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Kemence Print E-mail
KemenceA kemenche (Turkish: kemençe, Greek: κεμεντζές) is a kind of rebec or fiddle from the Black Sea region of Asia Minor also known as the "Kementche of Laz" in Turkey. In Greece and the Pontian Greek diaspora it is known as the "Pontian lyra". It is the main instrument used in Pontian music. It is a bottle-shaped, 3-stringed fiddle played in the upright position. It is sometimes played by resting it on the knee when sitting, and sometimes it is held out in front. A kemenche is a bowed instrument, the bow is called doksar.
Its small light weight design allows it to be held up for a long time and in some cases the musician would follow the first dancer around (even dance as well). This is mainly due to the not-so-loud sound of the lyra.


Pontic kemenche

Many folk fiddles ranging from Southeastern Europe to the Indian sub-continent are played by the lateral pressure of the finger nails of the player’s hand against the strings with the instrument generally being held facing outwards. This would include the Indian sarangi and the Bulgarian gadulka. Other fiddles played by pressure of the pads of the fingers upon the strings as is also done with some lyras which have the third or even the second string positioned in such a way so as not to allow the easy insertion of the finger between the strings and the spike fiddles, and there are those lyras whose strings are depressed onto the neck of the instrument by the player’s finger pads in the way violin strings are pressed such as an unusual type of Dodecanesian lyra with four strings, the large Cappadocian kemanes, and the kemenche. It may be that the old dancing master’s kit or pochette fiddle one form of which outwardly resembles the Pontic lyra, was adapted and developed later in isolation in Pontos led to the present form of kemenche. On the other hand, the kemenche may be result of the natural development of an instrument which had, at once time, an elongated water gourd for its body. Compare the from south Afghina with the kemenche/Pontic lyra.

The center of lyra playing activity seems to have been the district of Trabzon and the contiguous areas of the districts to the west and east of it as well as to the south, Giresun, Rize, and Gümüşhane whose main town was Arghyrόpolis. As one moves west past Tirebolu towards Kerasounta/Giresun, the number of lyra players begins to decrease and the lute as well as the violin (keman) and tambourine (tef) begin playing a more important role in Pontic music. Further west into the districts of the Kotyora/Ordu and before reaching the town of Samsun the lyra has virtually disappeared so that Bafra, whose inhabitants were Turkish speaking Pontics, one finds the violin (kemane), the clarinet(gırnata), lute (Ud), and bass drum (davul) as the main musical instruments, Sinope/Sinop and its environs is not usually considered in recent tradition.

Moving east of Trabzon, the picture is much the same. After Rize, the kemenche being facing competition from the bagpipes (Pontic dankiyo/tulum)).


Tuning

The lyra usually has three strings which have several tunings. Common tunings include: a-a-d, e-a-d, and many others in 4ths (the strings are of 2 octaves ... La, Mi, Ci). Since the instrument was often played alone, the tuning was often done according to the preference of the musician and his voice's range.

The musicians usually play two or all three strings at the same time, utilizing the open string(s) as a sort of drone to the melody. Sometimes they play the melody on two strings at once, giving a primitive harmony in fourths. They tend to play with many trills and embellishments, and with the unusual harmonies. Old strings were made from dried entrails but now metal strings are used (guitar and violin)


Lyra

The term lyra seems to correspond to the name given, during the Byzantine era, to the same instrument which is common today, in all its variations, throughout a vast area of the Mediterranean and the Balkans. The lyra is very similar to that made and played in Crete, except that in Crete, instrument-making has been influenced by that of the violin. The "primitive" lyra of Karpathos, and specifically that of Olympos, is made from a single block of wood, sculpted into a pear-shaped body. The slightly rounded body of lyra is prolonged by a neck ending on the top in a block which is also pear-shaped or spherical. In that, are set the pegs facing and extending forward.

