The theme of the last two Friday nights at the UVM Lane Series was music based on improvisation to one extent or another.
In the case of the concert on Friday, Jan. 30, 2009, which featured Omar Faruk Tekbilek and his Ensemble, the direct subject was Turkish music, especially the music from the south of Turkey. In this joyous concert, the audience was treated to authentic instruments - there are six instruments mentioned besides percussion and keyboard, and the keyboard was definitely not the only non-authentic instrument on stage - as well as music based upon the music of a variety of sections of Turkey. The oud developed into the lute in Western civilization. The rest of the traditional instruments were native to Turkey.
The music at its roots is improvisational - that is, there are formulas for developing a musical idea while leaving the basic melody line there for the musicians to acquire and use freely. The music that I heard that night reminded me both in its formulaic approach to a generalized framework within which the musician may improvise, but even in the sounds produced, of classical Indian music, especially the raga, which is a combination of free improvisation within strict forms. The musicians need to know a great deal in order to have the freedom to improvise music.
The result with this ensemble was rhapsodic music that whirled like the dervishes. It was a wonderful evening, and with Tekbilek's son on the program as one of the to percussionists, there was room for a certain emotional content. In fact, the emotions played a great part in the concert, and not to its detriment, but to the essential emotional core of the music. The lyrics of most of the songs were amatory in nature, but within a sound panel that is certainly foreign to the Western air. The obvious plangency - indeed the almost comic sound of the music (to the Western ear) - sounding exceedingly strange to the Western ear.