Mus2okur in the Press
In Memory of Şevki Bey
By Zeren Çelebi
Hacı Arif Bey was allegedly an exceptionally exacting instructor, so much so that his students were driven to the point of claiming that it was out of his jealousy upon issuing certifications in composition to them. Şevki Bey learned thousands of musical works from Hacı Arif Bey, who kissed Şevki Bey in the forehead as a gesture of praise. Today I'd like to tell you about Şevki Bey. He has been called the Turkish Schubert. I cannot tell you how honored I am! Comparison of a person to another person isn't particularly bothersome but the fact that this comparison stems from an inferiority complex disturbs me. Why is it insufficient to say "he was prolific composer, producing countless works" such that we have to make a comparison to Schubert. Or perhaps to say "Not to make a direct comparison but he has been likened to Schubert." Of course, this would be akin to belittling Şevki Bey. We must not do this. I would also lıke note that I have nothing against Schubert. In fact I'd like to share with you an exquisit tidbit on him.
Schubert was born in the house next to the monastery named "The Gates of Heaven". The beautiful name of this monastery holds a special meaning for me. I hope to have explained why I am bothered by these comparisons and leave this subject.
Şevki Bey is indeed a crucial figure in Turkish music. Out of his entire body of work, potentially exceeding a thousand, only a few hundred have survived to the present day. His work that starts with the lyrics "Hicran oku sinem deler" in the Hüseyni maqam is popular even today among the youth. The composer of the best love songs... With its lyrics "Hicran oku sinem deler / Olmaktadır halim beter / İnsafa gel ey şiveger / Bir gün olur çağın geçer" meaning "The arrow of separation pierces my chest. My condition is getting wrose. Let this separation be over. Have mercy, end this separation. Remember, one day you too will run out of time" the song was an extremely well-known piece in its day. Easy to learn and free to try. Speaking of which...
Now everyone can learn Turkish music at home
This was a surprise for me, too. In an attempt to provide an improvement to the education of Turkish music, M. Kemal Karasomanoğlu, senior engineer of mathematics, developed Mus2okur, a multimedia encyclopedia of Turkish music. This educational software replaces the traditional "master-student" pair with "computer-student". Karaosmanoğlu explains, "Obviously [Mus2okur] will not replace the meşk (apprenticeship) method. But with this software, someone can get started in the basics of Turkish music and expand his knowledge by himself." A presentation on Mus2okur took place before the Turkish Maqam Music Concert at Dede Efendi Evi. The software allows one to learn the fundamentals of Turkish music with audio, visual and animated guides. You can see the scores and lyrics of nearly 1000 music pieces and play them with any isntrument, in any tempo and diapason, and even sing or play along. That is the product's best feature. You can learn the Turkish maqams by seeing them on the staff and listen to the scales in ascending and descending order, learn the usuls in Turkish music in normal and velveleli form with visual and animated tools. What more can one expect? But this is not all; the program hosts an array of many useful features. For more information, visit www.musiki.org.
I'm sure Şevki Bey's works have been included among the thousands of works in Mus2okur. Şevki Bey is a great composer of the şarkı form. These days any connected musical phrase is called şarkı. Since "beste" means to connect or bind, shouldn't these works be called beste? But I do not wish to insult the rather extensive beste form so we'll leave the şarkı name. Note, however, that originally şarkı is the name of a compositional form. Şevki Bey was a well-mannered person. Following his death, his closest friend brought all of Şevki Bey's works together in a book to honor his memory. Şevki Bey studied with Zekai Dede Efendi but Hacı Arif Bey was his primary mentor. An anecdote involving Şevki Bey and Ahmet Rasim has been told to this day. One day in Şişhane, at the end of a rather painful fall, Şevki Bey found himself before Ahmet Rasim. Even though he was wounded and bleeding, he took Ahmet Rasim to his home. I wanted to tell this story because some things should be heard from the original source. That source is Fatih Salgar's book "50 Türk Bestekârı" ["50 Turkish Composers"], one of the most comprehensive books (and perhaps the first and only such) on this subject.
Is Turkey asleep or being lulled to sleep? Is Turkey unable to wake up? Those of who have woken must wake up the rest. When will we be "us"? It's time to be "us".