Currently, numerous models tend to integrate, for decorative reasons, the shape of the scroll, the finger board and other morphology of some secondary characteristics of the violin. However, one can still see that the lyra played in Olymbos maintains the "primitive" lyra design, playing, and sound characteristics. This version preserves the proportions of the box and a type of bow-making which give it a sound quite distinct from that of the Cretan lyra. From the organologic point of view, it is in fact an instrument belonging to the family of bowed lutes (like the rebab from the Middle east), but the designation lyra may constitute a terminological survival relating to the performing method of an ancient Greek instrument. An interesting detail concerns the playing technique: The strings are never pressed from above with the flesh of the finger such as in the violin but touched by the nails laterally.

The lyra is played held in vertical position with the base set on the left knee. The short bow, whose horsetail hair is somewhat slack, is covered with small bells which provide an additional rhythmic interest, particularly if the instrument is played alone. And that is the reason why bells were installed on the bow. The laouto accompanying in Karpathos didn’t take place until the beginning of the century. Up to that time, lyra played alone or along with the tsambouna during the dancing portions of an event, therefore the lyra player provided some additional means of rhythm by adding those bells on the bow.

There are three strings which are tuned to the notes LA-RE-SOL (or A3-D3-G3), but the tuning is variable and generally higher. The central chord, serves mostly as a drone but not in all cases. The first is touched to produce the highest five notes, and the third is played empty, so as to complete the basic hexachord. Thus, along with the tsambouna(Gaida), it shares a certain conceptual analogy, but in its case, it is possible to distinguish between three modal scales which alternate in accordance with different blocks of melodic phases. It suffices to note that with the lyra, the "neutral" third of the tsambouna subdivides into two distinct thirds (minor and major), and that, if the first two scales can be used in a concomitant way with the tsambouna, the last, which allows for the augmentation of the fourth degree excludes this possibility.

The performance of the dance Sousta, which is more complex, also includes the inversion of roles between strings in the playing of the drone and melodic line, as well as the addition of a melodic seventh degree of the scale, thus making it impossible to perform on the tsambouna


Kabak Kemane (Gourd violin)

Kabak Kemane is a bowed Turkish folk instrument. Shows variation according to regions and its form. It is known that instruments known as Kabak, Kemane, Iklıg, Rabab, Hegit at Hatay province, Rubaba in Southeastern Turkey, Kamancha in Azerbaijan and Gicak, Giccek or Gijek,Ghaychak among the central Asian Turks all come from the same origin.

Its body or the tekne part is generally made from vegetable marrow but wooden ones are also common. The sap is from hard woods. There is a thin wooden or metal rod underneath the body which is placed on the knee and enables the instrument to move to the left and right. The bow is made by tying horse hair on two ends of a stick. Previously strings made from gut called Kiriş were used which were replaced by metal ones at the present.

Kabak kemane is an instrument without pitches and produces all types of chromatic sounds easily. Its sound sis suitable for long plays and can be used for legato, Staccato and Pizzicato paces.


Kemençe is a much loved musical instrument of classical Ottoman-Turkish music with its characteristic timbre, which is quite different from that of the Western violin. The present disks gather together a considerable number of kemençe recordings. The purpose of this anthology is to give an idea of the past performance on the kemençe.

Turkish music has two different kemençes: the present one, which has a pearlike shape, and the Black Sea kemençe, which is used in the eastern Black Sea region as a local folk musical instrument.

The pearlike kemençe is a three-stringed bowed instrument. The strings are tuned to yegâh, rast and neva tones, or in Western terms (A), (d) and (a) respectively. It is a rather difficult musical intrument to play. The main difficulty comes from its characteristic manner of playing it, a manner which is not practised in other bowed musical instruments. The musician does not touch his fingers on the strings as on the violin but his fingernails by placing the fingers between the strings. The two strings are of equal length but the middle one is longer, a peculiarity which makes it necessary to use asymmetrical positions. Another difficulty is in that the performer needs great practice and experience to be able to produce the tones in the third, that is the highest octave.

