Yitik Sesin Peşinde. KANTEMİROĞLU
In Search of the Lost Sound / Bezmârâ


Kalan Music 161

1. Arazbar Peşrev, fahte / NEFİRÎ BEHRAM   [5:15]
çeng, ud, kopuz, şehrud, kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

2. Hüseynî Peşrev, zencîr / GAZİ GİRAY HAN   [5:08]
kopuz, şehrud, kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

3. Kanun taksimi   [1:05]

4. Evc Peşrev, fetih darbı / ACEMLER   [2:36]
çeng, ud, kopuz, şehrud, kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

5. Arazbar Peşrev, devr-i revân / EYYUBÎ MEHMED ÇELEBİ   [6:08]
santur, tanbur, kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

6. Çeng taksimi   [1:08]

7. Nişabur Peşrev, sakil / HİNTLİLER   [6:16]
çeng, kopuz, şehrud, kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

8. Çargâh Peşrev, devr-i kebir / DERVİŞ MUSTAFA   [5:46]
santur, tanbur, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

9. Kemânçe taksimi   [1:14]

10. Kürdî Peşrev, berefşan / TANBURÎ ANGELİ   [7:22]
santur, tanbur, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

11. Buselik-aşiranı Peşrev, sakil / MUZAFFER   [4:38]
tanbur, kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

12. Evc Peşrev, hafif / ZURN AZEN İBRAHİM   [3:52]
tanbur, kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

13. Muhayyer Peşrev, muhammes / KANTEMİROĞLU   [5:27]
tanbur, derili kanun, ney, kemânçe, daire, nakkare

14. Mahur Semâî, semâî / ANONİM
çeng, ud, tanbur, kanun, ney, mıskal, kemânçe, daire, nakkare   [3:33]

Fikret Karakaya

Fikret Karakaya - çeng
Birol Yayla - tanbur, kopuz
A. Senol Filiz - ney
Serap A. Çağlayan - kanun
Kemal Caba - kemânçe
Osman Kırklıçı - şehrud
İhsan Özer - santur
Kâmil Bilgin - daire, nakkare
Tugay Başar - mıskal
Akgün Çöl - ud

Bezmârâ Topluluğu

The Bezmârâ ensemble, specialized in the interpretation of early Ottoman music, owning instruments some of which have totally disappeared, was founded in 1996 by Fikret Karakaya on the occasion of the musicological project whose purpose was to recreate, on ancient instruments, the compositions which appear in various old collections, and which contemporary musicians had abandoned.

The French Institute for Anatolian Research and the American musicologist Walter Feldman hetped to achieve the project. Some instruments, like the çeng, the şehrud, the kopuz played at the Ottoman court, the metal stringed kanun, the pear shaped tanbur and the ud with "cheeks" which do not appear in any museum or private collection, were produced in the style of miniatures or written sources. Some of these instruments had not been used for three centuries, others for four. Nor is there any indication about the way they were played.

Fikret Karakaya, who plays the kemançe at the İstanbul Radio since 1982, has undertaken to discover the technique of the çeng. The famous tanbur player, Birol Yayla, succeeded the first day he tried the kopuz in obtaining a faultless sound. As these two instruments never coexisted, Birol Yayla could play both tanbur and kopuz. The style of the renowned ney player Şenot Filiz was quite suitable for playing these works. Serap Çağlayan, who plays the modern kanun, didn't take much time in getting used to the 16th century metal stringed kanun. Kemat Caba, a violinist at the İstanbut Radio since 1982, quickly reached a high technical level on the kemânçe. Osman Kırklıkçı, an ud player at the İstanbul Radio himsefl, adapted very quickly to the şehrud. The kanun player İhsan Özer was already practising on the modern santur for some time, therefore it was not very difficutt for him to switch from the new to the old santur. The flutist Tugay Başar tried hard to be abte to play the mıskal, a very difficult instrument. Kâmil Bilgin, who plays the daire and the nakkare, adapted quickty to the old rhythms. The ud player, Akgün Çöl, had no difficutty with the ı6th century ud.

The Bezmârâ ensemble, which works on the pieces of music Cantemir transcribed and which had not been performed for three centuries gave five concerts in 1998, including one at the Palais de France in İstanbul and another one in the Topkapı Palace. The ensemble is continuing its research, so as to increase and vary the scope of the repertoire.

Kantemiroğlu / Dimitrie Cantemir

The works performed on the enclosed recording belong to the instrumental repertoire of Ottoman music of the 16th and 17th centuries anotated down by Dimitrie Cantemir, prince of Moldavia, by the end of the 17th century.

Cantemir, whose name is engraved together with those of Leibniz and Newton on the front part of the Sainte-Geneviève Library in Paris as one of the men who praised the ideal of mankind, was commemorated in 1973 in several countries of the world under the sponsorship of UNESCO, for the 3ooth anniversary of his birth; on that occasion, most of his written works were republished.

