lundi 13 septembre 2010

Abdul Wahad Ahmed, Iraqi Turkmen singer - Qoyrat Beshiri

Photo from: Türkü Sitesi

The artist, Abdul-Wahad Ahmad, is known as “Abdülvahit Küzecioğlu” in Turkey. Born in 1924, Kerkuk. He went to London for education and made records for BBC Turkish. Then in 1956, he went to İstanbul and made records for the Radio of Istanbul (later TRT). He died in 2007. (

Many thanks to Jonathan Ward and his musicologist friend for this beautiful example of Iraqi Turkmen music.

May 9, 2010
created by Jonathan Ward

Every once in a while, I like to post a true scarcity – a record which not only has considerable cultural import, but which is also nearly impossible to locate. I feel I can mention my personal feelings at the start, and in this direct manner, as an outsider: today’s post is not my own record. It is a generous loan from a friend and musicologist, which I transferred and repaired. The original – possibly the only known copy – is considerably damaged, but with a new transfer we were able to make it shine once again.

Early recordings of the stunning classical Arabic and traditional music from Iraq are quite difficult to find. What’s more, the few early recordings of ethnic minority music from Iraq on any of the large, European labels, have nearly vanished a without a trace. Further, the infinitesimal amount of early recordings of ethnic minority music from Iraq on local, independently-pressed labels, are truly gifts to behold. This record falls into that last category. It is one of the few, extant examples on 78rpm of the traditional music of Iraqi Turkmen.

At least a half-million Turkmen live in Iraq and they are the third largest ethnic community in that country (behind Arabs and Kurds), representing 5% of the population (printed statistics state the half-million figure, although various Turkmen groups in Iraq claim a population of anywhere between 1-5 million, thus increasing their percentage of the general populus).

Iraqi Turkmen primarily live in a central stretch of land from the Turkish and Syrian borders in the north of the country, to the Iranian border in the center of the country. This region is known colloquially as Türkmeneli. Descendents of Muslim Oghuz Turks, Turkmen first entered Iraq from Central Asia. Though there seems to be disagreement as to when Turkmen settlements in Iraq began appearing, one date that is mentioned is 650 CE.

There is very little scholarly information in English on the traditional music of Iraqi Turkmen, as it is different from Turkmen music of other regions.
This is hardly surprising, when a multi-volume book such as the Encyclopedia of World Cultures (1991-1996) does not even list Turkmen as a being a cultural population in the country of Iraq. Major texts ignore Iraqi Turkmen music, such as Grove or the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, or the Rough Guide (scoff if you must, but the Rough Guide to World Music provides at least a passing mention of some extremely obscure traditional musical styles). Kurdish music, equally as beautiful and also ridiculously rare on 78rpm, has, by comparison, been generously studied.

This piece is an example of a particular type of long-form song of Iraqi Turkmen, called qoyrat (also commonly spelled hoyrat, but pronounced khoyrat). The qoyrats are formed around a 4-line quatrain and defined by their style. This one is in the beshiri (beşiri) style. Qoyrats are also sung by Turkmen in Southern and Southeastern Anatolia – it’s a style similar to the bozlak, another epic folk song type from the region. In Turkish musical parlance qoyrat could be described as uzun hava – a free-rhythm song that could also be a lament, a poem, a play on words, or a wail. The term qoyrat in Turkish actually means “vulgar” or “boorish” – though this piece is anything but. Beginning with the strains of a typical sounding Middle Eastern ensemble, with qanun, violin, flute, and percussion, the vocals soon take over. It is a powerful love song and lament – sung in Turkish, albeit in a Turkish that might sound strange, or indecipherable, to a Turkish-speaking teenager of today. There are universally recognizable moments, however – for instance, when the singer, Ahmad, exclaims “aman aman” mid-way through the song…”aman” being understood from the Balkans to the Indian Ocean as an exclamation of grief and suffering. Abdul-Wahad Ahmad was known as “Abdülvahit Küzecioğlu” in Turkey. Born in 1924 in Kirkuk, Ahmad had a lengthy recording career, even recording for the BBC. He died in 2007.

The Chakmakchi Company had offices and a showroom on the prestigious and bustling Rashid Street in Baghdad, along with a satellite office in Mosul. If we are to take the name literally, “chakmakchi” in standard Turkish means “maker of lighters” or “flint stone maker.” However, this is simply the surname of the proprietors, one of whom we know was named Arif Chakmakchi. At any rate, this small company got into the 78rpm business in the early 50s and only released at most about 200-300 recordings on their Chakmakchi Phon label. What distinguished them was that they catered to the local – local artists sold in local stores. What further distinguished them was their repertoire – not only did they record Iraqi classical maqam (by artists such as Nazim El-Ghazali and Mohammed El-Qabbandji), but they recorded music of the minorities. Chakmakchi Phon recorded some of the finest Kurdish singers in all their rawness – from the well-known, such as Mohammed Arif Jezrawi and his son Hassan Jezrawi, to the lesser-known, such as Mahmud Kourouri, Khalil Aqrawi or Rasul Gardi. These records would, in some instances, due to the political situation, have to be smuggled in order to be sold in some regions. Since the Persian Gulf region did not have a 78rpm pressing plant at the time, Chakmakchi outsourced their early pressings to Sweden of all places (see the label photo), and their later pressings to Greece. It is strange that neither India nor Pakistan were considered, as both had thriving pressing plants – although both were run by the Gramophone Company, based in the UK. No matter what the case, Chakmakchi Phon did not last long in the 78rpm record business. They soon ceased producing 78s and moved into pressing 45 and 33rpm records. Their musical legacy is only just beginning to come to light.