As a matter of fact, the pearlike kemençe was originally, too, a folk musical instrument until the end of the late nineteenth century. It was used in İstanbul, Thrace, and also in the Aegean islands, especially in Crete in urban folk music.

We know that the kemençe was a very popular instrument in İstanbul in the eighteenth century. It was possible to hear kemençe music in the public taverns of Galata during this century. Prior to the twentieth century the kemençe was played together with the lavta, Turkish version of the European lute. Kemençe was used as a melody instrument, the lavta being the rhythmic element of the duo.

Kemençe and lavta were the chief musical instruments of köçek and tavşan takımları, that is, urban folk dance groups of old İstanbul. Towards the end of the nineteenth century the kemençe was introduced into the fasıl music, classical or urban Ottoman music. The first musician to have played the kemençe in a fasıl ensemble is Vasil (1845-1907), an Ottoman Greek musician who played the kemençe with great artistic skill as it has been referred to in the sources of those days. However, Vasil did not make music for records. He played only for cylinders, but nobody has so far been able to procure any of his cylinder recordings. The first performer of the kemençe after Vasil is Tanburî Cemil, who made many records for the Orfeon Company in which he used the kemençe apart from the tanbur, lavta, violoncello and bowed tanbur.

The earliest kemençe recordings of Cemil Bey begin to appear at the very beginning of the twentieth century, which means that the kemençe as a member of fasıl ensembles has a history of one century only.


History of Kemenche

The kemençe of Turkish classical music is a small instrument, from 40-41 cm in length, and 14-15 cm wide. Its body, reminiscent of half a pear, ıts ellptical pegbox (‘kafa’ or head), and its neck (‘boyun’) are carved and shaped from a single piece of wood. On its face are two large (4x3 cm) D-shaped soundholes, with the rounded sides facing out. The holes are approximately 25 mm apart. The bridge is placed between these holes, one side of it resting on the face of the instrument, and the other on the sound post. On the back side of the instrument there is a ‘back channel’ (‘sırt oluğu’). This channel begins from a triangular raised area (‘mihrap’) which is an extension of the neck and extends to the middle of the head, widens in the middle, and ends in a point near the tailpiece (“kuyruk takozu”). Each of the gut or metal strings, attached to the tailpiece, passes over the bridge and is wound onto its own peg. There is no nut to equalize the vibrating lengths of the strings. The three strings are tuned to yegâh (low re), rast (sol) and neva (high re). All the strings are of gut, but the yegâh string is silver-wound. Today there are players who use synthetic raquet strings, aluminum-wound gut or synthetic silk strings, or chrome-wound steel violin strings. The pegs, which are from 14-15 cm long and rest on the chest during playing, form the points of a triangle on the head. Thus the middle string is 37-40 mm longer than the strings to either side of it. The vibrating lengths (that is, the portion between the bridge and the tuning pegs) of the short strings are from 25.5-26 cm. The sound post, which transmits the vibration of the strings to the back of the instrument -located under the neva string- is placed between the bridge and the back. A small hole 3-4 mm in diameter is bored in the back, directly below the bridge.

Earlier, the head, neck and back channel were generally made of ivory, mother-of-pearl or tortoise shell inlay. Some kemençes made for the palace or mansions by great masters such as Büyük İzmitli or Baron, had backs, and even the edges of the sound holes, completely covered by mother-of-pearl, ivory or tortoiseshell inlay, or engraved and inlaid motifs.

It can be said that the kemençe is the most heavily decorated of the Turkish instruments.

The kemençe is played either with the tailpiece on the left knee and the tuning pegs supported on the chest, or held between the knees. The strings are seven to ten millimeters above the fingerboard, and thus the different notes are played not by pressing the fingertips on the strings as in most string instruments, but rather by pushing lightly from the side with the fingernails. Because in the fourth position (muhayyer) the pitches are very close together, the likelihood of hitting a wrong note is very high. The bow is approximately sixty centimeters long, and the tension of the bowhairs can be increased or decreased during playing with the middle finger of the right hand.

