Friday, November 09, 2007

In Music, I Insist on Sincerity

By Ali Pektas - Today's Zaman - Istanbul, Turkey
Friday, November 9, 2007

When Arkin Allen, a.k.a. Mercan Dede, released "Nefes" (Breath), the third album in his four-album series of "Anasır-ı Erbaa" (the Four Elements), he said that there was one album left to complete the series: "Toprak" (Earth), which would be his last.

However, he has released an entirely unexpected work in place of "Toprak." Mercan Dede has released "800" on Doublemoon Records. He dedicates the album to Mevlana Muhammad Jelaluddin Rumi, the great Turkish Sufi saint.

He takes his fans to different lands with "800" and there shows them reflections of love. Many accomplished musicians, such as Mich Gerber from Switzerland, Ziya Tabassian from Iran, Shankar Das from India, Shen-Qi from China, and Göksel Baktagir and Yurdal Tokcan from Turkey, accompanied Mercan Dede on this journey.

Each musician tried to reflect his own culture's concept of love through his instrument. Surprise guests are Turkish rapper Ceza and pop singer Yıldız Tilbe.

Mercan Dede's sudden comeback with "800" has taken his fans by surprise. We talked to him soon after he arrived in Turkey after recording abroad. He says he had started preparing for "Toprak," and had actually composed a few pieces for it, but that none of them gave him the right feeling.

"There is one thing in music which I insist on, and that is sincerity. A few pieces in 'Toprak' turned out rather nicely, but they were lacking the feeling I always look for. So I saw that either I wasn't ready for 'Toprak' or 'Toprak' wasn't ready for me," he says.

When he decided to pause the project, he notes, he prepared "800" as a humble gift to Mevlana, who he values so much, for his "800th birthday." Allen says that he wanted this album to be different from his others in terms of both its content and the way it was made.

"This is the album on which I have spent the longest time," he stresses and adds, "I initiated the preparations 10 months ago. For me Mevlana means love. We empty the meaning of love the more we use it, but the venerable Mevlana filled that word with a truly divine meaning."

The most obvious difference of "800" from other Mercan Dede albums is this time that there are lyrics to his pieces. In addition to pieces from Mevlana's masterpiece "Mesnevi," sung in various languages, there are some lyrics sung by Ceza and Tilbe that will urge listeners to contemplate.

"I'm a flying bird, sometimes an invisible grain of sand
I'm a servant all alone in this temporary land
Is it a crime to walk with all creation hand in hand?
All right; then I'm the biggest criminal on Earth".


Sung by rapper Ceza, is described by Mercan Dede as the most modern, fresh and sincere expression of Sufism.

He also thinks that Tilbe's words are some of the most beautiful expressions of love:

"You have to love in a different way
In a different form, in a different way
Warmer than the sun, more naked than the water
As attached as the wing of a seagull".


Speaking of Sufism, he responds to the criticism that he has been damaging Sufi thought for years: "Sufism is a sun, and we hold a burning candle in our hand. We can neither enlighten that sun nor blot it out. The candle in our hand can only be a bridge."

Mercan Dede also emphasizes that he did not take part in any of the celebrations held this year in honor of Mevlana's 800th birthday, fearing that he would be thought to be exploiting Mevlana and the whirling rite (sema).

He adds that even those who normally take a sarcastic and mocking approach to Sufism in the art world launched projects related to Mevlana.

He also responds to the criticism that sema is treated as a commercial object: "Counterfeit gold points to real gold. The one that is not genuine is like a soap bubble and is thus temporary. Time will eliminate it."

(...)

The first concert for "800" will take place in Ankara on Nov. 18. Proceeds from the performance will go toward support for the disabled.

1 comment:

Nash Ar-Rawy said...

