Composing, I believe, is a direct result of my performance interests. It has always been that when I learn a piece of music, I conduct a detailed analysis from the points of view of theory and musicology. I have also always been very fond of transcribing for the harp from an array of musical traditions. I value approaching every single interpretation of music and the whole body of my repertoire as something that I like to craft personally. I believe that a unique footprint is left not only by the interpretation of a work but also by what is played. With time, in addition to transcribing, my work in Turkish music required that I interpret something similar to “a shorthand” as Turkish music is monodic. One deals with a single line (which embodies layers of ideas, of course). It is also non-idiomatic, a music not intended for a specific instrument. Therefore, in performance practice, each instrument plays a given melody in its own way. I was exposed to this approach of music-making after having spent 30 years dedicated to the performance of Western music where every single note intended by the composer is written down. This new practice involved imagining a supportive line to the melody (to be played by the harpists’s left hand) along with making a non-idiomatic piece work on the harp by further imagining all sorts of embellishments and expressive solutions.
One day, in 2013, I was handed lyrics and asked to set them to music. I received encouragement from Bora Uymaz as he handed the lyrics, a fine composer of traditional Turkish music. I did not know if I could deliver the task really. As I read aloud the sufi poem over and over, I started hearing the rhythm in the words, then came the pitches. Things “fell into place”. I had grown up in a musical environment where musicians were always specialized and labeled as performers, composers, musicologists…The tiny hymn I came up with, “Hep ikilik birlik için” (Duality always for Unity) showed me that composing could be within reach for the performer that I was. I was also surprised that I could compose in the style of Turkish music. Something I had no formal training for. Here is a recording of my first attempt:
The simple fact of writing down music and to shape performance projects around them, premiering and playing them in my concert routine with my musical partners yielded a new direction to my career. The process is highly personal, liberating and energetic. Music became even more alive. And more practical too. It feels like being a tailor sometimes, sewing a dress for herself for an occasion that just popped.
Composing gives me a possibility to draw influences from all the music that has accumulated in my ears through years, ranging from the mainstream repertoire I perform to complex contemporary scores, from traditional music to my inner voice. Composing is like drinking endlessly from the fountains of traditions with a third eye involved! My role as a musician feels more complete as a result. Here is a concert performance of “An Old Postcard”, a tiny piece reminiscent of small scale valses.
In 2014, I entered a composition contest entitled “Altın Elma” in Turkey. The contest was organized jointly by the city of Amasya and Turkish Radio and Television. I was awarded the third prize for the music and lyrics of a song.
So, I continue composing and enjoy even more writing down pedagogic works and works to introduce harpists around the world with the inifinite possibilities of Turkish music.
List of Compositions
-“An Old Postcard” for solo pedal harp
-“Flavours of Turkish Music for Harpists”, 120 pieces for solo lever harps (jointly with Bora Uymaz)
-“A Toy Chest” for easy pieces for lever harp (jointly with Bora Uymaz)
-“Two Friends” for easy pieces for pedal harp (jointly with B. Uymaz)
-“A Rose Garden” four pieces for lever harp (jointly with B. Uymaz)
-“Hisarbuselik Saz Semai”, for pedal harp
-“Nikriz Saz Semai”, for lever harp (recorded in “Çengnağme”)
-“Rast Peşrev” for lever harp or çeng (recorded in “Ab-ı Hayat”)
-“Rast Peşrev” for lever harp
-“Şirin Tango” for flute viola, bandoneon, guitar, harp and bass (recorded in “Cafe Tango”)
-Tango: “Ben Hep Seni Düşünürüm” (recorded in “Cafe Tango”)
-Tango: “Beni Sevmemek” (jointly with Bora Uymaz), (recorded in “Cafe Tango”)
-Hymn: “Hep İkilik Birlik İçin” (recorded in “Eternal Love”)
-Hymn: “Eski Libas Gibi…”
-Sultaniyegah Song: “Ne senden özge bir aşk var ne sen kadar sevilen” (https://www.trtdinle.com/playlist/acmaz-oldu-cicekler-1945762?id=1766169)
-Pençgâh Song: “Yine yaz günleri geldi”
-Hicâz Song: “Benim adım dertli dolap”
-Nişâbur Riddle “Ey kopuz ile çeşte”
-Hüseynî Wisdom: “Adım adım ilerü”
-March for Children’s Holiday, (commissioned by Feyziye Schools Foundation)