The word ‘kemençe’, which means ‘small bow’ or ‘small bowed instrument’ in Persian, was used for the spike fiddle known today as the rebab (the term ‘spike fiddle’ in organology is the common name for bowed instruments with a body generally in the shape of a cut globe, and a long cylindrical neck that passes through the body, which are played upright). The kemânçe, also kalled kemân, was the only bowed instrument used in Turkish classical music up until the eighteenth century. The kemânçe was replaced by the European viola d’amore (known in Turkish as sinekemanı, or ‘breast fiddle’), and later by the European violin. The pear-shaped kemençe entered the classical ensemble towards the middle of the nineteenth century.

Before it entered the classical ensemble, the name of the pear-shaped kemençe was ‘lyra’ (in Greece, where it has become very popular in recent years, it is known as the the ‘politiki lyra’, which means ‘City lyra’, that is, the Istanbul lyra). The lira was already in use by the Byzantines in the tenth century. A definite proof of this is that the Arab historian El-Mes’udî (- app. 957) wrote “The Byzantine lyra is the Arab rebab.” Also, in the Glossarium Latino-Arabicum, an Arabic-Latin dictionary written in the eleventh century, the definition for ‘rebab’ is ‘lyra’. In addition, when El-Mes’udî’s words are added to İbn Hurdazbih’s statement to the effect that “the counterpart to the rebab is pear-shaped,” the conclusion must be that the pear-shaped kemençe was in use among the Arabs during the early eleventh century at the very latest. The fact that Abdülkadir Merâgî called the bowed instrument resembling the rebab the ‘kemançe-i oğuz’, (Oğuz kemançe, the Oğuz being a Turkish tribe) and the pear-shaped kemençe the ‘kemânçe-i rumî’ (Greek/Roman kemançe), would make us think that the lyra was used not only by the Arabs but also by the Iranians and the Turks up until the beginning of the fifteenth century at the earliest. However no instrument resembling the kemençe appears in either Ottoman, Arab or Iranian miniatures. Neither do any written sources from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries make any mention of the pear-shaped kemençe. The oldest known illustration of the instrument is in Hızır Ağa’s book, Tefhîmu’l-Makamât fî tevlîdi’n-nagamât (1760?). The caption under this illustration is ‘kemân-i kıptî’ (gypsy violin). It is not surprising that Hızır Ağa gives the name ‘keman’ to this instrument, because the term ‘keman’ was the general name for bowed instruments in Ottoman Turkish; and the adjective ‘kıptî’ is a sign that the instrument had not yet entered the classical ensemble. The picture in Blainville’s book (1767) with the caption ‘three-stringed lyra’ does not appear as realistic as that depicted by Niebuhr in 1774. The lyra in this picture, which Laborde depicts in the same way as Niebuhr, with its small holes in the face and long neck, is identical to folk instruments encountered in the present day in the south of Italy (Calabria), on the Aegean islands (especially in Crete), in the Balkans and in some towns and villages of Turkey.

Instruments resembling the pear-shaped kemençe were used from the tenth century on in Europe as well. Organologists consider these instruments, which are known generically as rebecs, to have developed from either the Byzantine lyra or the Moroccan rebab (the root of the word ‘rebec’ is ‘rebab’). No light has yet been shed on the relationship between the lyra and the Moroccan rebab.

