Articles:

Ahenk: Turkish Delights, Elliott Simon, All About Jazz, January 2007

Walnut Creek: Turkish expatriate rediscovers roots in Ottoman Music, Jeff Kaliss, San Francisco Chronicle, September 2, 2005

Music of Ahenk Duo

Ahenk brilliantly documents the timelessness of Turkish art music while highlighting two of its tradition's greatest living exponents - Derya Turkan (kemence), and Murat Aydemir (tanbur). Within the sonically realistic space of a studio in Istanbul, the pair deliver a stunning performance of classical Turkish genres both composed and improvised, including the peshrev, taksim, and saz.

Derya and Murat are master musicians displaying fluid collective empathy, sensitivity to rhythmic and melodic nuance, and natural instincts for the beauty of instrumental timbre. Moreover, the performers induce a uniquely sensorial, virtually embodied visceral affect which, while distinctive to Turkish art music reception interestingly resembles the rasa experience in Hindustani and Carnatic cultures of India (to where, not by coincidence, key musical practices and theoretical concepts from West Asian classical traditions, including those of the Turkish Empire, historically diffused and evolved).

Derya and Murat’s instruments of specialization, the tanbur – a plucked, long neck lute, and kemence - a bowed, spike fiddle, are chordophones (stringed instruments) having deep Turkish/Ottoman roots with close relatives abundant throughout many regions of West Asia and North Africa. Turkish classical, or court music traditions, are distinguished from their Arabic and Persian neighbors by a unique resource of prescriptive, compositional modes or templates known as makam. Makam marks the identity of a piece. It organizes, stratifies, and regulates basic compositional parameters such as pitch, scale, register, time, and by extension, meter and loudness.

Yet importantly Makam also galvanize freer, idiosyncratic, often virtuostic displays of musical improvisations in the form of taksim, which the duo here utilize strikingly. It is the seamless balancing of such extemporized taksim movements with the stricter compositional structures of peshrev and saz that generate the overall flow and form of Ahenk.

Especially noteworthy is the musician's controlled, ensemble understatement and judicious employment of musical silence. Accordingly, Derya and Murat offer lean, melodic themes and careful doses of musical rest which attracts welcome attention to instrumental sonority - that sublime quality of tone color rendering this music so absorbingly lucid and sonically unique. In sum, Ahenk is a generous addition to the catalog of Turkish classical music. It is superbly recorded and represents a sterling degree of present day musical artistry cultivated by centuries of aesthetic and cultural tradition. Highly recommended.

Stephen Mamula
New York City, November 2007

About Ahenk Duo ~ by Cengiz Onural, musician & composer

Classical Turkish Music, Traditional Turkish Music, Ottoman Music or whatever else terminology is used, they all point to the phasing-by art of bygone days: a specific and a vast art of a vast empire, namely Ottoman Empire. In Turkey or elsewhere in the world, this music is regarded as an old times art and performed merely by experts of it and its followers are limited to knowledgeable people of that specific culture. The new cultural era of our days, which is western culture and its everyday life aspects, is taking over the traditional descendent. Not only the music changes in Turkey, but the language changes also, the culinary customs change also and so on...

The Classical Turkish Music has a unique modal system, based on unequal intervals consisting an octave. This asymmetry of unequal intervals, once perceived by the listener creates its own realm and takes one to its far space of its own. However, it is not easy to comprehend and perform this music because of its asymmetry, which indeed gives its special color. Even in Turkey, these days there are not many musicians who would resist to modern behavior and perform completely out of well tempered, symmetric system and stick to the traditional one. Murat Aydemir and Derya Türkan do it extremely well and moreover, they do it in a synergy.

These two masters of our times, they keep the masters' chain ongoing God knows how many centuries. Unlikely their precedents, they have graduated from conservatory, which can be regarded as a criteria of academic universality and maturity, but on the other hand which does not exist as an institution in the tradition. But these two genius musicians have combined the power of the academic education and the treasure of the traditional one to one teaching method (which Turks call “meshk”). But they also added their soul and their rarely encountered talent.

Finally two albums they have recorded, Ahenk Volume 1 and Ahenk Volume 2 are two of more eligible, extraordinary and traditional albums of modern times in Classical Turkish Music.

Cengiz Onural

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