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Let There Be Love

by Latif Bolat

It was a winter afternoon with a drizzling rain when my journey of devotional music started. Somewhere around the Santa Barbara Mountains in California, I found myself sitting in my car and crying with a big smile on my face, listening a particular tape titled "Ya Habib" in my little car. This life changing music belonged to the incredible Sabri Brothers from Pakistan. Gulam Farid and Maqbul Sabri were singing ecstatically, pouring their devotion out of their soul. All the lyrics of this "qawwali" singing of Pakistani Sufis were in Urdu language, however my heart had immediately found a home in it, regardless of the fact that I didnít know even one word of Urdu. Now, after almost ten years from that magical moment, I can see more clearly what hit me so hard in the mountains of Santa Barbara; it was the devotional quality of the music, the innocence of that pure dedication to something eternal and Big.

In our time of disposability, anything can be subjected to replacement; our cars, houses, cities, even countries. We use things and throw away so easily, even without thinking how much they meant to us when we had them. We leave our girlfriends, our lovers, our wives and husbands as if we dispose any other household items. We live in a system and a world where any attachment or dedication to something can be considered as "old fashion" or "not so cool". So we keep changing our jobs, our homes, cars; we keep moving to new cities or even countries, we get some strange excitement and enjoyment from replacing everything we have, even our relationships, so easily. This is true for the Western world as much as the old world, like Turkey. The old world is also catching up with the same type of "disposability" and "consumerism" ideals.

In such an environment, devotionalism touched my soul like an evening breeze in my Mediterranean hometown. After my encounter with Sabri Brothers, my musical preferences and philosophical view of the world was not the same anymore. From that open window, I went back to my own roots and looked into Turkish devotional culture and music, with a very different perspective.

What I found in Turkish devotional scene though was not what I was looking for in most part. The Sufi environment in my homeland was far from that innocent devotionalism. It was in the midst of dirty dealing of politics, removed long time ago from its universalist and humanist basics. It is a base which is developed by gigantic poets and philoshopers like Rumi, Yunus Emre, Haci Bektas, Nasreddin Hoca, Niyazi Misri, and hundreds of others. That humanist and universalist base was indicated beautifully by Rumi in mid-13th century with such lines as:

"Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu,
Buddist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion or cultural system
I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one
and that one call to and know, first, last, outer, inner,
only that breath breathing human being."

However like everything beautiful, such ideals also had their fair share from the changing times and many happenings during hundreds of years passed. Today, among the so-called hard core Sufis, Sufi culture is considered as the graduate school for Islam, shedding the universalist base it had once upon a time. There is hardly any difference left anymore between the Mystics of Islam and the Islamic orthodoxy Rumi and Yunus Emre struggled very deeply, not just in Turkey but everywhere else too at a warying degrees.

My humble work in Turkish devotional music is a result of trying to learn from the original masters of Turkish Mysticism like Yunus, Rumi, Pir Sultan Abdal, Haci Bektas and many others. Anatolian culture is a true fusion of many beutiful peoples since the time of Sumerians. In that mystical piece of land, Hitite, Greek, Armenian, Urartian, Arab, Kurdish, Jewish, Zaroasterian, Islamic, Chiristian, Turkish and many other incredible cultures blended so beautifully and created something truly unique; the culture of Anatolia.

This recording tries to reflect the devotional and mystical aspect of the Anatolian culture, accumulated over thousands of years. The deep quality of devotion in these songs is the direct result of this beautiful blend of such devotional and dedicated people of Anatolia.

For this very reason, I would like to dedicate this CD to the wonderful people of Anatolia, from Hakkari to Izmir; with special dedication to my mother Neziha and my father Duran for their devotion and dedication to my becoming a better person in this world. " Ask Olsun, Let there be Love, Hu!"

How to order this CD?
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Sheet Music
Please click on the signs next to the song names below, to see the sheet music of the songs.