Like its name, the shape, dimensions and number of strings of the ‘rebecs’ did not change throughout the middle ages. Though the number of strings is generally three, single-string, as well as 2, 4, 5 and even 6-string rebecs have been used, as well as some with double courses of strings. Even before the year 1300, rebecs were made that included pegs along the side of the neck for sympathetic strings. It seems that rebecs resembling the Moroccan rebab generally had two strings. Since the beginning, instruments in the rebec family in both southern Europe and north Africa were played on the knee and the bow held with the palm facing upward. In northern Europe, the instrument was mostly played supported on the chest or shoulder. Naturally, with the upright position the strings were stopped from the side with the fingernails; when played supported on the chest, they were stopped by pressing down with the fingertips. The rebecs, which in the middle ages and the Renaissance were only used in the palaces and in the homes of noblemen, survived in western and northern Europe as village instruments until the 18th century. Today, they continue to be used, known as lira in southern Italy, as liyera or liyeritsa in Yugoslavia (especially in Dalmatia), gusla or gadulka in Bulgaria (especially in the Rhodopes), as lyra in Thrace (thrakiotiki lyra) and in the Aegean islands (especially Crete). In Turkey, it is known as kemane in Kastamonu, tırnak kemanesi (fingernal kemane) in Azdavay, or tırnak kemençesi (fingernail kemençe) in Fethiye. A picture in Enderunî Fazıl’s Hubanname and Zenanname, written in 1793, is sound evidince that before it was brought into the classical ensemble by Vasil (1845-1907), it was played together with another Byzantine instrument, the lavta, especially in the tavernas in Pera. It is clear that the kemence achieved its present refined shape towards the middle of the nineteenth century at the latest. The picture in the catalog published in 1869 by Carl Engel of kemençe that was sold from the Ottoman pavillion at the 1867 Paris Exhibition to the South Kensington Museum in London shows this. The kemence in this picture, with inlay and fine ornamentation, must have been made for an amateur in the royal family or for a professional musician playing in the palace. Tanburî Cemil Bey (1873-1916), who learned kemençe from Vasil and quickly became a virtuoso, turned this instrument into an indispensible element in the classical ensemble, so much so that the kemençe, used in wine houses and taverns just one hundred years earlier, had before the middle of the twentieth century come to be considered, along with the tanbur and ney, one of the most ‘noble’ of the Turkish musical instruments. No doubt a significant factor in this was the fact that its sound was more compatible with the entirely more emotional and sad style that Turkish music had taken on in the beginning of the twentieth century.



Masters of Kemenche

    * Kemençeci Vasil (Vasilaki)

A Greek, was born in Silivri in 1845, and died in Istanbul in 1907. His first musical instrument was clarinet; later he learned to play kemençe from a musician named Yorgi. He performed on the local music scene for many years, playing kemençe along with Nikolaki in Andon, Civan and Hristo’s instrumental group. Vasil, who played kemençe extraordinarily well in the folk groups, brought this instrument to a mature enough level to be able to play in classical music, and it was he who introduced the instrument to the classical ensemble. Tanburî Cemil brough him much love and respect, and remembered him as a ‘master without equal’. In various written sources, those who listened to him say that Vasil performed beautiful taksims, and played his peşrevs and semais with an unusual beauty. They also mention that he was very successful in köçekçe performance, and used a long bow with the kemençe. He also experimented with adding a fourth string to the kemençe. Vasil made no records; he only recorded on wax cylinder. However, as none of his cylinder recordings have been located, it has not yet been possible to hear any of his performances. Location of his cylinders would remove Vasil’s musicianship from the darkness of history, even if in a limited way.

    * Tanburî Cemil Bey

Cemil Bey was an extraordinary musician, who was able to play any instrument he picked up. He played lavta, cello, yaylı tanbur, zurna and several other instruments with great skill. His taksim and instrumental works that he recorded on tanbur, kemençe, lavta, cello and yaylı tanbur left a deep influence on generations of musicians following him. The peşrevs and saz semais that he composed are pieces of great taste, requiring a developed performance technique. Cemil Bey was also a master of the kemençe. After Vasil, Cemil reached a difficult-to-achieve level of technique in his playing of the kemençe. According to the observation of his close friend Mahmut Demirhan, “he bowed his way with unheard-of confidence, comfort and calmness among the very dense and close-together notes of high gerdaniye, high muhayyer, and even high çargâh, playing melodies clearly and crisply, without being the least out of tune, never even a wrong finger placement, and without the slightest sign of discomfort on his face.”

