Ethnomusical Adventures

For those of you who don't know, I got the twitch again and have embarked on yet another leg of this musicological journey of self-discovery. The ride started out bumpy from ice, snow and anxiety. The day I left, snowflakes were dancing down in a wiggling motion over Istanbul like a premonition of the whirling dervishes I was on my way to see in Konya. As my comfort zone faded into the background, the landscape outside the bus window turned into highways of vanilla ice-cream with chocolate mud stripes carved out by car tyres. After arriving in the new city, I rushed directly to the Mevlana Cultural Centre for the sema ceremony. The mevlevi dervishes appeared on the arena floor, the orchestra began, and as each dervish closed his eyes, raised his face and arms upward and began to lose himself in movement and music, so did I:

Sufi music (click to listen) is not performed for entertainment but so as to render human beings aware of their dependence on God, in accordance with the Islamic Sufi tradition. Sufi music is performed by wind, touching and rhythm displaying an endless and continuous pattern.

Then it was on to Adana where the greatest gift dropped out of the sky, thanks to my relatives and a bit of good luck. In Istanbul when I was doing online research, I discovered an old school singer named Zehra Sabah whose style I was awed by. I was 'copying' her uzun hava (an improvised cry or lament, click to listen) from youtube for weeks. I could have chosen hundreds of singers but she was the stand-out for me. When I asked my family in Adana if they knew of any singing teachers, they said her name!!!! And took me to her house! She not only agreed to a couple of lessons but her son invited me to perform on stage with him the following night.