Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dün gece esyrim içinde . . . Last Night I dreamt of . . . Turkish Songs of Protest

"Last night I dreamt . . ." said Marash Girl the next morning . . .  the morning after the concert of "Turkish Protest Songs" presented in Gasson Hall at Boston College  . . . "Or I thought I was dreaming . . . I understood the accent, the pronunciation, most of the words . . . It was like going back in time, to when my grandmothers would be talking to me . . . my Armenian grandmothers -- Yepros from Marash, Yester from Aintab."

From the back of the room came a haunting chant, an ancient melody - -  a beautiful young woman walking down the center aisle, singing a devotional song of the Bektaşi dervishes.

The Dunya Ensemble sings of a deceitful world (Yalan Dunya) --  authority and myth -- sex, religion and tradition --  wine and music.

Here are the lyrics to a particularly amusing piece -- Bektaşi Fıkrası. [A fıkra is a story with a moral, often comic.  It offers the opportunity for satire and is a favorite Bektaşi form]

"Dostlarının baskılaruna dayanamayan Baba Erenler, camiye gitmiş, hocanın vaazıni dinliyordu.  Hoca, içkinin kötülüğünü anlaimak için aklına ne geliyorsa söyüyordu.  Bir ara şöyle dedi:  "Bir eşeğin önüne, bir kova su ile bir kova şarap koysanız, hangisin içer?  Elbette ki su içer.  Peki eşek niçin şarabı içmez?"  Bektaşi dayanamayiıp seslendi:  "Neden olacak . . . eşekliğinden . . . "

"Pressured by his friends, a Bektaşi Master had reluctantly gone to a mosque and was listening to the sermon.  The imam was going on and on about how bad it was to consume alcohol.  At one point he said, "If you put a bucket of water and a bucket of wine in front of a donkey, which one will it drink? Of course, the water.  Well, why won't the donkey drink the wine?"  The Bektaşi couldn't resist any longer and said:  "Why, because he is an eshek . . .  էշ… in plain English, a jackass!"

The Dünya Ensemble -- Beth Bahia Cohen (Yayli bowed tanbur /violin), Borcu Güleç (voice), Robert Labaree (çeng), George Lernis (percussion), Mehmet Ali Sanhkol (voice, oud, neg, saz) -- carried the audience back in time and space -- a journey never to be forgotten.


  1. how can you ever yearn for that world of darkness, that world of injustice, of murder and mayhem. only in the parentheses of life was there something of value. always there was angst, never equal in a court of law, always with the sword of damocles, but in this case, the sword of the crescent moon ready to be drawn and slaughter.

    1. She yearned for the world of her childhood -- not a world of darkness, but a world filled with the love of her grandparents, her parents and her siblings!