    * Anastas

Date of birth is unknown; he is believed to have died in Istanbul around 1940. He was Greek, and is the maternal uncle of the brothers Aleko and Yorgo Bacanos. One of the best kemençe players of his era, he performed on the music scene for years, and made recordings. He also played kemençe at the old Istanbul Radio in Sirkeci. His recordings have survived to our day; the recordings on these disks display his mastery, as well as the influence of Tanburî Cemil Bey.

    * Sotiri

Sotiri’s date of birth is unknown; he died in Istanbul in 1939. The nephew of kemençeci Anastas, and a cousin of Aleko and Yorgo Bacanos’, he was one of the well-known kemençe players of his time. Desipte all our efforts, we were able to locate only two recordings of Sotiri, but we are convinced that the performances included here will give ample proof of his virtuosity. A few things can be said about his kemençe style: In these two taksims, especially in the hicaz taksim, Sotiri is seen to resemble Aleko Bacanos in his style. One gets the feeling that Aleko Bacanos was influenced more by his cousin Sotiri than by his uncle Anastas.

    * Kemal Niyazi Seyhun

According to his student Cüneyd Orhon, Sehyun had listened to Vasil and been incluenced by his playing, and so can be called a performer in the ‘Vasil tradition’.

    * Aleko Bacanos

Aleko Bacanos was born in 1888 in Silivri, and died in 1950 in Istanbul. He was Greek, and was the son of Lambro the lavta player and brother of udî Yorgo Bacanos. Bacanos was raised in a family with many musicians; kemençeci Anastas was his uncle, and Sotiri and Todori were his cousins. Like many kemençe players, he started with violin and switched to kemençe later on. Playing in the nighclubs for years, he accompanied many well-known singers on the stage and in recordings; and also worked at Istanbul Radio. He was a master of his instrument, with fine technique, with his own unique style on the kemençe; the very warm, moving tone that he coaxed from his instrument, and the deep melodies, are immediately recognizable.

    * Fahire Fersan

Fahire Fersan was born in Istanbul in 1900, and died in the same city on January 3, 1997. She was the sister of Tanburî Faize Ergin, and the wife of composer and tanburî Refik Fersan. She began learning music at a very young age, taking lessons from Tanburî Cemil Bey. When she married Refik Fersan and went to Switzerland, she was forced to interrupt her study for a time, but upon her return home she continued taking lessons from her teacher Cemil Bey until his death. Fahire Fersan played kemençe for many years with Istanbul and Ankara Radios, and made recordings with Refik Fersan. She accompanied Münir Nurettin Selçuk in many concerts and recordings, and was one of the fine kemençe players of her time.

    * Ruşen Ferit Kam

Ruşen Ferit Kam was born in Istanbul in 1902, where he died on July 28, 1981. He graduated from the Turkish Language and Literature Department of Istanbul University, and taught literature at various schools. He began learning music at a young age, starting with violin, and later, with the encouragement of Tanburî Cemil Bey’s student Kadı Fuat Efendi, he switched to Kemençe. He was self-taught, developing his technique by listening to Tanburî Cemil’s records; and quickly became a recognized kemençe player. He also served as an instructor at the Dârülelhan (later known as the Istanbul Municipal Conservatory) and the Ankara State Conservatory. He played kemençe at Istanbul and Ankara Radios from the time of their founding, and for many years served in various administrative positions at the radio stations. At Ankara Radio, he directed the Classical Turkish Music Chorus. He also published several articles and studies. Kam was one of the foremost masters of kemençe among the generation following Tanburî Cemil. He put great emphasis on technique, and played his instrument with a very well-developed, mature technique. He worked with and successfully performed several pieces that were quite difficult on the kemençe, and even some that none had previously been able to play on the kemençe. According to several observers, he explored positions on the kemençe for years, and his technique never became frozen at one level. Although Kam was an admirer of Tanburî Cemil, he did not imitate him, and played his instrument with a style entirely his own. Ruşen Kam’s instrumental works, which he played in duets, trios and quartets, mostly with Vecihe Daryal, as well as with Mesut Cemil and Cevdet Kozanoğlu, are extremely beautiful examples of Turkish instrumental music.