ABOUT THE MUSIC IN THIS CD:
In this collection of Turkish traditional songs, we are presenting somewhat different genres. For example there are two folk tunes in the Kurdi medley, from different regions of Turkish lands. There are some Ilahis, devotional songs of the Sunni Sufis, as well as the devotional songs of the Bektashi/Alevi Sufis. There are of course deep differences in their interpretation of devotionalism. However in the big picture of life, I think human love, questioning of our existance, and pursuit of becoming a good person are the main messages in such a divided spiritual world.

The coincidental emphasis in this recording happened to be on Bektashi songs called "Nefes" (same way, my previous CD Infinite Beginning contained mostly Ilahis). The word Nefes literally means "breath". In Bektashi gatherings, ayin-i cem, these nefeses are chanted by the participants with witty and joyful lyrics, as well as very somber ones, chanting the name of Ali quite often, since he is regarded as the perfect human being. Regardless of the dominance of Arabic in overall Sufi tradition in Turkey, The Bektashis consistently held to the Turkish language and perpetuated in their belief and practice some at least of the pre-Islamic elements of Turkish culture. Therefore the Bektashi literature and music is uniquely Anatolian in its imagery and musical sturucture. When I was trying to find a title for the CD, a very meaningful Bektashi greetings, "Askolsun" appeared to me very naturally. So "askolsun" to all!

KURDILI HICAZKAR NEFES:
Violin taksim: Peyman Vessal
Hic Bilmezem Kezek Kimin: (Lyrics: Yunus Emre, Comp: Latif Bolat)
I composed this song for the memory of my dear grandmother Hatice Nineís departure from this world at the age of 93. I will always remember her loving kisses and her stories about cruel French invasion of my village in Tarsus/Turkey around 1918ís. She named me Latif after her husband Abdullatif and always called me "my husband".

"We have no knowledge of whose turn has come
While Death roams about freely among us:
Dashing through menís lives as His own orchard,
He plucks and strips anyone He chooses."

Dost Deyi Deyi: (Lyrics: Yunus Emre, Comp: Latif Bolat)
"My love for my land of faith beckons me:
Let me go away, calling out my friend.
Whoever arrives there lives happily
Let me also stay, calling out my friend."

Eve Dervisler Geldi: (Yunus Emre, Comp: Latif Bolat)
"Dervishes came to my house, bringing their knowledge
which is higher than the seven skies".

Vocals, Baglama: Latif Bolat
Guitar: Tom Chandler
Alto Flute: Amy Cyr
Darbuka, Bendir: Tom Farris
Fretless Bass: Don Young
Violin: Peyman Vessal

FOLK SONGS IN MAKAM KURDI:
Uzun Hava: Baglama and Vocal: Kenan Yildiz (Mersin/Turkey)
Kaya basi duz olur: (from Crimean peninsula)
"I cannot call you "my rose",
Since roses don't live too long"

Guzelim Yurekten Bagliyam Sana: (Azeri turku)
"My dear one, I am devoted you with all my heart".

Vocals, Baglama: Latif Bolat
Intro solo and vocal: Kenan Yildiz (Mersin-Turkey)
Guitar: Tom Chandler
Ney: Amy Cyr
Darbuka, Bendir: Tom Farris
Fretless Bass: Don Young
Violin: Peyman Vessal

DEVOTIONAL SONGS IN MAKAM SEGAH:
Ney Taksim: Ersin Atli (Mersin/Turkey)
Poem: Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
Askin Aldi Benden Beni: (Yunus Emre)
"Your love has wrested me away from me,
You're the one I need, youíre the one I crave
Day and night I burn, gripped by agony,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave".

Ask Olsun Meydana Girene: (Muhiddin Abdal)
"Congratulations to the ones who are in this path of love".

Ben Yururum Yane Yane: (Yunus Emre)
"Searching, I roam from land to land,
In all tongues I ask for the friend.
Who knows my plight where love is banned?
Come, see what love has done to me".

Sahim Ali Abaya Girenlere Askolsun: (Lyrics: Fahir)
"This path is a very special way of life,
It is a unique skill to be able to devote yourself in it."

