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Devotional Songs of Turkey

The great Nubian oud master Hamza El Din introduces Latif Bolat's new recording "Infinite Beginning" with the following statement:

" It is a truth that the music of any people reflects the cultural, religious and geophysical terrain of their world. The melodies and rhythms carry the imprint of diverse influences. Turkey today is a mixture of many traditions, Mevlevi, Ottoman and folk, as well as the more modern impacts of Ataturk's reforms. This mixture of many worlds is vividly apparent in this new recording by Latif Bolat. It is Islamic and Middle Eastern while yet being European; it is religious and secular music both together. Latif gives expression to the varied cultural influences in his choice of instruments, combining traditional Turkish instruments with those of other cultures, such as the piano, Western flute and Indian tabla. The troubadour personality of the artist and the Turkish soul he carries in his musical mind are reflected in the different compositions that he uses. The recording, however, is not merely a curiosity or interest to just the ethnomusicologists, but should be a valued addition to the collections of all lovers of the earth's music. "

This CD presents the centuries old Turkish devotional music tradition with Latif Bolat's very unique interpretation. Most of the material in the recording are from the devotional Sufi practice called Zikr, "remembrance".

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Samples from "Infinite Beginnig"

1) Geldi Gecti Omrum Benim (128 kbps, 9' 56 ")

Sheet Music
Please click on the signs next to the song names below, to see the sheet music of the songs.



Ilahis and Nefeses are two very prominent styles which are used in Zikr ceremonies to create trance. In this long medley, 5 different ilahis and nefeses are put together to obtain such a trance-like state. In a Zikr, participating dervishes would sing the refrains while the musicians and the leading singer lead them from one song to another with an increasing energy and rhythm.

This is an introductory song with improvisational singing. It can be likened to American blues music in the sense that it conveys the same type of suffering and longing. This piece is from Eastern Anatolia where similar songs express the hardships and the sorrow in the region's life. songs express the hardships and the sorrow in the region's life.

NICE BIR UYURSUN: (Yunus Emre, 13th century)
Wake up from your deep sleep,
Look, the caravan of love has already departed!
We are all left behind at the top of the mountains,
All the town-criers are announcing the departure.
Don't you believe that the caravan is leaving?

DAGLAR ILE TASLAR ILE: (Yunus Emre, 13th century)
With mountains, rocks and flowers, let me call your name, my Beloved;
With the nightingales at dawn, let me call your name.

YA ALI YARADAN ALI: (Seyyid Nesimi, 15th century)
Are you happy with your beloved?
People often want to know.
If I am happy or I suffer,
My beloved is still mine-what does it matter?

NUR-I CEMALI: (Sidki Baba)
If you want to reach the Truth,
Hasan Huseyin and Muhammed Ali will be your guide.

BEN DERVISIM DIYENE: (Yunus Emre, 13th century)
The bridge of Sirat on the Judgment Day will be thinner than hair, sharper than sword.
Nevertheless, my soul wants to build houses on it.


(Eastern Turkistani song in makam Kurdi)
I left my homeland for far away places.
It was my throne, my rose filled paradise.
Now in these strange lands, my destiny is blackened by the day,
I am parted from my dear homeland, my golden cradle.


In ancient tradition of Turkish music therapy, makam Nihavend was revered for its properties of providing humbleness to the listeners. In some tekkes (dervish lodges), sufi musicians would use their music to treat patients with mental problems. In this medley, three devotional songs were put together to take the listener deep into the most feminine of all makams, to experience this ancient healing practice from the plains of Anatolia.

NEVESER NEFES: ALEM YUZUNE SALDI ZIYA: (Seyyid Nesimi, 15th century)
The family of Muhammed lights up the face of the universe,
Acknowledgment of his family is the condition for faith.

NIHAVEND ILAHI: SEYHIMIN ILLERI: (Yunus Emre, 13th century) Composer: Dogan Ergin
My master lives in a far away place,
The roads that go to him are long and full of obstacles,
All the roses in his garden are blooming now,
Let us see who can make that long journey to gather his roses.

NIHAVEND ILAHI: ASKIN ILE ASIKLAR: (Yunus Emre, 13th century) Composer: Dogan Ergin
Oh Muhammed, let the lovers burn with your love,
Let them drink the wine of love and get them drunk.
The one who loves you can give up his life for you,
You are the shining Sun for this world and the other one.


(recorded live in Portland, Oregon)

GELDI GECTI OMRUM BENIM: (Yunus Emre, 13th century) Composer: Latif Bolat
My fleeting life has come and gone-
A wind that blows and passes by.
I feel it has been all too brief,
Just like the blinking of an eye.

(recorded live in Portland, Oregon)

This medley combines two ilahis and two nefeses along with a gazel, an improvisational tune, sang over the songs. The gazel is the most personalized and sophisticated style of singing in Turkish music since it requires great soulfulness and technical skills in controlling the makam and the rhythm simultaneously.

USSAK ILAHI: YAR YUREGIM YAR: (Yunus Emre, 13th century)
Let those who really dare
Step into the ring where
The champions don't care
If life ends or endures.

They proclaim Yunus dead and they chant prayers for the lover,
Death is for beasts alone, it's not the lover's destiny.

Oh my beautiful friend, haven't I told you that
you cannot walk in this path filled with obstacles and hardships?
This is the food of nothingness, haven't I told you that
you cannot easily eat it?

KARCIGAR NEFES: BUGUN BIZE PIR GELDI (Traditional, collected by Arif Sag)
My king is the one who created us,
He can speak of all languages.
I cannot be separated from my master,
Even if a thousand years pass!


LATIF BOLAT: (Voice, Baglama, Piano, Bendir-Frame Drum)
Latif Bolat is a native of the Turkish Mediterranean town of Mersin. After receiving his degree in folklore and music at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey, he taught traditional music throughout Eastern Anatolia. Now residing in California, Mr.Bolat is one of the distinguished Turkish musicians in the US. With a vast repertory that includes songs in classical, folk and Sufi music styles, he accompanies himself on the baglama (long-necked lute), and various other traditional instruments from the Turkish folk music tradition.

GARY HAGGERTY: (Oud, Violin,Penny Whistle)
He has been the student of the Middle Eastern music quite some times, specializing in classical and Sufi music Turkey. He also performs Celtic music and appears on several recordings on the NARADA, Eternal Music and some other well known labels. He has been touring with Latif Bolat and the Mevlevi Order of America for Sufi ceremonies and rituals.

EMAM: (Tabla)
He was born in Iran and has been living in the States for more than twenty years. His musical specialty is the Indian tabla. He has studied tabla with master Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain in India as well as in the US. He is the director of Eternal Music which publishes traditional and fusion music from all around the world.

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