    * Mesut Cemil

Mesut Cemil, son of Tanburî Cemil Bey, was born in 1902 in Istanbul, and died in the same city on October 31, 1963. Like his father, Mesut Cemil played masterfully any music he picked up. Playing cello, tanbur and lavta with unequalled beauty, he also was an accomplished player of instruments such as the violin, ud and def; and also played kemençe. Although kemençe was not his chief instrument, we couldn’t ignore the short but difficult-to-find recording on this disk.

    * Hadiye Ötügen

We were unable to determine Hadiye Ötügen’s date and place of birth; she died on April 14, 1963, in Istanbu. She began learning kemençe from Ruşen Ferit Kam at the music school of the blind kanunî Nâzım. She entered the Dârülelhan, where she was the student of teachers such as Muallim İsmail Hakkı Bey, Zekâizade Ahmet Efendi (Irsoy) and Rauf Yekta Bey. After completing her education in Turkish music at the Dârülelhan, she began studying cello in the western music department. One of the first graduates of the Istanbul Conservatory, she served as a music teacher in this establishment for ten years, and played cello in many concerts of western music. When Hüseyin Sadettin Arel was the chairman of the Istanbul Conservatory, she began playing kemençe again at his encouragement, and played in the performing ensemble of the Conservatory, as well as at Istanbul Radio. As Hadiye Ötügen knew the various playing positions used on cello, she played kemençe with an advanced technique, and successfully performed pieces difficult on this instrument. Unfortunately, there are very few recordings of this great musician, and thus the ones we present here are especially valuable. We believe that the taksim in the makam ferahfeza in particular gives a good idea of Ötügen’s performance.

    * Haluk Recai

Haluk Recai was born in Istanbul in 19812, where he died on November 11, 1972. His real name was Haldun Menemencioğlu; Haluk Recai was his musical stage name. He graduated from the Business Academy, and worked for banks and private companies. He began music with the violin, and later, taking no lessons from anyone, learned to play the kemençe. In 1938, he entered Ankara Radio as a vocalist, and participated for a time in Radio broadcasts. In 1950, he entered Istanbul Radio as a player of kemençe, where he played for many years, and was best known as a radio perfomer. With his fine technique and highly ornamented agile style, full of surprises, he was one of the fine kemençe players of the second half of the 20th century, playing his instrument sensitivly and expressively. In his taksims, passing from makam to makam, he created beautiful musical phrases. At the same time, Haluk Recai was a fine luthier, and made excellent kemençes, tanburs and uds. He also made miniature models of these instruments. Besides being a performer, he also composed tasteful, beautiful works.

    * Paraşko Leondarides

Paraşko Leondarides was born in Istanbul in 1912, and died in the same city on April 13, 1974. He was the son of kemençeci Anastas and brother of kemençeci Lambros. After graduating from Feriköy Greek elementary school, he started studying music. He took his first music lessons from his father, and shortly thereafter was thrown into a life of music, playing kemençe in the nightclubs. He played on the music scene for many years. In 1950, he entered Istanbul Radio, where he played on radio programs until his death. He was a good player with a sound technique. According to Cüneyd Orhon, he used a thimble-like cap on his little finger in order to be able to hit the high notes more easily.

    * Lambros Leondarides

Lambros Leondarides was born in Istanbul in 1912; we were not able to determing the date of his death. He was the son of kemençeci Anastas, and brother of kemençeci Paraşko. He settled in Greece, where he played kemençe in rembetiko music, accompanying rembetika singers on a great many recordings. He also recorded some taksims.

    * Vedia Tunççekiç

Vedia Tunççekiç was born in Istanbul in 1914, and died in Ankara in 1983. She took music lessons from the Üsküdar teacher Bestenigâr Ziya Bey, and learned kemençe from Hasan Fehmi Mutel. She worked with the Dârüttalim-i Musıki Ensemble and the Eastern Music Ensemble, and entered Ankara Radio in 1943, where she played for many years. She was known as a successful accompanist, with solid intonation.

