Wolf Dietrich

Folk Music of Turkey

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This collection of field recordings was made in rural Anatolia from 1968 to 1976 by Wulf Dietrich. The sound quality is nearly as good as in a modern studio. The music is fascinating, too. Dietrich made a decision to stay away from the big cities like Istanbul and Ankara, where the music has become westernized. He sought instead to catch Turkish music as it has existed for the last 500 years.

Not that he was averse to innovation. One track features an instrument called a cumbus, which is strung and played more or less like an oud but with the body of a banjo, with its round, screw-tightened resonating membrane. This instrument was only developed between the world wars, and is a real treat to listen to. As one might expect, there is an enormous variety of instruments and voices. The voices are unremarkable, but the occasional instrument opens the eyes. An example would be the jangly lute known as the saz, played by Hansan Durkun. Of course, even the Western violin takes on a new timbre in Turkish hands. The Turkish bagpipe, on the other hand, can be hard to take, although it's amusing to listen to its efforts to emit a secret message in its own private Morse code of beeps and squeaks. This is not necessarily an album for specialists. It has enough material of interest on it to justify a purchase by an advanced world music listener who want to learn more about folk music of the region. The liner notes are informative and well-written.

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