Masıt took its place in our ‘türkü’ (Turkish folk songs) literature with the ‘Masıt Kırıks’ and ‘Masıt Kırığı’ styles; the discoverer of the genre was a Frenchman by the name of Jérôme Cler. Jérôme’s wife Gulya Mirzoeva directed the documentary titled ‘Beyond the Forest’ and, in the heart of all this stands Hayri Dev, the man known locally as the ‘Grand Master of the Strings’. Born in Masıt in 1933, Dev started out as a goatherd. He strung a nettle (used by the womenfolk to bake bread) and played it.
This was his first instrument. His ancestors, known as the ‘Forty Camel Family’, had moved to Çameli following an epidemic in Karaman. It was the influence of his grandfather that encouraged him to play the three-stringed lute. He observed the adults duelling with music and memorised the tunes they played.
He learned to read and write while doing his National Service. He spent all his time playing music and taking part in shepherds’ meets, these ‘yarenlik’ (musical duels) that are never-ending. “In the winter we gather at the Dance Roof and in the summer at the Dance Stone. The goatherds signal one another during the day with mirrors. This means there’s a gathering in the evening.
The goatherd who’s been invited has to go unless he’s prepared to lose favour. In the winter, we take turns to hold these meets at home. The doors are locked. Everyone plays three pipes in turn.
By the time twenty have played, daylight will have broken.” Hayri Dev mostly plays the almost micro-musical ‘Masıt Kırıkları’ and ‘türküs’ whose lyrics are limited to a single verse and last between two and three minutes. These tunes are performed by the pine pipe, the three-stringed lute and the Cypriot violin. Some are also played on the ‘bağlama’ (a three double-stringed lute.) Many of the ‘kırıks’ are in 9/8 or 9/16 compound beats. Dev may be master of the three-stringed lute, but his day job is goatherding.
This is reflected in his music. He turns round with a smile, as though asking, “Am I playing well?” as he plays. This life of goats and musical duels changed for Hayri Dev and his friends when Jérôme Cler discovered them quite by chance as he conducted his research around Teke. Hearing Dev’s music on Acıpayam Radio, Cler asked to meet the musician. They went and found Dev at a wedding in Yaylapınar.
He collated his findings. Up to this point, it all went quite predictably. Cler is one of many academicians who’ve collected musical works. But this time it’s different.
He invites the village musicians to Paris. The goatherd/musicians Hasan Yıldırım (Kapızlı), Mehmet Şakir (Akkulak), son Zafer and Hayri Dev wrap their instruments in newspapers and travel to Paris. They play and sing. Hayri Dev gives recitals of three-stringed lute, pine pipes and spoons.
This is an inexplicable, lyrical game for him... You have to see it to believe it. He and the Çameli crew participated in ethnic music festivals in France and Germany in 1996, a trip that took 28 days. They gave concerts in Amsterdam in 1997, the Marc Bloch University in Strasbourg in 1998, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels in 2002 and in Paris in 2003, in an event attended by the French Ministry of Culture officials.
They took part in ‘Beyond the Forest’, the Gulya Mirzoeva documentary in 1999. The film won awards in Marseilles and Strasbourg. Hayri Dev taught the three-stringed lute for a week at the Sorbonne University where Cler worked. Other Çameli masters lectured the students on Denizli instruments and music.
Mehmet Şakir enjoyed the honour of performing in a major violin festival in France at Chateauroux in 1992. Cler’s compilations were published by Radio France as cassette tapes and CDs. Some of the publications included the ‘Turkish Plateau Music’ in 1994, ‘Turkey: Plateau Music with the Pine Pipe/Ali Tekin’ in 1996 and ‘Turkish Plateau Violin/ Mehmet Şakir’ in 1998. Cler wrote his research as a doctorate paper in 1998 and his ‘Music and Village Musicians in Southern Turkey’ earned him the position of Assistant Lecturer at the Sorbonne University.
All this excitement never changed them. Hayri Dev and friends continue on, making the unspoiled traditional music of the Aegean. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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