Elişi (Handcraft in Turkish) is a predominantly improvisational project based on traditional Turkish music of instrumental and vocal origins (türkü). It is project I have put together with harpist Meriç Dönük in which we pair up our harp duo with percussion and a singer to intertwine traditional music with elements of classical, contemporary, jazz, and fusion. Concerned with creating a soundworld based on the capabilities of the harp in a so far unexplored territory, we adopt a new approach to directions one could follow starting from the realm of traditional music while remaining loyal to it.
Elişi is an attempt to make “music between different worlds”, retaining the melodic, rhythmic and harmonic simplicity of our sources while infusing it with the music of our “ears” where years of experience in a diverse range of musical cultures have built a language of its own. Lifted up with daring gestures and the use of extended techniques, the result is an beautiful blend of harps and percussions.
Over the years Meriç & I accumulated a lot of ideas about how Turkish music could find a new life on the harp. Motivated to get our ideas out, we released a CD titled Elişi on the Kalan label in 2011 with Jarrod Cagwin on the percussion. Singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Bora Uymaz has joined the Elişi team recently. Considered by many as the greatest singer of traditional Turkish music Bora is also a highly multifaceted musician and brings not only his powerful voice to the project but also his wide knowledge.
Back home and beyond, Elişi was perceived by some as a “milestone” in Turkish music. To others it was pleasantly “music for everybody” or yet an attempt “to create a new music starting from an existing one”. Others said “the türküs were reborn on the strings of the harps”.