    * Ekrem Erdoğru

Ekrem Erdoğru was born on January 1, 1926 in Istanbul, where he died on January 19, 1985. He graduated from Haydarpaşa Lyceum. In 1949, he entered Istanbul Radio, and for many years he played kemençe both at the Radio as well as in the Municipal Conservatory Performing Ensemble under the direction of Münir Nurettin Selçuk. His brother Kâmuran Erdoğru was also a teacher of kemençe at the State Conservatory for Turkish Music.

    * Cüneyd Orhon

Cüneyd Orhon was born on June 25, 1926 in Istanbul. In 1949, he graduated from the Interior Architecture department of the Academy of Fine Arts. He began his study of music at the Üsküdar Musical Society, where he learned makam, usûl and repertoire from Emin Ongan. He took kemençe lessons for two years (1946-1948) from Kemal Niyazi Seyhun. He played kemençe with the University Chorus, at Ankara and Istanbul Radios, and in the Conservatory Performing Ensemble under the direction of Münir Nurettin Selçuk; whom he also accompanied in solo performances. He served as a director of music broadcasts at Istanbul and Izmir Radios, as well as in various directorial positions. He was a founding member of the Turkish Radion and Television (TRT) Management Committee. When the State Conservatory for Turkish Music opened in 1975, he added a fourth string to the traditional three-stringed kemençe, and began playing the four-stringed kemençe; which he also taught to his students. He continues to serve as a teacher of kemençe at the State Conservatory of Turkish Music, of which he is a founding member, and has published a kemençe method. For these disks, we have chosen two of Cüneyd Orhon’s pieces, one played on three-stringed, and the other on four-stringed kemençe.

    * Nihat Doğu

Nihat Doğu was born in Kuşadası in 1930. He took kemençe lessons for six months from Aleko Bacanos, and upon his death in 1950, he cintinued with Kemal Niyazi Seyhun. In 1950, he entered the Üsküdar Musical Society, and took part in the society’s radio programs. He entered Istanbul Radio as a permanent staff member in 1955. From 1961-1969 he worked at Izmir Radio, and returned to Istanbul in 1969. In 1976, he entered the Istanbul State Classical Turkish Music Chorus under the direction of Nevzat Atlığ. During this period he also founded the ‘Classical Turkish Instrument Quintet’ together with Cüneyd Kosal, Doğan Ergin, Abdi Coşkun and Vahit Anadolu; and performed with them on radio and television, and at Istanbul Festivals, as well as concerts abroad. He is one of the successful performers of our time.

    * İhsan Özgen

İhsan Özgen was born in Urfa in 1942. His mother was an amateur ud player. With his great talent, he learned to play tanbur and kemençe without taking any lessons. He developed his musical knowledge and taste by listening to recordings of Tanburî Cemil Bey. He played kemençe at Ankara Radio in the classical Turkish music choruses directed by Ruşen Ferit Kam and İsmail Baha Sürelsan, and at Istanbul Radio. When the State Conservatory for Turkish Music opened, he was appointed there as a teacher of kemençe. During the late 1970s, the radio and television concerts he played in a trio together with neyzen Niyazi Sayın and tanburî Necdet Yaşar attracted widespread interest beyond the usual music circles. Later on, Özgen founded and directed the Bosphorus and Anatolia ensembles, with whom he gave successful concerts both at home and in several other countries. Ihsan Özgen is one of the most skillful and creative performers of kemençe in recent years. His taksims and his improvization performance in general are extrordinary. In his improvization, he avoids hackneyed melodies; he plays original phrases. He is also a successful performer of tanbur and lavta. Özgen has also brought up fine students. Of the kemençe players of the younger generation, Derya Türkan and Hasan Esen are his students.

    * Neva Özen

Born Ankara, Turkey, 1977; daughter of İhsan Özgen (above). Peformances include Turkey, Europe, Balkans, Russia, USA. Recordings on Golden Horn Records.
 
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