one of the regions in which songs with free rhythms take place dominantly in the musical life. Urfa and Diyarbakır have a special importance in terms of traditional hoyrat singing in Turkish folk music culture. Hoyrat means songs with free rhythms and with traditional Turkish quatrain forms with word plays called cinas (cinas is giving the same word different meanings). It is sung mostly by men as it is in the hoyrat named ………………. which belongs to the Şanlıurfa district.  Its main themes are love and beau. Hoyrats are sung more freely, more drastically and with a sharper voice than other kinds of songs with free rhythm. There are some hoyrats within the limits of  4 or 5 different notes only and some others having approximately two octaves of registers. The climate and geographical features are the main factors that effect the registers of voice of the people.

 

Henna songs (some henna is put into the bride’s hands with a ceremony one day before the wedding) have strong impressiveness because of their mournful lyrics and touching melodies. In Anatolia henna ceremonies are held and henna songs are sung in almost every region. The song ‘Havalar Ayaz’ from Adıyaman district and ‘Teze Gelin’ from Kilis district in the album are of that kind of folk songs. In each region henna ceremonies has a peculiar tradition and varying henna songs of primary importance. Henna ceremonies are significant because they indicate that one phase in the life of the bride has been finishing and from then on another phase is to start. In each of the regions, topics of the lyrics varies but the main theme is the same and the common intent is to make the bride cry because the bride’s leaving her father’s house and moving to his husband’s home is considered somethig equivalent to death. Whatever the reason is, the bride’s returning to his father’s house is not welcomed. Besides, it is believed that the more the bride cries in the henna ceremony the more happy she will be in her wedding life. Also becuse the henna symbolizes the virginity and joy the bride who has not got henna in her hand is thought a widower. Therefore henna should certainly be put into the bride’s hands. Women who contribute to the ceremony also put henna in their hands but the widow women again are not given a kind reception to put henna in their hands for it is not something to feel happy for them. Henna ceremonies are generally held on thursday evenings, which are believed sacral.

 

The song named ………. in the album is played by an instrument called ‘Zambır’ in Gaziantep district. Even though the Turkish Folk Music is known to be a monophonic music it is quite possible to hear some polyphony due to the characteristic features and playing methods of the instruments. The instrument called ‘Zambır’ in Gaziantep district sets a good example to this situation. As known, the number of instruments which is played in the wedding shows the economic condition of the holder of the wedding ceremony. In the weddings in Gaziantep, the number of the musicians called abdal or aşiret locally can differ depending on the economic and social condition of holder of the wedding. Especially in the weddings which more than one instrument are played, when one zurna (a kind of wind instrument) is playing the melody other zurnas play dem (basso continuo). This  kind of traditional playing is not present only in Gaziantep district; it is possible to see this in the other regions. Sometimes this kind of traditional playing is imitated by some other instruments and turns out to be a different form. This kind of playing can be seen on zambır (also called eagle wing). A continuing dem (basso continuo) heard in the traditional playing of some instruments like tulum and kemençe played on Black Sea coastal region or bağlama is originated from the same method of playing. Doubling the tonic note, playing the subdominant and dominant chords with these instruments reveals the natural poliphony in Turkish folk music. Zambır is named so possibly because its voice resembles the voice of the bees. Its body is made up of two shepherd’s pipe sticked to each other. We are informed that it is also played in Halab and Duden districts of Syria, which are neighbouring the Tuskish border. The register of the zambır consists of nearly six notes. The body of the instrument had been made of eagle’s  wing and of the bones in the legs of storks in the earlier times; then its was started to be made of reeds and today it is made of metal and plastic. The two pipes can be tuned to the same note by putting some hair to the crack by which the sound is produced.

 

The iskan (settlement) song sung by Şerif AKBAĞ from Gaziantep tells the story of migration of the Turkomans and Baraks, who are Turkomans as well, from the Central Asia to Anatolia; the government’s compulsion to make them to have a settled life (iskan) there; the uprises against the compulsions; the strife with the other groups who had already settled there and grief caused by the fights.

 

Turkish people have expressed all the experienced feelings by the folk songs as told above. These can be the feelings of longing,  homesickness, love and can sometimes be the labourer who resents his master as it is in ‘Haşıl’ song from Gaziantep. Haşıl means making the raw cotton thread ready to be processed. Gaziantep has advanced technology in textile industry; however; textile industry initially had started to grow up in rather small impractical shops. Most of the families in Gaziantep had made their living from the textile. The raw cotton thread is sent from the factory to the ones who make haşıl. They fire the material with pastry flour to make it harder. Then the hardened material is spooled and returned to the factory. İt is an extremely difficult work and generally made by women. In the Haşıl song in the album, the quarrels between the masters and the people making haşıl are told.

 

It will seem inconsiderable even if we would  write books of thousands of pages on the folk songs. It is necessary to go and see these regions, to meet the people and breath the atmosphere there in order to understand these songs. We present you a bunch of coloured flowers which are watered by the overwhelming emotions of the Turkish people, grown by Suzy, Suzan, Ezo Gelin with care for hundreds of years. We dedicate this album to the ones whose hearts are still full of love in the blemishing world of ours…

 

 

Savaş Ekici

Music Director