Technical Notes
Label: Chakmakchi Phon
Issue Number: CHAC 127
Matrix Number: SAMI 53

“Üstüvane Çakmakçı, Abdülvahit Ahmet
Baba bugün, Oyan yeri
Seherden oyan yeri, dönüm dirive(?) dönüm, bes men men özüm(?)
Ey ey ey ey ölem aman, Yüz yıl sel gelse oymaz
Bir gün gam oyan yeri
Dede gene, Yüz yıl sel gelse oymaz
Valla, Bir gün gam oyan yeri
E yar e yar e yar eluvden
Aman aman aman eluvden
Hiç bilmem hara gedim
Baba bugün, Seherde sada gelir
Zulmü çok dada gelir, dönüm diluve(?) dönüm, e bes men ölüm
Ey ey ey ey ölem aman, Bir ölüm bir ayrılmak
İkisi yada gelir
Dede gene, Bir ölüm bir ayrılmak
İkisi yada gelir
E yar e yar e yar, eluvden
Aman aman aman, eluvden
Hiç bilmem hara gedim”

Please click on the link below to listen to Abdul Wahad Ahmed - Qoyrat Beshiri:

Abdülvahit Küzecioğlu, 1340 (M. 1924) yılında Kerkük’te doğdu. Küçük yaşlarda babasından ve çevresinin çok değerli usta sanatçılarından pek çok hoyrat ve türkü öğrendi. Makam ve hoyrat okuma usullerini belledi.

Henüz 20’li yaşlarda, Irak Petrol Şirketi tarafından bir mesleki eğitim kursuna katılmak üzere İngiltere’ye gönderilen Küzecioğlu, Londra’da BBC’nin Türkçe servisi için okuduğu hoyrat ve türkülerle Ortadoğu, Kafkas çevresi başta olmak üzere, özellikle Türkiye, Azerbaycan, Irak ve İran civarında büyük şöhret kazandı. Üstad Cemil Beşir’in kemanı eşliğinde doldurduğu plaklarla geniş halk kitlelerine ulaştı.

1956 yılında Türkiye’ye yaptığı bir gezi sırasında, İstanbul Radyosu’nda Kerkük hoyrat ve türkülerinden oluşan bantlar doldurdu. Üstad Nida Tüfekçi, kendisinden en çok eser derleyen kişi oldu.

Ülkemizde, hoyrat geleneğinin tanınmasında, geniş kitlelere ulaşmasında ve yeni nesillerce bilinmesinde Abdülvahit Küzecioğlu’nun büyük emekleri var: Beşiri, Muçula, Muhalif, Yolcu, Ömergele, Nobatçı, Matarı, İskenderi, Delli Heseni ve Mazan Hoyratlarını yorumlayışı benzersizdi. Kerkük Divanı, Gazeller ve hemen herkesin belleğine kazınan pek çok türkü onun sesinden ilk kez yayıldı.

A. Küzecioğlu, hoyratların ve Kerkük türkülerinin önemli bir kaynağı ve yorumcu; Türkmen sanatına gönül veren dinleyicilerin ve sanatçıların yetişmesini sağlayan bir yol gösterici idi. Abdurrahman Kızılay da onun yetiştirdiği çıraklardan biri idi.

A. Küzecioğlu, Sesi, yorumu ve yetiştiği coğrafyanın kültürüne dayanan müzik birikimiyle, hafızalardaki yerini uzun yıllar koruyacak bir müzik elçisidir.

Kerkük ve çevresi Türkmen Müzik geleneğinin -özellikle de hoyrat, divan, gazel, tenzile ve türkülerin- önemli yorumcusu ve kaynak kişisi Abdülvahit Küzecioğlu, 29 Haziran 2007’de, saat 22.30 civarında Kerkük’te öldü. 30 Haziran’da Kerkük’te toprağa verildi.

Türkiye’ye 1950’li yıllarda gelerek, çok sayıda Kerkük türküsünü TRT repertuarına kazandıran, plaklar dolduran ve toplum belleğine taşıyan Abdülvahit Küzecioğlu, 83 yaşındaydı.

Süleyman Şenel

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