Salaam Brethren,
I would like to share d moment of celebrating Rumi's 800 birthday anniversary n "Al- Fatiha" to him. I hereby dedicate my divine song lyrics 2 him. Do pls visit n view my lyrics: nasharrawy.blogspot.com tq
Peace! Loves!
Nash Ar-Rawy

Friday, November 09, 2007

In Music, I Insist on Sincerity
By Ali Pektas - Today's Zaman - Istanbul, Turkey
Friday, November 9, 2007

When Arkin Allen, a.k.a. Mercan Dede, released "Nefes" (Breath), the third album in his four-album series of "Anasır-ı Erbaa" (the Four Elements), he said that there was one album left to complete the series: "Toprak" (Earth), which would be his last.

However, he has released an entirely unexpected work in place of "Toprak." Mercan Dede has released "800" on Doublemoon Records. He dedicates the album to Mevlana Muhammad Jelaluddin Rumi, the great Turkish Sufi saint.

He takes his fans to different lands with "800" and there shows them reflections of love. Many accomplished musicians, such as Mich Gerber from Switzerland, Ziya Tabassian from Iran, Shankar Das from India, Shen-Qi from China, and Göksel Baktagir and Yurdal Tokcan from Turkey, accompanied Mercan Dede on this journey.

Each musician tried to reflect his own culture's concept of love through his instrument. Surprise guests are Turkish rapper Ceza and pop singer Yıldız Tilbe.

Mercan Dede's sudden comeback with "800" has taken his fans by surprise. We talked to him soon after he arrived in Turkey after recording abroad. He says he had started preparing for "Toprak," and had actually composed a few pieces for it, but that none of them gave him the right feeling.

"There is one thing in music which I insist on, and that is sincerity. A few pieces in 'Toprak' turned out rather nicely, but they were lacking the feeling I always look for. So I saw that either I wasn't ready for 'Toprak' or 'Toprak' wasn't ready for me," he says.

When he decided to pause the project, he notes, he prepared "800" as a humble gift to Mevlana, who he values so much, for his "800th birthday." Allen says that he wanted this album to be different from his others in terms of both its content and the way it was made.

"This is the album on which I have spent the longest time," he stresses and adds, "I initiated the preparations 10 months ago. For me Mevlana means love. We empty the meaning of love the more we use it, but the venerable Mevlana filled that word with a truly divine meaning."

The most obvious difference of "800" from other Mercan Dede albums is this time that there are lyrics to his pieces. In addition to pieces from Mevlana's masterpiece "Mesnevi," sung in various languages, there are some lyrics sung by Ceza and Tilbe that will urge listeners to contemplate.

"I'm a flying bird, sometimes an invisible grain of sand
I'm a servant all alone in this temporary land
Is it a crime to walk with all creation hand in hand?
All right; then I'm the biggest criminal on Earth".


Sung by rapper Ceza, is described by Mercan Dede as the most modern, fresh and sincere expression of Sufism.

He also thinks that Tilbe's words are some of the most beautiful expressions of love:

"You have to love in a different way
In a different form, in a different way
Warmer than the sun, more naked than the water
As attached as the wing of a seagull".


Speaking of Sufism, he responds to the criticism that he has been damaging Sufi thought for years: "Sufism is a sun, and we hold a burning candle in our hand. We can neither enlighten that sun nor blot it out. The candle in our hand can only be a bridge."

Mercan Dede also emphasizes that he did not take part in any of the celebrations held this year in honor of Mevlana's 800th birthday, fearing that he would be thought to be exploiting Mevlana and the whirling rite (sema).

He adds that even those who normally take a sarcastic and mocking approach to Sufism in the art world launched projects related to Mevlana.

He also responds to the criticism that sema is treated as a commercial object: "Counterfeit gold points to real gold. The one that is not genuine is like a soap bubble and is thus temporary. Time will eliminate it."

(...)

The first concert for "800" will take place in Ankara on Nov. 18. Proceeds from the performance will go toward support for the disabled.

1 comment:

Nash Ar-Rawy said...

Salaam Brethren,
I would like to share d moment of celebrating Rumi's 800 birthday anniversary n "Al- Fatiha" to him. I hereby dedicate my divine song lyrics 2 him. Do pls visit n view my lyrics: nasharrawy.blogspot.com tq
Peace! Loves!
Nash Ar-Rawy