Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sokak Müziği

Tünel, located around the southern part of İstiklal Caddesi, is where music in İstanbul really comes alive. Every second shop in the area sells musical instruments or is a makeshift recording studio. Music is always heard there - on the street or from some inner room of the shops. One of the most surreal memories I have of the city from last year is walking down one of the crazy twisted steep streets of Beyoğlu and suddenly being enveloped by amazing music. I was alone on that street, the music was everywhere and I had no idea where the sound was coming from. I eventually tracked it down to a studio in one of the side alleys, where some musicians were recording - it was amazing and mostly just made me fall a little bit more in love.

Music is heard not only late at night, at the tiny bars which take over the streets in summer and the meyhanes, but at all times of the day, especially on the weekends. One of my favourite films, Fatih Akın's İstanbul Hatırası: Köprüyü Geçmek (Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of İstanbul), has an entire segment on the sokak müziği - street music - of the city. Akın follows the band Siya Siyabend in what is probably my favourite section (and favourite scene!) of the movie. I remember downloading a bunch of songs off their website (available free), immediately after I finished watching the movie - they have been a perpetual feature on my playlist since.

The sokak müziği band I absolutely adore though, is one called Kara Güneş (MySpace page here). I have been listening to them for what feels like eons now (my mom loves them too!), so it was a huge, unexpected thrill to chance upon them performing on İstiklal on my last day in the city. I happily plonked myself down on the ground listening to the music, clicking pictures and having a brief chat with some of them during their break - they were, I think, somewhat amused that I knew of their existence. Of all the music discs I bought in İstanbul, theirs is the one I love and treasure most - all fantastic new stuff I hadn't heard before, with lots of santur.

For anyone even remotely into music, the sounds of İstanbul are truly worth exploring. Akın's movie is great introduction - go watch it now! For people too lazy to get the DVD, the movie is available on google video, albeit with pretty random subtitles (the very first line has Confucius turned into Cumfukius). To listen to music on the Kara Güneş or Siya Siyabend sites click on 'Diskografi' and then 'Dinle' for whichever song you want to hear. To download, click on 'İndir' and then right click and 'Save As' on the 'Link' that appears. Enjoy, and tell me if you liked.


J. Alfred Prufrock said...

I was walking near the Galata Tower last month and saw a recording session in progress in a tiny glass-walled shop. Took pictures too. Now you've named the area for me. Thanks.


That Armchair Philosopher said...

Ooh. I've got to have some of those other Kara Gunes songs! Tracks 3 and 7 were so brilliant.

Its a pity that santur bit (siya siyabend) from Crossing the Bridge was just an improvisation - I must've seen that part of the movie like a million times.

You should listen to Eriyor Dunya and Oy Dunya. Interesting how a lot of their songs are named Dunya.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

oh and check out Gevende. good stuff too.

Roxana said...

am listening to K.G. right now and like it a lot! thanks! and looking at the pictures and reading you, I can imagine what a wonderful moment you spent there on the ground :-)

km said...

Very, very cool.

. said...

12 string!!

Szerelem said...

J.A.P: You're most welcome. You should share photos!

T.A.P: Hahaha - I've seen that bit of the movie a gazillion times DVD is so abused and overused.
Why do you know random Turkish bands??!

roxana: it was great!! And I'm glad you like the music...

km, . : Indeed.

That Armchair Philosopher said...

Why do I know random turkish bands? Oh, renaissance man that I am, its expected surely? World cultures and music et al.

Not to mention they're pretty good :)

Wait, that wasn't a serious question.. Right?

小小彬 said...