Dimitrie Cantemir, quoted in Ottoman sources as "Kantemiroğlu", "Kantemir" and "Küçük [Small] Kantemiroğlu" was born on the 5th November, 1673 at laşi, Moldavia. His father Constantin was a voivode of Moldavia. Dimitrie spent twenty years of his life in Istanbul where he arrived when very young, pursuant to the agreement reached by his father and the Ottoman government (the hereditary prince of Moldavia was to remain in the Ottoman capital as a hostage and to study there). He carried on with the studies he had started in Iaşi, learned several languages western as well as eastern, such as Turkish, Arabic and Persian. He also showed keen interest in Turkish music and he made such a success therein, and made such a success that the result was the production of excellent works along the style of the Ottoman musicians who had been his masters and whose compositions he himself transcribed. Cantemir, who also wrote books on Ottoman history, Islam, and the Arabic language, transcribed in his major work Kitab-ı İlmü'l-Musıki alâ Vechi' l-Hurufât, also more plainly called  KANTEMİROĞLU EDVARI ("Treaty of Cantemir") over 350 instrumental compositions of the 16th and 17th centuries, using a system of musical notation based on the alphabet that he had developed himself. These compositions have come down to us thanks to his treatise. However, the important manuscript did not attract the attention of musicians and the compositions written by Cantemir fell into oblivion for nearly three centuries, except for some transcriptions made in parts by music specialists. The Turkish composer and musicologist Yalçın Tura started to publish towards the mid-70's the transcription in latin characters and the translation in modern Turkish of the treatise, but the fortunate venture remained uncompleted. It was only in 1992 that the English musicologist Owen Wright, published all of the compositions contained in Cantemir's treatise, in a transcription written in line with a system currently in use in contemporary Turkish music.

Cantemir, who was proclamed voivode of Moldavia in 1710 by the Ottoman sultan Ahmed III conceived the ideal of a united independent Wallachia and Moldavia. As a resutt, he did not hesitate to set an alliance with Russia against the Ottoman empire. But he was forced to escape to Russia in 1711, seven months after he had been appointed voivode, following the defeat of the Russian army by the Ottomans at Prut. Warmly welcomed by the tzar Peter the Great, he is one of the founders of the Saint Petersburg Art and Science Academy. Also elected in 1714 as a member of the Berlin Academy, Cantemir died on 1st September, 1723 in Kharkov, at the age of 50.

Between 1714 and 1716 he wrote in latin the first Ottoman history based on first hand sources: Incrementa atque decrementa aulae othomanicae (The History of the Growth and Decay of the Othman Empire). His son Antioch, born in Istanbul, a Russian ambassador to London at that time, had the book translated, and published it after his father's death, in 1734.

Abbot Toderini, in the service, between 1781 and 1786, of the Venetian Bayle in Istanbul, Agostino Garzoni, in his book on Turkish literature entitled Letteratura turchesca shows that Cantemir had written at the request of Lâtif Çelebi, the palace treasurer and İsmail Efendi, in charge of the imperial treasure (both of them amateurs of music), a book in Turkish on musical theory which he dedicated to Sultan Ahmed II entitled Kitab-ı İlmü' l-Musiki alâ Vechi' l-Hurufât ("The Book of Musica! Science Using the Letters of the Alphabet").

In the first part of his book, Cantemir gives information with respect to Turkish intervals, modes, rhythms and interpretation, as had been customary in the older treatises. These notes are very important for us as we thus gain knowledge of Ottoman music prevailing at that time. In the second part of the book, we find peşrevs and semais - some of them being compositions by Cantemir himself - transcribed with his own notation system. Some of these compositions already appear in Ali Ufkî's* collected works, written approximately fifty years back. We can profit by this new rendering by comparing the small changes occuring in these works during the fifty year period. The two collections are of capital importance not only because they have saved hundred of works from sinking into oblivion, but also because they have come down to us in the melodic structure of the period in which they were transcribed.

The enclosed C.D. presents the first recording of compositions selected in Cantemir's collection and has been made with a particular concern with regard to historical authenticity.


* The real name of Ali Ufkî is Wojciech Bobowski. A war prisoner he was brought to Istanbul, and was admited in the seraglio as a dragoman. Of Polish origin, he converted to Islam and assumed the name of Ali Ufkî. He already knew several western languages and was able to learn to speak Turkish, Arabic and Persian in the palace. Being very talented in music, he had learnt in Poland to transcribe melodies an paper and to read music written by other musicians. As he was very fond of Ottoman music, he tried to learn it perfectly and compose works along that style. He left us a collection of over 60o works, vocal as well as instrumental, some of them being his own compositions. Written in the middle of the 17th century, the collection called MecmûQ-i Sâz U Söz ("Collection of notes and texts") represents the oldest record of notes not only of Ottoman music, but also of all the Eastern
compositions. The autograph manuscript of the Mecmûa, removed from Istanbul when Ali Ufkî was
probably still alive, is now in the British Museum. It is only during the past quarter of a century that the manuscript, of capital importance as far as Ottoman music is concerned, has been attracting the attention of Turkish music experts.


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