Ozan Firat

 

Alévis Music from Turkey
 
Kurd by his mother, Ozan Firat is originating in a village of the area of Sivas in Anatolia. He had to leave school early for keeping the herds of his father. He saysthat it was to give himself courage and to move away the bears that it y exerca his voice to length day. By listening to his large-brother,he will be initiated with the music. Sensitive to his interest for the music, his father then sold one of his weapons to buy a saz to him, the traditional lute with length stick which accompanies the songs by the ozan.
 
At fourteen years, he made like many others and left its village to go to work at the city. he found a place of server assistance in a cabaret of Ankara. Attending the musical performences, he will not be long in being pointed out by musicians for his voice and succeeds in being made engage in another cabaret where he started to live from his music.
 
In the Seventies, Turkey knows turbid and agitated hours. The confrontations between extremists are violent and Ozan Firat has more and more evil to exerce his art. It is following rioting that it makes the decision to leave for Europe. It shares there its life between uses of workman in the North-East of France and that of singer in a Turkish restaurant of Paris.
 
With the title of "Ozan", meaning "troubadour", Ozan Firat selected to join "Firat" referring to the river passing close to its village,Euphrate.
 
The life and the art of Ozan Firat are basically marked by the alévi cultural heritage . The alévis constitute most of the population in Anatolia. They are Shiite and practical an Islam of opening which east impresses pre-Islamic elements resulting from the asian shamanism.

If they do not attend the mosques, do not recite the prayers, they make neither ablutions nor the ritual fast and the principal pilgrimage which they carry out is that of Hacibektas, in August, they meet and sing the epic alévie there. This " not very orthodoxe " Islam, is worth to them to be strongly scorned by the sunnite majority of the country. The expression and the clearness of the heart are more significant than the rites. The alévis are deeply humanistic and soutenèrent Ataturk in its company of modernization and laicization of the state.
The music, of oral tradition, holds a dominating place in the rites alévis and the transmission of the epic of the martyrs and the saints. It is regarded as a means of spiritual rise very as much as a means of expression for their dispute and their sorrows.
 
Ozan Firat inherits this tradition and the kneaded collective memory of rejection of the capacity and the memory of persecutions. This heritage is rich texts and transmitted accounts from generation to generation, like those of the large poet Pir Sultan Abdal (XVIè century). Those, using a required language which shackles the image and the double direction, form today still part of the repertory of the bards alévis. With this revolt, Ozan Firat will add its nostalgia and the sorrow of the exile. The songs of exile are an old tradition and the current waves of immigration made only revive it.
 
If Ozan Firat is before a whole singer, he is also a virtuoso of the saz. Its technique of accompaniment is with the service of its song, introducing it, supporting it and answering him with smoothness and discretion.
 
The saz or better the " baglama ", is the instrument of predilection of the bards alévis. This lute with length handle was born thinks your, in the Western Semites of current Syria. Its origin must however be required in Central Asia. Associated with the bards alévis, the saz always had a connotation of instrument protestor related to the memory of the troubadours turkmenes in revolt against the central capacity ottoman.
 
There are various sizes, going from 47 to 106 cm. Bards choosing the type of saz of which they play according to tessiture of their voice. Its case of resonance is generally made in mulberry tree and its sounding board in conifer. It includes/understands three series of double cords or triple. One generally plays about it with a plectre, but the mountain dwellers turkmenes of Taurus prefer to do it with the fingers, like the majority of the players of lute of Central Asia. Its handle long and fine is delimited by mobile nylon hoops, which makes it possible to obtain all the intervals of the Turkish musical system. One finds in certain songs the expression of a symbolism attached to the various elements of the instruments: the body is Ali and the cord engraves Muhammed; in some saz the 12 cords represent the 12 imams and the handle, the sword of Ali.
 
The repertory of Ozan Firat is shared between the sacred music and the profane music expressing the revolt and nostalgia without forgetting some light song and dance tunes, because the alévis do not live only of pain. Its voice and its songs make us travel in the heart landscapes anatoliens with emotion, force and conviction.
 
Ozan Firat is accompanied by Mahmut Demir on the saw and Ozcan Dursun on the saz.

Some References on Internet
Who are the Alévis (en anglais)
The Khurds
Turkey
Turkish music and the traditional instruments
Traditional Turkish Music
The varous Music of Turkey
Culture in Turkey
by Ali Yaman & Müslüm Güler
texte by Jason Smith
page with divers links
by Volkan Hatem
by Jaideep Ray
divers links
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