Vocals, Baglama: Latif Bolat
Guitar: Tom Chandler
Solo introduction ney: Ersin Atli (Mersin-Turkey)
Ney: Amy Cyr
Darbuka, Bendir: Tom Farris
Fretless Bass: Don Young
Violin: Peyman Vessal

DEVOTIONAL SONGS IN MAKAM USSAK:
Dun Gece Seyrim Icinde: (Kul Himmet)
"I dreamt of Ali last night, I greeted him kneeling down"

Seyhimin Illeri: (Yunus Emre)
"Who can eat this poisonous food for the spiritual teacher?"

Uyur Idik Uyardilar: (Pir Sultan Abdal)
"They woke us up while we were sleeping, and they thought we were dead".

Aynayi Tuttum Yuzume: (Lyrics: Hilmi Dedebaba)
"I held the mirror on my face, Ali appeared to my eyes"

Vocals, Baglama: Latif Bolat
Intro Baglama solo: Kenan Yildiz (Mersin-Turkey)
Oud: Tom Chandler
Ney: Amy Cyr
Bendir: Tom Farris

CLASSICAL SONG IN MAKAM HICAZ:
Poem: Seyyit Nezir
Egilmez Basin Gibi, Gokler Bulutlu Efem:
"Like a morning star, you ascended into my heart,
Like the summer shining sun, you illuminated my soul."

Piano, Bendir and Vocals: Latif Bolat
Flute: Amy Cyr
Violin: Peyman Vessal
Fretless Bass: Don Young



My Homeland
My homeland! The homeland of ice and also running water,
My homeland! The homeland of wild grass and also wheat,
the sea and also sea-washed cliffs,
mountains, roses and anger, goodness and valley.
The homeland of horse racing and the dance of the heroes,
The homeland of Koroglu and also Atcali,
The homeland of Yildirim and also Bedrettin,
The homeland of Sinan; but prison's, never!
The homeland of Fatih, but conquest's, never!
Pir Sultan's and Yunus's homeland,
Nefi's, Karacaoglan's and Homeros's homeland,
My homeland! Human's, heart's and soul's homeland,
The homeland of heroic martyrdom and living heroically,
celebration's and sorrowfulness' homeland, fasting's and holiday's.
My homeland! delicious wine's and sinfulness',
The homeland of many rivers; barren land's, blood and spring's homeland.
The homeland of lamentation and songs, blues' homeland.
Your songs are a bunch of grapes,
On a branch of an ever growing grape vine.
They are a bunch of thirst-inducing and yet thirst-satisfying grapes.
Their molasses are heart burning, still yet love-thickening.
My homeland! These are the yeast for your tomorrow, that well deserved pride.

And there is a hidden dagger on your breast.
On your breast,
a hidden dagger
slowly sneaks,
to separate that beautiful bunch from its vine.
.........
Seyyit Nezir
(From Mesela Papalina)


AKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
This humble recording has been a labor of love for me and for many other friends. From the selection of the songs, to cover design, many people presented their talents with so much love and good intention. With their generosity, we put together this recording of fine Turkish devotional songs for your listening pleasure. Here are some good people to thank:
My parents Neziha and Duran, my sisters Mediha and Sebiha, my friends Kenan Yildiz and Ersin Atli from Mersin/Turkey for their musical expertise, Don Young and John Altman for arranging Sacramento City College studios for partial recording of this CD, Tracy Marshall for designing the cover art, Lauraine Bacon for introducing me to the Expression for more recording sessions, Tom Chandler, Tom Farris, Don Young, Amy Cyr, Peyman Vessal for their beautiful musicianship, Anna Graybill and Bob Ewing for their friendly support.


STUDIO AND PRODUCTION CREDITS:
Executive Producer: Latif Bolat
Producers: Tom Chandler and Latif Bolat
Recording Engineers: John Altmann, John Scanlon
Mixed by: Armando Guzman, Chris Capriotti
Mastered by: Emam
Cover and Booklet design: Tracy Marshall
Cover Photo: Kutay Kugay

This CD was recorded at:
Tracks 1,2,3 and 4 : Expression/Emeryville, CA
Track 5: Sacramento City College
Poetry recording: Chris Capriotti/Nocturnal Sun Productions

 
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