22 July 2006

Ahmet the motorcycle bard


On our way down from the peak of Bozdağ, a 2400-m mountain in southwestern Turkey that we "conquered" on 8 July (that story later), we came upon this guy sitting by himself next to his small motorcycle by the unpaved mountain road. He was clutching a saz, the traditional stringed instrument of the Anatolian bards.

Salih Ceylan, our trusted driver (who is actually a professional geographer), slammed on the brakes and we poured out of our van. After the exchange of greetings, we asked the man for a song. The roadside bard, blind in one eye and who introduced himself as Ahmet, happily complied with our wish.


He also let me take his pictures. But while I was doing so, I missed my chance to note down the words of his song. Such traditional songs are commonly about broken hearts, unfaithful lovers, or lovers who have left and gone to distant places. From what I remember, Ahmet's song wasn't any different.

Ahmet did not expect any payment and we did not offer him any; he played as much for his own entertainment as for ours. After his brief performance, Ahmet gave us an open invitation to visit him in his tent, which he said was down the road. Maybe one day, we will hear him again.


budak said...

The composer Bela Bartok (http://www.harvardsquarelibrary.org/unitarians/bartok.html) used to go around East Europe up to Turkey to document local folk music. Is there any current ethnomusical repository for Turkey?

budak said...

In the same link, there's a nice quote from the composer of Mikrokosmos:

"There is life in this dried-up mound of dung. There is life feeding on this dead heap. You see how the worms and bugs are working busily helping themselves to whatever they need, making little tunnels and passages, and then soil enters, bringing with it stray seeds. Soon pale shoots of grass will appear, and life will complete its cycle, teeming within this lump of death."


In the April 2006 issue of the Turkish history magazine Toplumsal Tarih, there is an article about Bartok's 1936 trip in Turkey.

There may be a current repository, but I don't know where it may be located.

pascal said...

Ah, the "Bard." An appellation that is one of my favorite. For, most folks seem to consider the "bard" a jack-of-all-trades yet master of none, whenever a Bard speaks, people listen (or take photos :)