December 2, 2012


EPISODE 6 / Şarkışla - Sivas / 1 Dec 2012

Do you know about the song "Dönmek (Return)" by Yeni Türkü (for the song's You Tube link, please see the end of the post)? The vocalist Derya Koroglu reprises "Yollar Bize Memleket - The Roads are Our Home" in the song. Ferman feels that the roads have been his home since he started making music and going on concert tours.

In this episode, we'll visit Sivas Sarkisla, aka "The Land of the Minstrels". This town's history dates back to 570 AD. We're going to Ortakoy, where we hear the music the best and Sivrialan, where the most famous Turkish minstrel Asik Veysel was born.

The song says "The roads are our home", but this time Ferman is really at home. Sivas Sarkisla is his family's hometown.
Ferman on the way to Şarkışla
Ferman with the lady who asked for vote for him
The lady who stops the car on the road says that she rocked Ferman on her legs to put him to sleep when he was a baby and invites him & his team to have coffee with her. Another lady tells him that asked by his mother, she started a campaign of asking people for vote for Ferman who entered a music contest on TV in 2002.  And she thinks that thanks to her efforts he became the 1st in the contest. She is talking about the "Sing Your Song" contest where Ferman and maNga finished runner-up, not the first! She isn't aware of this fact apparently and Ferman doesn't bother to correct her. So he just whispers to the camera "I was the second, not the first! Hahaha..." 

570 AD is not the date which the tradition of minstrels has started, but it's the birth date of an important historical figure who introduced this tradition to us: Dede Korkut.

Now let's go to Sivrialan Village where is the birth place of Asik Veysel (1894-1973), who was a highly regarded minstrel in Turkish Folk Literature.

Asık Veysel (1894-1973)

Asik Veysel lost his left eye due to a smallpox outbreak at 7 years old, and after an accident his right eye was blinded as well. But nobody saw this world as this blind minstrel had seen. He was a giant who saw the world  with his heart's eye. Thousands of songs of love, farewell, hope, home...He sang about all human feelings with his saz. Everybody who was born on the same land after him definitely gained something from him.
Ferman goes to his daughter Zehra Başer's house to talk about him, music and life 

Ferman asks about how this land could produce Veysel. Zehra Hanim thinks that his blindness made him see the world differently. When people asked him the same question, he often said "if it wasn't for my blind eyes, I wouldn't know anything this way; I wouldn't know the value of the soil and the nature. I see all things in my mind. My world is quite different from yours, mine is entirely another world". And he started wandering with his saz. 

His reputation as a poet reached Ataturk, too. But he couldn't meet him because of some inconveniences, even though Ataturk ordered his men to bring Veysel to him. Another time, there was a group of doctors who offered him an eye operation, but he refused to undergo the operation. He said  "my small world is enough for me; I'm happy in it" and sang a tune about how he 'sees' the world as a blind man.

Ferman asks Zehra Hanim if she remembers any of his songs that she loves very much and asks her to murmur it a little. She says that she knew lots of them but she doesn't trust her memory as much as before. This makes Ferman laugh heartily.
Ferman: What was the most difficult part of being his daughter?
Zehra Hanim: These questions of yours... (this causes Ferman laugh more heartily) 

But then she tries to recite his father's famous poem/song "Black Soil/Earth". Ferman thanks her and leaves for Ortakoy.

Ferman at the grave of his great grandfather Aziz Üstün 

Asik Veysel is the greatest folk poet whom this land produced. But many more poets also raised in this land. One of these poets is Aziz Ustun. He wrote most of his songs about the nature. He was one of the close friends of Asik Veysel and his music mate. They sang the same songs and travelled together. He was born in poverty in 1911; devoted his life to music, arts and poetry. He passed away in 1978 just one year before Ferman was born. Aziz Ustun is Ferman's great grandfather, his mother's grandfather. Ferman has visited his grave for the first time in this episode. He is proud of being his grandson and he is very glad that he inherited his great grandfather's musical genes. He leaves the grave site with complicated feelings. 

Next, he is going to meet the village headman. The village headman waits for Ferman at an interesting place for a little village: Ortakoy Cultural Center and Museum.

Ortaköy Cultural Center and Museum

This is a small ethnography museum. Inside, there are several rooms such as poets room, women's room, guest room, threshing room which dedicated to local cultural elements. There is even a picture of maNga in this museum! This is also a community center where several cultural activities take place in the village. Exhibitions, concerts, book talks are held here. 

Ferman with his Aunt Furuzan and his Uncle Hasan

Now we're going to meet 2 of Ferman's relatives: Aunt Furuzan and Uncle Hasan. They are the children of Aziz Ustun, sister and brother of Ferman's grandmother of his mother's side.

Ferman has a brief chat with them. The uncle's cell phone starts to ring in the middle of the chat, the aunt is a bit angry with him, and she says "Turn it off! We have guests!"

The uncle talks about funny little anecdotes of his father who fell in love with his mother and learned how to play saz. And they sing one of their father's songs. During their talk, Ferman's grandmother shows up and talks about some memories of Asik Veysel. Ferman asks the same question about why so many poets raised on this land. Uncle Hasan thinks that this lies on the Sivas soil and Ferman also got the same genes from this soil.

Aunt Furuzan and Uncle Hasan singing their father's song

They record one of Aziz Üstün's songs with the aunt and the uncle. And then they go to grandmother's house to eat grandma's specialite cig kofte (raw meatballs) . On the way to grandma's house, they see the shepherd of the village; have a little chat with him and observe how he calls for the world-famous Turkish shepherd dogs, aka Kangals in his peculiar way.

Ferman and his grandmother

Cig kofte is a favorite Turkish snack and a specialty of Southeastern Turkey. Ferman likes cig kofte very much and had it almost everywhere in Turkey. He claims very clearly that the 2 best cig kofte are made by his grandma and his aunt. When she kneads the mixture of meat, bulghur and spices, Ferman tries to make her talk about Aziz & Veysel and sing one of Aziz's songs. 
He says, "Come on, Grandma, sing us a song from my grandfather!" 
She looks a bit surprised. 
Ferman continues, "Don't you murmur songs when you knead cig kofte?"
She says "Yes.."
Ferman, "Then come on! Sing something!" and she sings. :)

Here in Sivas/Sarkisla, Ferman also got the opportunity to retrace his own origins. And now it's time to go back to İstanbul with complicated feelings. 

MaNga briefing

Back to İstanbul. In the studio, as this episode's guest stars, we have Dear maNga! Ferman is now just a member of his band. They created this studio in a very long time and finally they are satisfied by its final form. Now in their own studio, Ferman will have to do a briefing with his own band mates for this episode's song, but this will be a little hard for him. So he apologizes for this before he starts.

First of all, he tries to tell them about his adventure in Sivas, his homeland. He tells that he got to know a lot of things about his great grandfather who was a close friend of Asik Veysel. He says that, after he learned so many good things about his grandpa, he started to show off like "I'm Aziz Ustun's grandfather"! Ozgur corrects his mistake "...grandson"! Ferman laughs loudly at this. :) Efe thinks that this is a good thing for putting on airs.

Then Ferman tries to explain them that how they work on this program with Cagatay, how they rearrange the new forms of the songs, that they try to rearrange it as differently as possible than the original song, that it generally doesn't become a complete song. He explains that the biggest purpose of this program is that they try to make the village people listen to their own voice, their own songs in a different arrangement and to give the new songs back to them as a gift.

And he asks for their opinions about Anatolian music, how maNga get inspirations from Anatolia, how they feel and what kind of feedback they get in Anatolia concert tours, how far or how close they are to the folk music. Since he was looking at Ozgur when he asks the question, Ozgur starts to speak first.

Ozgur says that he hadn't been to Eastern Turkey beyond Cankiri up to 25 years of his life. When they travelled in Eastern Turkey he realized that it was very important to travel the country for music, because in fact they are not there physically, they are just CDs in the shops. It's completely something else to play live in front of them. He thinks that he got influenced by Anatolia emotionally, rather than musically and got the chance to see the other realities of our country.
MaNga at the briefing

Ferman states that they never force themselves to make their music. It just comes out of them naturally, because they have it in their souls all along.

Cem says that even though his hometown, Denizli is an Aegean town, it has the spirit of Central Anatolia. He speaks of his remembrance of Denizli. When he started his first guitar classes at Denizli Municipal Conservatory, there were only guitar department as the only Western instrument, the other departmens are all of traditional instruments. What he tries to say is that you could go as westbound as you want but still you'll have that deep Anatolian spirit anywhere. 

Efe joins the duscussion by saying that anybody in this country get involved in folk dance classes at some point in their school lives when they grow up and without being aware of it, you absorbe in Anatolian music when you are just a kid.

Ozgur adds that we, Turks are stuck in between the West and the East. For the westerners, we are from the East; but for the Easterners, we are from the West.  Ozgur is against this: "Why do we always have to explain this? We are just Anatolians, that's it. We are heirs to our Anatolian ancestors. We don't have to be in an engagement and explain the roots of maNga's music".

Ferman agrees with him. "No, of course we don't have to explain anything to anybody."

Then it's Yagmur's turn to explain his opinion: These influences are quite unintentional. As maNga, their first trial songs didn't have this Anatolian reflections at all. But when they started to make songs with Turkish lyrics, especially Ferman began to come up with more traditional tunes. Our only goal is to make good music and we're very glad that our songs have this traditional Anatolian spirit. They all agree with Yagmur.

Ferman says, "Let's listen to the song first and then brainstorm, OK?" This will be their first time to listen to the song. 

MaNga brainstorming

Yagmur thinks that the vocalists sound very different to an educated ear. Cem says that it has a fine vocal tone; they must keep this tone with minimum touch-ups. Yagmur agrees with Cem: "We must do the right thing keeping this sound, rather than change it into our sound."

Efe shares his thoughts on this: "How about leaving the melody to the vocalist, like the foreigners do?"

Yagmur adds, "It can be both, music and vocalist can share the melody by turns."

And now it's Ferman's turn to record his great grandpa's song according to the discussed themes. Ferman uses the wide range of his voice as low as possible and this allows him to keep the emotional level up. His touching vocal performance with his aunt & uncle made our eyes teary and we watched him speechlessly.

Ferman recording Aşık Veysel's song

YARANMAZ AŞIK / Ferman / Selahattin Demirağ / Aunt-Uncle

This episode was more "personal" than the other episodes for Ferman and by performing his great grandfather Aziz Üstün's old song he reached out to him and the old folk poets and showed us that he also shared the same genes with Sivas soil. 

Thanks very much, Ferman, for reminding us of great poet/minstrel Aşık Veysel, introducing your great grandfather who was also a poet/minstrel and sharing with us your roots in Central Anatolia.

So who will be the next week's guest star?

You can watch the full episode 6 on below You Tube link:

For your information: Yeni Türkü's song "Dönmek": please click:

For full videos of Kulaktan Kulağa episodes, please click on below link of TRT Muzik's KK video page:

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